Disclosure: This critique may contain affiliate links, in which event you click and purchase something, I receive a commission. Unless otherwise specified, this post is not sponsored.
This full website critique was not endorsed the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in any way. It was solely done for a portfolio project, with the other two being Canadian Tire and Havelaar Canada. This critique was originally written on May 05, 2016. Though it still carries the original story from 2016, it has been polished and reworked in some areas to meet the personal standards of Millennium Creek in 2018.
If you are reading this, and want a full review of your website that will look just like this, you will need to message me. From there the cost, details, and other bits will be discussed. Finally, for the sake of this critique, I will be writing it towards David McKay as if he were a buyer, who had purchased one of my services.
Upon entering the website from the http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/personal.html URL, I can say that your website looks tidy, organized and modern. The blue, yellow and white colour scheme is proudly reflected all over the page. The logo, banking sections and finance related tools, make it very clear that this website is all about financial services. Judging from this page alone, I can say that my impressions for this website are very good so far. I hope that I will be able to say the same thing, once I am finished browsing through the other areas of your website.
After browsing through many pages of RBC, I can say that the website feels consistent with what it was designed for. It does not take too many clicks to reach a certain area, scrolling is not automatically disabled, nor is it wonky. Your symbols, icons, photos and graphics intended for navigation, work as they should. There is no site map present from the front page of the personal banking area serving Canadian customers. There is a You are in:___ bar at the top of the page to let you know which main area of the website you are in. It does not display the exact section of the website, however. For example: when I click on bank accounts and go to savings accounts, it will not show savings accounts, but will display personal bankings instead. Thankfully, a single click on the RBC logo located near the top left corner of the screen is all it takes to get back to the main banking area of the website. Some of the areas, such as business banking, do not have the You are in: ___ present. Instead, they display a sitemap.
There are some areas, such as the portion for Caribbean customers, that do not have either readily available. I did notice a search box and advanced search options, which can help them reach areas they might be looking for faster. The toggle that allows them to switch between various Caribbean countries is convenient. The language switching option present for Canadian consumers is unavailable for them. This means that they can only explore the website in English, despite the other languages spoken in the Caribbean.
As strange as it feels to mention this, I am pleased to report that I can close tabs or navigate from any portion of your website without getting stopped by messages such as, “Are you sure you want to leave?” or “Wait! Open a TFSA with us within the next 48 hours and receive $1000!” I do not think most websites designed with professionalism in mind would have such pop-ups. Or at least, they certainly should not. It is very irritating for visitors.
When judging the content and value of your website, there are a number of things I considered: the first was relevancy. Your website is about banking and finances, and all the areas reflected this. Tax-free savings accounts, chequing accounts, travel credit cards, U.S.A banking, and several others are notably present. I also looked around the website for typos and grammar errors, and it seems like they are virtually non-existent. For a website this large, it is impressive. I can imagine the effort and diligence it must have taken to get the spelling and grammar impeccable. Products and images here are also properly laid out. An example is with mortgages: when I hovered over mortgages on the first page, a dropdown menu of things pertaining to mortgages appeared. The same thing happens when I click or hover over other topics such as advice, bank accounts, locators and all the other listed services or products.
I did not notice any third party advertisements on the website’s pages, which is excellent. I understand that some website owners use them for a source of income. However, they can be very distracting, annoying, cause pages to load slowly, or freeze depending on the number of them present and running. I did not notice any “last updated on xxxx” on your website’s pages. I did notice that you have a Media Newsroom area where all the news and updates go. I also noticed the Royal Bank of Canada Website, © 1995-2016 at the bottom of the page that lets people know the website is still in operation. PDF files were not too easy for me to find, though I managed to find some in the Personal Banking & Savings Accounts and Newsletters areas.
I did not see any security certificates or badges shown on the main page. Not that they necessarily make a website more secure or legitimate. I did notice an informative Privacy & Security section that mentions how you keep your customers safe. I also attempted to log in as if I were a customer, and the green lock (along with https: turning green) appeared. This proves that the connection to the website is secured. A very great peace of mind for customers, as it would be dangerous to manage sensitive financial information on an insecure server.
