Even then, the old site was better suited for the decade we
were leaving instead of the one we were entering. It offered
visitors access to essential information but was organized in
a content-heavy layout. You could say that it was like a static
brochure that had been placed online. Navigation was cumbersome and not intuitive. We had no way of highlighting
important material or of engaging customers in anything
beyond online transactional banking.
Although we had resources for our business clients to
use—tools, white papers, educational material—it was not
spotlighted. You had to search for it.
The old site was made for desktop-first access. But today,
customers are rapidly embracing mobile browsing and banking.
As time went on, it became increasingly clear that we needed
to upgrade the site to keep up with advancing technology as
well as clients’ growing expectations.
Positioned as a collaborative partner
Pacific Continental is a 43-year-old bank. We have 12 locations in Oregon and three in Washington State. The brand
says that we are the “right bank”—a premier business bank in
the Pacific Northwest. We position ourselves as a collaborative partner that has both experience and expertise. We tailor
our services to meet the needs of specific business-market
niches, including community-based businesses, nonprofit
organizations, professional service and health-care providers.
We strive to build relationships with the people we serve
and help them to achieve their goals by sharing our knowledge
of business and finance.
When embarking on the redesign, our goal was to more
adequately represent our image and mission online and to
have our website presence reflect our institutional standard
of excellence. While some banks have attempted to drive
customers away from the physical branches and toward
Web-based amenities, our goal remained to sustain strong
face-to-face relationships while supplementing these with a
host of valuable online services.
The redesign process began with a select group of staff members
who sat down with the bank’s creative service agency to identify
a guiding vision. The overriding principle was that the new
site should serve as a modern tool with a host of applications.
One of the first things that we did was to look at and
research the websites of both local and national financial
institutions. Every website has an identity. To our surprise, we
discovered that many of banks’ websites had, more or less, a
similar look and feel. We decided that we wanted our site to
be different, in order to convey a sense of our unique brand.
Our team was drawn to sites that used a more dynamic
approach—unusual layouts with bold or rotating photographs.
We decided to go this route to help make us stand out and to
reflect our “right bank” brand. We also wanted it to convey
the idea that we are a business bank.
We decided to adopt a “block” or “tile” format, similar to
those used on a tablet computer. Also, we planned to have lots
of content that would be updated frequently so that it had
a dynamic feel—and also improved the site’s search engine
We wanted it to be clean, clear and easy to use.
Other essential elements included: ( 1) an intuitive navigation system to allow for easy access to our online options,
business niche services and library of digital resources, including white papers, e-newsletters, publications—as well as a
forthcoming blog authored by our executive leadership team;
( 2) responsiveness, that is, with the ability to adapt to desktop,
tablet and mobile devices for user-friendly viewing across all
platforms; ( 3) its on-site analytics would be updated to allow
for more specified assessments of on-site effectiveness. For
example, rather than just tracking basic traffic, say, from an
email blast back to our website, we would be able to track
the movements of the viewer from one Web page to another.
One noteworthy advantage of the new website is its elasticity. Unlike the previous website, which remained static, this
new version is fully adaptive and ready to evolve with changing
technology, market trends, site analytics and client needs.
When we designed the site, we tried to put ourselves in
the shoes of a client who was visiting the site. What kind of
an experience did he or she want to have there?
A balance of creative and technical
For other banks looking to refurbish their own online presence,
I strongly recommend beginning the process with the input
of a carefully chosen Web developer. Your design firm may
construct a number of impressive perspective options, but if
a Web developer is unable to put these visions into practice,
you may find yourself back at square one. By working with
both sides in tandem from onset, you’re able to balance the
creative and technical sides of the equation to ensure the best
Another challenge is to keep your patience during the
long development process. We originally anticipated that
the redesign would take from six to nine months. However,
we ended up needing to change our website host, which required us to send out requests for proposals for a new Web
developer. That extended the project for a number of months.
The secret, however, is not to allow yourself to lose focus on
your original goals. By being patient, we ultimately ended up
with what we wanted.
After nearly two years of planning, building, testing and
refining, the new site was launched with positive feedback
from clients. Employees gave it the supreme compliment
when they observed that, while they rarely accessed the old
site, they have been actively using the new one—both as a
tool to assist clients as well as a way to gather information
for themselves. n
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AMY DELANEY is the vice president and marketing director at Pacific Continental Bank, Eugene, Ore. Website: www.
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