Category Archives: Websites

7 Best Features For Financial Websites


Financial institutions (“FI”) are not often early adopters of technology.

However, they are quick followers. And with digital transformation the latest trend hitting FIs, there’s plenty to be excited about going forward.

As consumers continue to demand better digital experiences from their banks, we’re seeing serious investment to improve the customer experience.

Here are 7 major trends and features we can expected to see firmly take hold of FIs in the next few years.


1. Improved security

security documents

More transactions are going digital. Mortgages, savings, retirement, pensions – there are even banks that are completely digital now.

This was inconceivable even 10 years ago.

The flipside, however, is that security is even more important for the simple reason banks have more to protect. Protecting against both intrusion (SQL injection) and interruption (DDoS attack) requires protection at both the server and application level.

And since 2016, there’s been a spotlight on institutional security at a consumer and regulatory level.

FIs will need to keep their websites and their institutions protected using new technologies like blockchain to garner and keep consumer trust.


2. Chatbot customer service

financial chatbot

Robotics and automation have both come a long way in the last few years, and FIs are not immune. Early adopters have started strategic partnerships with incubators and startups to automate customer service functionality.

This makes a lot of sense for banks.

While finances are complicated, most customer support is going to be the same questions. Unlike other industries which might change the situation creating the customer confusion, FIs are often restricted by regulation and their own legacy systems from doing so, creating a clear niche for chatbots.


3. Mobile apps

cibc mobile app

Most major banks now have mobile apps. We can expect to see a continued investment in this web tool for banks in the form of:

  • Expanded in-app functionality
  • Improved app experiences
  • Greater personalization

But it’s not just banks. Fintech services now offer financial services like budgeting, investment, stocks, retirement plans, and savings through apps. Digital-only banks are increasingly common, and app-based banks are not far away.

The takeaway is that the financial industry is increasingly one that can existing entirely within an app infrastructure, and increasingly, that’s the preferred mechanism for user engagement.


4. Digital first Digital only

wealth simple

As we’ve mentioned, digital first has come and gone for banks. And other FIs are soon following. For some perspective on this, the fintech industry was worth a reported $20 billion in 2015, up 66% from the previous year.

The message is clear: digital and money go together like bagels and cream cheese.

So what’s next?

Digital only.

mobile banking

via Tangerine

Already, products and services are cutting their costs by moving more and more things to the digital side. But increasingly, companies are opting for digital only. Apps are the most popular example of this, but there are plenty of robust product offerings like Alliant, a credit union without any physical branches, or Tangerine, Scotiabank’s newly acquired digital-only bank aimed at millennials.


5. Consumer tools

TD Self serve

via TD

The evolution of consumer tools hasn’t happened overnight. It’s been driven for a few years now by two key factors:

  1. Consumer desire for self service
  2. Consumer impatience with jargon-filled, technical forms.

Combined, these have created dozens of digital tools to help consumers better understand what they’re buying (or borrowing), where their money goes, and when bills are due.

Even if it’s just a starting point, they give users a chance to inform themselves before they talk to an expert.

Automated processes are being deployed to supplement expert advice. More of the buying cycle for something like a mortgage is being handled by consumers and computers than by consumers and experts.

With that in mind, tools are no longer simple conversion mechanisms.

Instead, they’re doing real work to help consumers through the buying cycle.

As this trend persists, we can expect to see big integrations with complex data structures and these tools becoming smarter, more accurate, and a more integral part of the buying process.

Over time, we’ll see the consumer/expert relationship take up less and less time as tools like this work better and better.


6. Gamification of services


via Acorns


Games and fun are not really the first things that leap to mind when you think about financial services.

But FIs are starting to use these techniques to drive customer engagement. Acorns, for example, is an app that automatically rounds off your transactions to the nearest dollar and saves that money for you. There’s plenty of classic gamification techniques like goal setting present throughout the app to drive positive user behavior.

save time mint

via Mint

And Acorns is hardly alone.

Apps like Mint and plenty of banks have begun to build in savings rewards programs, progress trackers, and even push notifications to their apps to gamify saving for the future.


7. Less information per page

banking questions

via CBA

Finally, one web trend that we can expect to see transfer over to FIs in a big way is putting less information on every page.

Currently, financial services websites are dense with information, relying on ageing navigation and search principles to help users find their way.

But the real solution is to simply streamline the content itself.

