Three-Year Effort Concludes With Redesigned Website

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Heritage Credit Union's website just wasn't cutting it anymore. Members were having a hard time finding information and front-line employees were actually a little embarrassed to show new members the existing site.

Now, after three years of work that has included a rebranding effort and a new logo, it has also taken the wraps off its new website.

"This was the last piece of the puzzle," Heritage CU Marketing Director Cindy Sutherland said. "It feels so good to have it done."

With members in Wisconsin and Illinois, Sutherland said, Heritage staff spent months asking employees and members how and where they would look for products and information on a website. With 20,000 members and seven branches scattered across the two large Midwestern states, not surprisingly, the answers varied significantly. Sutherland said some members are high-tech savvy, while others don't even own a computer.

The old site was simply outdated with too many colors and design clutter, with one section even labeled "Other Stuff." In response, Heritage CU hired Madison-based design firm NetPhoria, which has created websites for the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) and Great Wisconsin Credit Union. Heritage CU staff quickly learned the world of design brings its own challenges. The new site needed to be clean, but it also needed to be warm to entice visitors. It needed to highlight all CU products and programs, but it couldn't look cluttered either.

"It's not very easy," Sutherland acknowledged.

The new site has all navigation buttons located at the top with drop down menus showing members where to go. A critical aspect of the new website is that members have to log in to their own accounts from the Heritage front page. Requiring members to use the front page offers the credit union the chance to showcase new informational pieces, special events, news alerts and loan products.

"In the past, they were marking their favorites. They wouldn't see our CD rates," she said. "Members couldn't find things."

Photographs of couples and families in relaxing poses greet members with the screen divided into four sections titled "What's New," "Current Promo," "Online Banking," and "CD Specials." Sutherland said the information will be refreshed as often as three times per month and will be archived for future use. Pages within the website will feature banner ads that will provide cross selling opportunities for Heritage CU products, such as auto loans or home equity loans.

Sutherland said membership reaction has been very favorable citing the website as warm and welcoming, which she said was the goal of the redesign effort.

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