The Co-operative Bank and Nationwide outperformed rival UK banking Websites in an accessibility study conducted by Keynote Research.
The study examined the experience of 2500 consumers as they interacted with ten of the UK's biggest bank Web sites and tried to open an online account. Other sites included in the study were: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, NatWest and RBS.
The findings suggest that Web site design and organisation are the most important factors for potential online banking customers. This was closely followed by the customer support offering. Those Web sites with the highest ranking in these categories were viewed more positively by the panellists, who were also more likely to open an account on these sites.
The Co-operative Bank achieved pole position with strong ratings for customer satisfaction, ease of conversion and brand values.
To measure brand impact, participants were asked for their impressions of the bank's site immediately before and immediately after their online visit. The results imply that features such as customer support and site navigation can affect consumer brand perceptions of the company as a whole - both positively and negatively.
Malcolm Otter, director of consulting for Keynote Systems Emea comments: "As most banks are now offering comprehensive online account management, it is essential that they don't push potential customers to competitors' sites due to a poorly organised home page which lacks customer support."
In technical tests, NatWest was the only site of the ten monitored to have no errors on any page during the peak period hours of the study, while Halifax was judged to have the best responsiveness rating.