We can expect fewer navigation menus and less content per page to encourage a positive mobile experience and keep users laser focused on what they need. And as apps and other digital journey tools continue to be developed, FIs will simply need less content to serve their customer – something their groaning information architecture is sure to be thankful for.

Do you see another major design or development innovation in banking and technology that you think is on the horizon? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Key Features for Healthcare Websites in 2017

digital healthcare

The complexity, regulatory restrictions, conservative nature of the healthcare industry, and a truly staggering diversity in needs and capabilities of organizations and patients has made healthcare slow to undergo digital transformation.

Yet these very same challenges make healthcare one of the industries that can benefit the most from digital processes.

And nowhere is this more relevant than websites.

Below are seven key features for making sure a healthcare website stays healthy in 2017.


1. User Experience is critical to a healthy website

holland bloorview website cross device

It’s easy to forget that most patients are only patients a tiny fraction of the time.

The rest of the time they’re just people – and they use apps like Facebook, websites like Amazon, book Ubers and get food delivered from their smartphone.

These companies have spent years curating great user experiences.  Whether we like it or not, that’s the standard we’re all held to.

That’s why a positive UX is so important for healthcare institutions: at this point, it’s expected from all of our digital touch-points. And people are unwilling to compromise on UX. They’ll either avoid using the service at all, or take their business elsewhere.


2. Make your website mobile friendly

Holland Bloorview mobile site

This can be wrapped up under user experience, but it’s so important it’s worth calling out.

Four in five Americans have a smartphone now. If anything, that ratio is even higher in Canada.

While laptops and desktops might be used to make complex purchases, an increasing number of user journeys are starting on a phone or tablet.

Essentially, the mobile device is the new gatekeeper. If you want your patients, potential patients, and staff to use your website, it must be easy to use on the smallest screen available.

Fortunately, with responsive designs and content management systems that automatically render beautifully on mobile devices, providing a good mobile experience without increasing IT workload isn’t difficult.


3. Create a wide range of content for patients and other healthcare end users

mylan health coach

The wave of self-service that has swept through other industries is hitting healthcare. We live in an increasingly patient-centric world, where self-service and patient involvement is a key component to the overall healthcare system.

And your website is the sharp edge of this transformation.

That’s why creating content specifically for patients is critical:

  • There’s already demand for it. People want to learn more about their healthcare from a reputable source they trust
  • The more informed the consumer, the lower the overall cost of healthcare. With burgeoning expenses, cost reductions that don’t cut care are essential

Second, your website is for healthcare professionals as well. Whether you have a separate portal, a subdomain, or just a separate section, you need to be creating and providing content for them as well.


4. Personalize your website experience

Personalization is the standard in website marketing now. Amazon, for example, highlights items you’ve previously looked at and items you might like on their homepage.

An example of personalization from Amazon

These types of recommendations could translate well for healthcare websites, provided it complies with HIPAA and PIPEDA, and the patient opts in to it. Particularly for organizations that have patients log into a customer portal, that sort of customization is something to be considered.

For example, imagine you ran a small practice with a customer portal. A patient who is trying to quit smoking logs in to make a regular appointment. That could be an opportunity to serve them content about smoking cessation from within your system.

Using data to drive behavior change is old news. But personalizing to the individual level is one of the best ways to connect with patients online.


5. Systems integration

healthcare systems integration

Healthcare systems are notoriously complex. Part of this is a requirement – it’s a highly specific system and a highly specific use-case. Plus, there are multiple security, privacy, and ethical concerns over data sharing and transparency.

Regardless, the benefit of having data all in one place are too good to pass up.

Not only would this make back-end systems smoother, faster, and cheaper to run, but it would facilitate developments like:

  • Process automation
  • More accurate resource allocation
  • Better diagnoses
  • Faster patient processing

With costs a constant discussion and the healthcare field increasingly populated with disparate organizations, any website design or redesign needs to consider how it’s going to talk to legacy systems.


6. Avoid designing by committee

holland bloorview desktop

Whatever their size, hospitals are run by committees. Between the board of directors, shareholders, benefactors and community engagement managers, trying to appease every agenda and mission can result in a bad website experience.

The solution is to design by community, not committee.

Focus on your current and future patients and their families first and foremost.

Let the patient narratives lead the way to create a more authentic user experience – user retention and satisfaction will follow.


7. Develop secure communication channels

healthcare secure communication

Private enterprises, particularly service providers, have moved beyond simple phone support to include other channels like ticketing systems, live chat, chatbots, and social media-powered help.

Healthcare providers will need to do the same.

