Deconstructing Currency UK, a Foreign Exchange website
Spring is in the air, and it’s the time of year in which we seem to take more risks, make big decisions, change jobs, and move house. With fresh starts happening all around us, I thought it would be topical to take a look at a website that deals in helping people to make such transitions – in this case, emigrating. This month I’ll be analysing the website of foreign exchange company Currency UK, with Web Design Psychology in mind. Below I’ve diced up their gridded ‘home’ page, and we’ll be looking at each section in our analysis below.
Clean, organised, and a bit bland. This website, whilst happily not overloading the viewer with too much information, lacks warmth and personality. The monochromatic palette is restful on the eyes, however in a competitive market this doesn’t stand out from the crowd or encourage you to engage with the site. It’s forgettable and un-exciting, and does nothing to provide an alternative, positive view of how foreign exchange services could be.
Since forex is typically viewed as a dry, pragmatic field, Currency UK could seize this opportunity to take advantage over their competitors, by providing their visitors with a refreshingly (and unexpectedly) engaging, uplifting user experience. One simple and powerful way to achieve this is to contextualise their forex services in a narrative. In this case, the most effective way of doing this is to show their clients that they understand their needs – swift, reliable forex services – and can provide them with the perfect solution. In this case, it’s not just about the money – it’s about an easy transition from one home to another, making the process quick and easy so that their clients know their money is in good hands. It’s about lightening the client’s mental and physical load.
We’re basically talking here about communicating and selling a narrative – ‘an easy move from the UK to abroad’. And if you flesh out this narrative with videos of authentic client-testimonials and photos of their clients in before / after photos, this will reinforce the message that the company understands your needs and can provide you with the fastest, most reliable way to get from A to B.
Hierarchy of information
#1 Logo / Header
The logo is clean, but again lacks impact. The red and black combination may be a little agressive, though the contrast does make the logo noticeable. The grey background reduces the contrast and hence the legibility of the text, but the bold black type of the telephone number (on the right hand side) provides a clear call to action. The simple inclusion of the date and time makes the site look ‘current’, and the use of red on the live clock creates a sense of urgency as the seconds tick past – this may either encourage swifter action (which, as the clock is situated directly beneath the number, could mean ‘call us now’), or create a latent discomfort in the viewer influencing them to navigate away.
The strapline ‘Foreign Exchange Specialists’ is informative but unremarkable, and doesn’t set this company apart from its competitors.
The navigation is clean, uncluttered, and well-ordered – an exemplary use of drop-downs.
#3 Image slider
Including an image slider in the homepage is useful, as it provides dynamic content which will attract attention and create a sense of engagement. However the three images used here are muted (in terms of colour) and a bit text-heavy. The text content is in a light font which makes it harder to read against the background – rather than to enhance the desired message, this serves to create interference and works against their goal. Also the interval between slides is too brief to give the viewer enough time to read the content, which further weakens its impact.
The sidebar is chunked into 4 sections, and the graphic background behind each serves to lift the sections ‘off the page’. This creates a nice textural element to the site, and adds to the sense of interaction by making this section look more 3D and real. However, by keeping each of these sections in the same grey, no real hierarchy is established except in the placement of each item in order of height on the page. The easy-to-use currency box is great for giving people free information (instilling the principle of reciprocity in their clients, and increasing the chances of people paying for the company’s services), but Currency UK could be missing a trick by not highlighting the ‘Travel Cash’ and providing a clear call to action that will provide them real business.
The social media box adds a much-needed splash of colour to the site, and conveys a message of accessability and ease of communication. This company is a modern one that knows its clients and will communicate with them in their preferred medium.
#5 Main content
Here the main content is divided neatly into two sections, each reflecting the two types of clients that the site wishes to attract: Personal and Business. Whilst the information is laid out clearly, it’s completely text-based and offers no visual clue as to the difference between each service. These two sections could be improved by including a distinctive colour or icon to distinguish between the Personal and Business boxes, and the ‘Apply now’ and ‘Request a quick quote’ buttons could also do with differentiation.
In terms of the general colour scheme of this content (and the rest of the homepage), it’s interesting to note the following research findings:
For sites where retention and readability… are a major concern; black on white text should be used. This advantage appears to be the result of both the contrast ratio of black and white and the convention or familiarity, since white on black text (equivalent contrast, but much less common) was rated much lower on readability. *
However, since this site is not simply one which offers information but also aims to win over the custom of the visitors, it may be worth considering the use of chromatic colours as backgrounds for buttons or sections presenting a call to action. For example,
Combinations involving the color blue, and including two chromatic color (e.g. light blue on dark blue) appear to be preferable to a combination with less contrast and including a chromatic color (e.g. cyan on black) for promoting positive affect and behavioural intention.*
#6 Latest news
Including a ‘latest news’ section on the site communicates both the company’s commitment to engage with the client, and its active involvement in the world of forex. This adds credibility and a human element to the company, and provides clients with a reason to keep engaging with and returning to the site. This offer of free, expert information instils trust and encourages long-term interaction from the client, and will help foster company-client relationships that can lead to continued business and a loyal customer base. The general points made above for the design of the main content also apply here.
The footer is concisely divided into a simple copyright notice and sitemap, and below, important information pertaining to the company’s legal information.
The copy on the Currency UK site is clean, save for one tiny typo (should be “what will happen to GDP in 2011″ not “is under the FX Outlook for 2011″ section).
These high standards and attention to detail are important – the mistake-free writinginspires trust. This is needed when dealing with money.
The line “request a quick quote” works very well. The inclusion of the word “quick” makes all the difference. Firstly, people know it is not going to take long (they haven’t got time to waste). Secondly, however, it also makes the process sound less heavy, less serious, more do-able, and so more people will click through.
In the “Personal currency exchange” section, the use of the word “secure” inspires confidence. The use of testimony “No wonder so many people have chosen CurrencyUK” is also an effective tool – we are more likely to do something that comes with a recommendation.
Under the Business Currency Exchange section the claim of “best exchange rates” is one the reader might doubt. Could someone else also argue they are “best”? “Best” is often best avoided.
Overall, the copy is good, clear and clean. There is not much character in evidence, however.
This may again come down to an issue of trust – the plain tone is inoffensive. Done carefully, some depth and character could be added to the copy to make it more memorable.
Whilst this site is well-conceived, and implements effective design strategies to engage with and provide for their potential clients, there are elements and techniques discussed here that would transform this site from good to great. I hope this post has been informative, and if you’d like to email me with any suggestions or comments, I would be happy to hear from you. Thanks for reading!
* Hall, R. H., & Hanna, P. (n.d.). The impact of web page text-background color combinations on readability, retention, aesthetics, and behavioral intention. Behavior and information technology. Retrieved from http://ctel.mst.edu/documents/LITE-2003-04.pdf
If you’d like to read more, join us next month when we’ll be deconstructing another website using the principles of Web Design Psychology.
If you have any comments, suggestions or tips on this post do comment, I’d love to hear what you think.
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