Narwhal On:

The Decoupled Approach That Transformed Banking

Digital Marketing
Web Design


Dedicated to differentiating themselves as a regional bank who cares deeply about its customers, S&T Bank, operating in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, needed more from their website. They wanted its content and experience to flow the same way as the personal relationships inside their branches — naturally, and through easy, helpful interactions. To achieve this, they hired Narwhal to reimagine their website and implement decoupled architecture. 

The goal of this move was to effectively modernize every stage of the customer’s digital journey — creating a limitless customer experience, rather than a restricted one. By streamlining their online experience and removing friction from the account opening process, S&T opened a new channel of communication with customers — better positioning themselves for the future. With these changes, they can also use their website as a springboard for innovation, with expanded campaigning capability that allows them to grow into new markets and better support communities in general.

[.intro-line]Why S&T Bank Needed a Digital Upgrade[.intro-line]

The existing S&T Bank site had some obvious problems, like performance and reliability. Their site had constant outages, and this frustration peaked at the onset of COVID-19, a time when the bank really needed to be there for their customers and serve them online.  

Another issue was their lack of marketing agility when it came to the website as it related to evolving digital needs. They couldn't easily create landing pages, or do any sort of testing or iteration, which limited their ability to direct people back to the site easily. They couldn't move into a digital-first organization if they couldn't be nimble on their site.

Finally, S&T Bank wanted to expand their footprint, which required a more seamless solution for online account opening and interactive functionality to help people through the process. Enter, Merlin, the financial wizard, which was built and launched alongside the site and its new offerings. 

[.intro-line]Our Solution: WebOps, Decoupled Architecture & Pantheon[.intro-line]

S&T Bank wanted to combine multiple projects into one single platform to really shift and position them to a digital leader in the financial services industry. In addition to reimaging the website, we also managed two other projects simultaneously:

  1. Merlin: Merlin is a recommendation engine branded as a financial wizard to help customers choose the account or the product that's best for them. 
  2. Online Account Opening (OAO): Their account opening tool needed to be completely revamped to ensure a better customer experience. 

First, they needed to address the site reliability issues. They moved the website to Pantheon, which, in addition to eliminating site outages, had the added bonus of allowing them to utilize a WebOps framework to facilitate collaboration between S&T, Narwhal and Pantheon. With this framework in place, they were able to move quickly along parallel project plans to launch an entirely new user experience and functionality.

[.stat]Conversions on the new site increased by [.stat][.stat-number]46%[.stat-number]

[.intro-line]The Switch to Decoupled Architecture[.intro-line]

When building the site, Narwhal decided to use decoupled architecture, to help ensure the site afforded maximum creativity without compromising performance. 

“We went to decoupled firstly for performance, knowing that with sites that have a million plus visits a month, having to load a dynamic site that renders on load every time, versus having a static site, there's a huge difference there,” said Jacob Willis, Account Director at Narwhal Digital. 

Jennifer Ready, founder and partner at Narwhal digital, took the idea of performance a step further. “We have found that some of the most sophisticated, creative designs we've done have ended up being less performant. And so decoupled is a path that married those two things, allowing us to have that creative flexibility while retaining performance.”

[.intro-line]A Result to Transform the Banking Experience[.intro-line]

Not only did Narwhal improve S&T’s performance and add much-needed new features, we did it fast — in less than a year. Utilizing a WebOps approach allowed them to work quickly and collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure the entire team was focused on both the short- and long-term goals of the project. 

Now, S&T Bank’s site offers customers easy navigation, helpful tools, and plenty of accessible  information to help customers make informed financial choices. And as for the company itself, S&T Bank is now well-positioned to become digital leaders in the financial sector. 

Copy courtesy of Pantheon

S&T achieved maximum creativity without compromising performance.
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