Wisdom of the crowds? First direct Web site revamp gets mixed reviews

Wisdom of the crowds? First direct Web site revamp gets mixed reviews

UK bank first direct has overhauled its Web site after collecting ideas from customers through its crowdsourcing portal.

The first direct lab site was launched in August to give visitors the chance to see what the bank is planning and critique it through a comment facility and forum. Among the first topics up for discussion was a Web site redesign, the first phase of which has now been completed.

Among the changes is a new look and feel and improved search functionality. A tools and guides area is dedicated to "helping people help themselves" with financial decisions such as loan amounts or mortgage affordability.

Several changes are designed to make the bank more social, including share functionality, a brand area and information on first direct's communities and social networks.

Natalie Cowen, head, brand, first direct, says: "We wanted to create a space for our customers to take online banking beyond a purely transactional relationship and create more of a first direct community, in short, creating 'online banking with chemistry'.

However, the new site has received mixed reviews, averaging three stars out of five from 144 ratings. Over 300 comments have also been proffered, many negative.

"Oh Dear, From having the best internet banking site you now have the worst> Takes numerous clicks to get anywhere and then when you go into the shares banking - what a fiasco. Very very disappointing," says mortlake9.

First direct recently came out on top in a Which? customer satisfaction survey for online and telephone banking, scoring 93%, the highest ever mark for a bank and five per cent up on its nearest rival.

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