ASB springcleans its website with Web 2.0

Number of pages reduced and opportunity for site users to give feedback enhanced, says head of marketing

ASB’s website has had a complete refresh with the number of pages halved, content streamlined a dash of Web 2.0 sprinkled over the top.

Visitors to the site will find a new feature called Antenna, which allows users to rate and comment on specialist content on the site. While comments appeared few and far between when Computerworld checked last week, customers had taken the time to rate most of the content.

Head of marketing Jonathan Symons says the project aimed to simplify the web experience. Over the years the site had grown and some content was buried deep inside and rarely used.

Around 1,000 pages have been reduced to about 500, he says. In addition, the opportunity for site users to provide direct feedback was enhanced, creating a platform for better web content and processes in the future, he says.

Peter Muggleston, group manager of ASB online and information services, says the online channel has been better integrated and is supported by niche metrics and analytics.

ASB has long been a strong Microsoft environmment, and that is one thing that has not changed. The site is built on Microsoft’s .Net 2.0 framework with Ajax and XML used as well. Search is provided by Google minibox appliances.

Symons says the initiative was for the broader website, with FastNet Classic, ASB’s online banking service, essentially unchanged.

He says he recently came across screenshots of FastNet Classic from eight years ago and they are little different from what is there now. An ASB survey shows that is probably a good thing, as users of online banking services appreciate familiarity.

“We made sure we didn’t interfere with online banking,” he says.

To minimise any shock to users in the changes, a lot of communication went on during the implementation, Symons says. Information was sent out with bank statements and links were placed to the new website four weeks before it went live.

Muggleston says one of the challenge of rationalising web content is that everyone has a view that everything should be on the homepage.

ASB’s use of ratings and feedback is considered the most innovative feature of the new site, the pair agree. While such features are relatively common on the wider web, they are pretty rare in corporate sites and especially banking.

“It’s been massively valuable,” Muggleston says.

It may seem the natural thing to do, but for a bank is actually a big step, he says. And ASB is already reaping the rewards. The bank provides an online budgeting tool. Feedback received through the website led to a redevelopment of the tool to allow fortnightly as well as weekly and monthly budgeting.

ASB’s web project went live in August.

Survey supports web push

To support its website redevelopment and understand online banking better, ASB commissioned a survey which shows massive penetration of online banking in New Zealand.

Around 78% of Kiwis have access to the internet, while 81% of those use online banking. That means around 70% of Kiwis in total bank online.

Further, people who bank online use other banking channels infrequently, with deposits the main reason for going to a bricks and mortar bank.

Among those that do not bank online, the main reasons given are a simple preference for in-person banking (59%) and security concerns (56%).

Even those using online banking are concerned about security, with 46% saying this is what they dislike about the experience.

ASB’s head of marketing, Jonathan Symons, says this also shows a really good level of awareness about online security, and that’s important.

“Security is a concern, but it’s not preventing seven out of 10 people doing things,” he says.

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