Whether it’s a secure system routed through a third party like Twitter or Messenger or it’s a custom-built solution, customers are going to be confused on your site – it’s inevitable.

But, if you can provide timely support in a channel the customer wants (which, incidentally, is a lot cheaper per contact), you can make huge improvements to overall patient satisfaction.

Executing the Teknion Site

executing the site

This post is part of a series covering how we helped our client, Teknion, transform its web presence into customer-centric digital experience.

*In an earlier article in this series*, we discussed how we planned the Teknion site build, starting with broad requirements gathering and finishing with a firm list of objectives and deliverables *(you can read more about it here)*.

The final step in completing the Teknion transformation was to actually execute the transformation.

Here’s how we built Teknion’s new site:

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The Best Online Annual Reports of 2016

The annual report is both a tradition and, for many public companies and institutions, a legal requirement. But with the shift to online annual reports, they’ve also become incredible sources of creativity.

We have a longstanding history helping clients bring their annual reports online, and every year, we take a minute to appreciate some of the best of the best for digital annual reports.

So sit back and relax while we bring you the top 5 annual reports from 2016.

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Planning the Teknion Transition

planning concept

We’re big proponents of thorough project planning. Not only does sound planning save time and money, but it’s essential for a positive project outcome.

When we worked with the Teknion team on their organization’s digital transformation, we spent time understanding their challenges, breaking those broad challenges into specific problems, and then planning how to solve them.

Here’s what that process looked like from the beginning.

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Sitefinity, Strategy, and Teknion

teknion homepage

2017 Teknion website homepage


We’ve mentioned the importance of using a content management system (CMS) before, both in how they can transform a website and how they can transform a business.

Since we’re such advocates, we thought that it’d be good to show how a content management system can help a business rather than just explain the idea.

Enter Teknion and Sitefinity. Teknion is a furniture company that makes high end office solutions for clients all over the world. Sitefinity is the CMS that we used when developing their new website.

Here’s how Sitefinity helped Teknion with their business strategy, and how we deployed Sitefinity to help them expand their customer base.


Allowed the communication of ‘single voice of truth’

Before Sitefinity, Teknion struggled to bring the full calibre of its brand online.

The Teknion site was largely built for developers to manage, and while it was functional, it struggled to deliver a positive experience.

In short, nothing like the refined expertise that the Teknion brand stood for.

What’s more, because there were dozens of smaller websites, each run by a regional marketing team, it was exceedingly difficult to convey a single, cohesive brand message to all of their customers, or even have a cohesive sales experience.

Teknion assets

Teknion assets

In fact, even uniting all the various pieces of content across the board was a challenge, including products and services on offer, since there was simply so much content.

We worked with the creative agency, Pound & Grain, as well as with Teknion, to develop an architecture for their site that was going to effectively tell their brand story in the same way that they’d been telling it with brochures, catalogues, and other traditional marketing collateral for years.

The Sitefinity platform united Teknion’s disparate websites with a single management interface for multiple websites. By using one interface to control many regional and niche websites, Sitefinity allowed the development and deployment of a single voice of truth.

Now all of Teknion’s communication with its customers had the same tone of voice, focused on the same benefits, and carried the same branded look and feel as every other piece of collateral.


Accounting for regional differences

Of course, this sort of centralized control does have its downsides. Namely, regional teams tend to know what their customers want and what they need better than a head office somewhere.

We understood that requirement, which is why we opted to use Sitefinity. From a single interface, it allows easy page personalization for regional marketing teams, keeping the single voice of truth that is so critical to Teknion’s success, while still giving regional teams the control that they need.


Content organization

teknion products

Teknion Products Page

The final step where Sitefinity really shines is in its ability to organize and manage content and the asset life-cycle.

First, Sitefinity integrates with Teknion’s digital asset management (DAM) system of choice, Bynder. Bynder is a modular DAM system that makes content searchable, tag-able, sharable, and mass editable.

For an organization like Teknion that has more than 30,000 pieces of content, keeping it all in order and retiring pieces when relevant is an absolute top priority.

As a result, it was imperative that whatever CMS was deployed needed to integrate with Bynder, so that content could be leveraged effectively by central and regional marketing teams, giving them maximum access to the tools they need to close sales.


Using Sitefinity to transform Teknion

All of these factors — developing a single voice of truth, allowing regional customization, and enabling better content deployment and management — worked to help Teknion transform its business services to solve complex challenges with technology.

