Web + Graphic Design tips: What we can learn from CreditKarma.com

Web Design Professional Clinic: CreditKarma

I’ve been exploring Alexa.com in order to explore web design and messaging strategies. Using Alexa’s “Browse Top Sites” button is an extremely efficient way to explore popular website designs. To give context, I’m less focused on rank than on how the presentation and value of content delivers impressive statistics.

What can we learn about graphic + web design from CreditKarma.com (US Site Rank #509)?

According to Alexa’s data, CreditKarma.com*:

  • Currently ranks #509 in the U.S. and 2,220 globally (based on a 3-month average of page views and number of visitors)
  • Has a bounce rate of less than 15%
  • Gets 4.89 daily page views per visitor
  • Time on site of 4:55 minutes

The site has a very high ranking, with a low bounce rate of 15%. The content is expansive, but also digestible due to their use of small, bite-sized structures. The value and relevance of content may explain the just under 5-minute average time on site. Over 85% of site visitors are quickly engaged, and explore beyond the first page they land on.

What can we learn about graphic + web design from CreditKarma’s site?

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Above: Creditkarma Home Page

A Strong, Simple Message Pulls Visitors In.

Creditkarma® comes to the point very quickly with a message about “your credit score”. A large orange call to action right next to the primary message does a great job of commanding your attention over a number of complex-looking charts and graphics.

Interestingly, aside from the nav bar at the top of the page, the “Get Started” button is the only other link in the top portion of the home page. Using a single entry point can be a very effective to move people into websites that offer a service. Creditkarma’s proposition is that you can receive access to a lot of valuable information by signing up for free.

TIP: Consider simplifying your primary message and incorporating a call to action button or link prominently on your home page.

A Strong Message Can Help Interface Design

Scrolling down the home page reveals numerous small icons and chart-like graphics. The light-colored background made up of gradients is clean, but when combined with the similarly colored light colored graphics creates a busy-looking user interface design. In addition, the generous spacing between the subheads, graphics and text descriptions make a single callout appear to be three. Even though a few design adjustments could make for a stronger visual presentation, the content is useful and valuable which more than makes up for the overall appearance.

From a creative point of view, the headline “Your Credit Score Should Be Free – and Now It Is.” speaks to two issues: 1) the value proposition of “Creditkarma”; and 2) why in the past should anyone have had to pay to get their credit information. The style and tone of the headline presents Creditkarma as an entity that shares the beliefs of their customers.

TIP: Use design to enhance your visitor flow and overall visual quality of your website. Lead with a value proposition that is relevant to your buyer personas.

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Above: Primary and Secondary navbar

Feature Popular Content Prominently.

Visitors may want to know more about the company, but Creditkarma features links in the nav bar that pertain directly to the most popular credit-related concerns. The Creditkarma website also effectively uses information hierarchy by creating the appearance of a secondary nav bar with links to how their service works and a help center. The use of the words “Help Center” are certainly more engaging than “Support” or “Questions”.

TIP: Consider using analytics to identify and highlight popular content in the main nav bar and move less important page or section links elsewhere on the page.

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Above: Member Forum page

A Forum for Ideas and Experience Can Build Loyalty.

You tend to see user forums on websites for software and products more than you do for a service such as Creditkarma. I believe the reason the Creditkarma forum is effective is because they created a sense of “community”. Visitors can sign up and learn from each other, connect and share experiences with credit-related services. The community environment naturally contributes to the amount of time spent on the site, and the high value content.

TIP: Consider creating a sense of community by adding user groups, forums, ratings systems or other means of connecting stakeholders groups to each other.

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Above: Home Loan Page

A Friendly Tone Can Help Build Trust.

Generally, everyone responds to others who come across in a friendly and helpful way. Creditkarma does this effectively by creating a sense that they are anticipating your needs. For example, when a visitor navigates to the “Loans” page, they’re immediately met with a listing of 25 home loans you can learn more about by pressing the action-oriented “Take Offer” button. The loan content is generated by banks and finance companies partnering with Creditkarma. The default loan landing page also presents a secondary nav bar where users select the type of loan they’re interested in. If you decide to sign up and login, you can use a profiling tool which will help narrow the options. Creditkarma keeps the presentation of loan offers simple: term, APR, Monthly payment. To learn more, you have to drill down. In other words, they’ve provided enough information to whet the appetite, but not enough to make a decision without learning more. This approach reduces bounce rates, and increases time on the site.

TIP: Consider presenting helpful information in a concise manner that anticipates needs. Providing content where and when visitors want it helps strengthen your brand by creating a perception that you understand your audience and are interested in helping them.

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Above: Advice, product ratings, user generated content

Leverage User Experience and Insight.

A popular strategy for achieving higher search ranking is to continually add original content related to search queries you seek traffic from. What better way than to adding user-generated content. Creditkarma leverages this methodology beautifully. Several sections of their site are loaded with user-generated content. Virtually any topic you search will provide access to read content from other users. And many of the credit products shown on the site are rated by Creditkarma users. Just as a friendly tone builds trust, so does peer-reviewed content. Credit karma even tracks ratings on user generated content.

TIP: Consider adding testimonials or content areas where visitors can post content. A simple blog with a comments area is a start. User-curated content takes the idea further and may help improve your search ranking.

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Above: Help Center Landing page

Make Your Help Section Easy To Use.

Creditkarma does a good job handling “Help”. When you arrive at the “Help” page, there are two jumping off points that will suit almost any visitor. For the user who wants to be specific, they can use a search tool. For more common issues, such as member login or account information, Creditkarma provides shortcut links to each. In addition, they have help videos and text links to a number of articles about using the website as well as the subject of credit.

TIP: Consider adding content to address common questions, request or issues. Add content that shows you care about your visitors and helps them make better decisions about your product or services.

Next Steps:

Perform your own design audits of high-ranking websites. See if you can apply the same effective techniques and approaches to your own design work.

When you’re ready to embark on a online design (or redesign) project, make sure you understand the brand’s buyer personas. When your brand online content and design aligns with accurate buyer persona data, you’ll be on your way to improving your site ranking and other important analytical data that translates to achieving business goals.

Need Help Planning Your Creative Strategy or User Interface Design?

Please give us a call, or search for a web + graphic design firm who can assist you with the process. One important factor in the selection process should be whether a creative firm can articulate your product’s key advantages from the customer’s point of view. A demonstration of creative is not as important as being able to interpret your input and translate it into a clear statement of strategy, communication goals, and key performance indicators.

*Copyright © 2007–2014 Credit Karma™, Inc. Credit Karma is a registered trademark of Credit Karma, Inc. All Rights Reserved. † As of 9.17.14
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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