User Acknowledgement, Satisfaction and Contact
Given that your website deals extensively with customer service, it is important to look at how well RBC identifies and helps its customers. The first thing that I should mention, is that there is a Contact Us link present. One would assume that this a no-brainer that all websites would have. Sadly, I have been to websites where it was either absent or hard to find. Glad that is not the case with yours. I also see that the Canadian portion has a ribbon at the bottom of the website, linking customers to your website’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn page. This is a great way to allow people to further connect, watch, follow, keep updated, or comment on RBC. The same ribbon also has a search/ask bar with a toggle that displays the top ten frequently asked questions. And finally, I can see that the advice section offers an extensive amount of resources to help people deal with business advice, home ownership, investments and more to show what RBC can do to help people.
Finding your website was very easy, since the name is searched frequently and is widely recognized on North American servers. Figuring out what the main URL to the website is was a bit of a mystery at first. It seems like it will vary depending on what location the severs detect, which had me initially think that the main link is http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/personal.html when it is really supposed to be http://www.rbc.com/canada.html? I will not consider this a flaw, because of the way your website was designed to bring up results based on location, or even the search engines people use. Speaking of search engines and results, I tested the word “RBC” in the search engines of Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask and AOL to see what would come up on the first page. Google, Yahoo and Bing had plenty of direct results, while Ask’s advertisement-cluttered front page did show links to your website, but made it harder to reach. AOL fared well like the others, though it interestingly assumed I was accessing RBC from an American location.
For this part of the critique, I browsed some pages in a few desktop and BlackBerry 10 browsers to get a feel for the user interface and fluidity of your website.
Chrome is the main browser I personally use on a day-to-day basis. It has also been the main browser I used to browse your website. It is very smooth and the pages usually load rapidly. Videos and flash content also worked very well in this browser.
Browsing and opening pages in Edge was a smooth, quick-loading experience. Videos and PDF files worked well for the most part, but there was a short quiz that crashed halfway through. Despite that, I would not consider my RBC experience with Edge bad, but it is not as good as Google Chrome. Nevertheless, It is still fast and can safely get financial transactions done.
Default BlackBerry 10 Browser
The mobile version focuses on products, services, contact and branches. These areas loaded quickly, and I did not face much issues jumping from section to section. That said, I prefer the full experience of the desktop version. It feels less cramped and fonts do not become tiny and require excessive zooming. This problem is exacerbated when the mobile version switches to desktop mode. Now I should answer an important question you would probably ask: Would I ever bank with your company from my browser, if I were a customer? Probably not very often, unless I had to make an important transaction on the road. The reason for this is almost entirely due to my personal preference of banking on my computer’s much larger screen.
Evolution Browser (Third Party Mobile Browser)
Like the default BlackBerry 10 browser, the mobile front page looks the same. Unfortunately, I do not have much good things to say about my experience with this browser. It was jumpy, failed to load certain pages, and would not even let me switch to desktop mode from the website. It also did not let me find branch locations, in comparison to the default browser, which did display the locations. The problems that occurred are largely the developer’s fault in this scenario. But, it is still important to mention third party browsing experiences since many people will sometimes use them instead of their default mobile browsers. Both of the BlackBerry 10 mobile browsers prompted me to download the mobile application. I clicked on it to take a look, but was sent to a version that is no longer available. There is a newer version in BlackBerry World that goes by the title RBC Mobile For BlackBerry 10, but because this is a web critique, as opposed to an application critique, I have not tested it. However, there were a lot of users saying that the application is grossly outdated, missing features, and that it needs be on par with the version for Android and iOS. I do not know how legitimate these claims are. If they are true, I recommend that the developer responsible for the mobile application of your website, updates or creates a modern, refreshed application built for BlackBerry OS 10.3 and newer.
My Final Thoughts and Summary
Now that I have had a solid amount of time to go over your website and critique in various areas, I can finally come to a conclusion: well done! Mister McKay, your website is solid and was truly designed with high degrees of professionalism and security in mind. I do not know how much time was dedicated into putting together such a large, polished website. What I do know is that the effort shows. Continue to keep up the good work and high quality standards, if you wish to remain successful and competitive with other banking rivals.
Inspiration Behind This Post
A continuation of the plan summer plan to put up various types of writings on Millennium Creek. If you read the beginning of this critique, you will know that Canadian Tire and Havelaar Canada will be appearing on Millennium Creek, to join RBC as part of the portfolio for non-endorsed website critiques.