Specifically, Sitefinity helps the Teknion team:

  • Make their marketing more trackable
  • Improve their website to be more user-focused
  • Connect with customers and staff in exactly the way that they like

By re-positioning the Teknion website to the core of their operations and marketing efforts, we used Sitefinity to change how Teknion does what they do, both at a superficial level as well as in how they approach and solve completely new problems.

The ROI of Updating Your Web Assets

digital asset management

Anyone who’s ever managed even a small website knows the pain of trawling through folder after folder looking for the right version of the image or document you’re trying to use.

In fact, on average marketers spend about 62 hours annually looking for company assets – assets that have already been produced, verified, checked, edited, double-checked, and had maybe 400 revisions completed on it.

In short, digital asset management (DAM) has a higher cost than may be immediately obvious. Yet, even in the world we live in of constant optimization, DAM all too often sits on the side lines.

But no more.

In this article, we cover the various ways updating your website assets provides a return on investment and can help you optimize your site for a better, more cohesive user experience.


1. Up to date web assets are more relevant

The first piece of ROI is part of conversion optimization. It’s simple:

The more up to date your content is, the more relevant it is to your customer.

This simple fact will help start a positive feedback loop that goes something like this:

  • First, more relevant content will keep people browsing on your site longer (reduced bounce rate).
  • This, in turn, will help your SEO, which takes bounce rate into consideration….
  • Which leads to more traffic.

Since SEO also considers authority, the higher value (e.g. low bounce rate) traffic you have, the better your search engine results page (SERP) position will be, further improving your ranking position and thus how many leads are coming through the door.

The result?

  • More leads coming your way, as you increase the top of the funnel with improved SEO
  • Higher conversion rate since you’re publishing content that’s relevant to customers

Which leads, naturally, to improved ROI.


2. Personalization

digital assets on iPad

80% of consumers want some sort of personalization. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — it’s increasingly obvious that personalized content isn’t just desired by your customers, but expected.

And while many companies have enough digital assets to tailor and tweak content and digital experiences to the people who are browsing, many don’t have the ability to properly deliver this result.


Because serving different content to different audiences, while still being on brand and on message, is a complicated challenge.

That’s where a DAM can help. With a single cloud interface with fully-searchable content and auto-tagging, it’s much easier to apply overall branded assets and standards, as well as approve content or run it past stakeholders if needed. It means that you can trust local teams to produce the digital content they need to in order to convert sales, without sacrificing overall brand value.


3. It’s all about data

Digital marketing is all about data, and understanding:

  • What content performs well
  • What audiences it resonates with
  • What stage of the sales funnel it’s best suited for

And with thousands of pieces of content, from a simple tweet or CTA button to a blog post or a whitepaper or video, keeping it all straight can be a daunting challenge without a DAM.

Of course, you can get the broad strokes in place. For example, you might notice in your Google Analytics dashboard that a particular blog post has a 40% better conversion rate than other blog posts with the same traffic.

But in order to leverage or expand those learnings, you’ll likely need more information.

With digital asset management, you can track and analyse what content performs well, and where, as well as create test scenarios to further optimize your funnels. Over time, you build up learnings and can use those to inform what goes where, as well as future content production.

Over time, you get progressively better ROI as you optimize your entire digital marketing process.


4. Simplified management means less time spent on management

woman working on computer

So far, we’ve really talked about improving ROI directly by improving conversions. But there are other costs associated with content — namely, time.

The more time you spend on producing, administering, and pushing content live, the more expensive it is.

Consider the 62 hour stat we referenced in the introduction. When you think about those 62 hours of marketing coordinator time, the cost of resources (and lost opportunities) becomes obvious.

For a small organization, that might be the same time required for an entire digital ad campaign, a new piece of video creative, a whitepaper, or just more keyword bidding.

By optimizing your digital assets with a DAM system, you not only drive more sales, but do it in less time. It’s really the definition of doing more with less.


Wrap up

DAM systems and how they contribute to ROI is one of those nitty gritty details of digital content marketing that most people would probably rather not think about.

But just through some basic organization, tagging, and streamlined sharing, probably facilitated by a DAM system like Bynder, you can maximize your marketing efficiency for a better ROI.

How a CMS Can Help Your Business Be More Effective

cms statistics

There are a plenty of advantages to using a CMS to run your website. A better experience, easier process to upload content, you may get access to a wide range of plugins and features – these are the things people usually mention.

But there’s a broader benefit of using a CMS for your website – it will help your business become much more effective.

Here are our top four reasons how.

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5 Free Tools Every Content Manager Should Bookmark

hand with laptop in cafe

This article is part of a series on tips, tricks, and tools to help businesses better manage their content online and get the most from their content marketing strategies. Click here to view other articles on CMS Tips

In this article, we’re going to look at five tools that will help you publish better content faster than ever.


1. Grammarly

While we all know content like quizzes, videos, and photos all do REALLY well for audience engagement, the backbone of all content is going to be words. And with Grammarly, it’s easier than ever to find the right ones.

It’s a tool that runs either as a plugin through your browser or as a standalone web or desktop app, and checks your spelling and grammar for anything you’re writing.


Whether you’re posting a Facebook post through Hootsuite or uploading a blog entry through WordPress, Grammarly will interact with it and catch all your ugly typos and misspellings.

And that’s just the free version.

For the paid version ($11.66 per month, if you pay annually), you’ll get access to some nice features that look at your sentence structure, writing style, and vocabulary, making helpful suggestions as you type.

Even for the Hemingways out there, Grammarly is a key tool to keep in your arsenal. Partially, it means that you won’t embarrass yourself by using the wrong ‘your’. But more importantly, it means you can write much quicker, with less need for that second set of eyes before you hit ‘publish’. And when you’re staring down the barrel of a packed content calendar, you need every bit of speed you can grab.

And speaking of scheduling…


2. CoSchedule

coschedule demo

CoSchedule is a piece of software that makes scheduling and managing a content calendar easy.

Like Grammarly, CoSchedule works hard to integrate with as much of your existing software as possible, and especially WordPress.

So, what is it?

It’s basically a calendar app. But a really, really good one.

  • It can help you manage your content with a drag and drop calendar view (a bit like Trello cards)
  • It integrates with social media as well, so you can run your blog and social media calendars all in one place
  • You can assign tasks, set deadlines, create workflows, and build checklists for each piece of content
  • It lets you schedule and re-schedule content automatically (so you can promote something you wrote last week again)

Small teams might benefit less with the current entry price point and feature list, but where CoSchedule can add tremendous value is for teams working with several content managers, especially when contractors or freelancers are involved. The ability to share a view of what’s coming up and track multiple pieces at the same time saves oodles of project manager time and keeps your writers on track.


3. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress. Put simply, is excellent at what it does.

Yoast SEO is a plugin that overlays your standard publishing view in WordPress and automatically ‘grades’ you on your SEO for each and every thing you publish.

Yoast seo

If you set a focus keyword, it will check if you’re using it often enough and if you’re going to rank. It also helps you create an SEO-friendly title and meta-description, and includes a snippet box so you can actually see what your post will look like in a Google SERP.

But where Yoast really shines is its readability checks. It will provide a red, amber, green indicator to let you know the status for each piece of copy, letting you know how easy it is to read. Now it’s not perfect and shouldn’t be relied on completely, but it will give you a general indication of whether what you wrote is any good, or if it’s completely terrible.

Finally, Yoast SEO will help with other more mundane (but important!) on-page SEO factors like breadcrumbs, canonical tags, whether you want to set a no-follow tag, and XML sitemaps. Plus, all this is free!

You can buy the Premium version for $69 per site, which will get you more keyword help, help with internal linking, and better support, but frankly, the free version gets you a lot of the way there.


4. Gyazo

If you’ve ever tried to explain how to use a computer over the phone, you know how valuable a screengrab can be.

Gyazo is a piece of software that makes taking and keeping screengrabs quick and easy.


All you do is install the software (totally free) and you’re all set to go. Just click and capture, then you’re provided with a link that you can drop in and share wherever you want. You can even do video grabs and save them as gifs, so you can show how a button works, what a screen transition is like, or what an expanding menu will look like when it expands.

Plus, they have a Chrome extension, so you can quickly snap screenshots online as you go. There’s also an image categorization system, so you can quickly find the screenshot that you’re looking for when you want it.


5. Unsplash

Finally, we have Unsplash. Unlike these other tools, Unsplash isn’t a piece of software. It’s just a simple database of beautiful, totally searchable, free stock imagery.


via unsplash


You can use it all without violating copyright rules (although you may have to provide credit on some images) and the pictures they curate are 100% amazing. They tend to focus on big sky drone images at the moment, but their selection will change over time with changing photography trends.

For easy access to amazing stock images, bookmark this site!


Think we missed a great tool for content managers? Let us know in the comments below!