For some time now, branch/ATM locators have been standard feature on banking websites. They began in the late 1990s as crude lists providing an address and maybe a phone number.
Today, locator tools are more robust, with branch hours, maps, pictures, and more. Still, many provide a simple listing instead of the locations pinpointed on a map.
The list is well laid out, but you must wade through it to find the closest branch, then drill down through the links to find more details and a map.
Compare that to the tool at Bank-Anywhere.com <bank-anywhere.com>, a mashup of Google Maps and the FDIC branch location database <www.fdic.gov>. Here's a list of all banks in my zip code 98115. Clicking on the bank icon or the list on the right side triggers a pop-up callout with additional info.
Branch-Anywhere is in public beta after a Sept. 15 launch (see its blog). The company behind it is Dash Space, a Vancouver, BC-based developer with such a low profile they don't appear on Google searches. They did respond promptly to our email questions (email here).
Financial institutions should consider using a similar approach on their websites and either program the function themselves, or outsource it to Bank-Anywhere.com or others. It is important for this logical link to make a good first impression with potential customers of your bank. The Ajax-based map not only looks more sophisticated and up-to-date, but also is easier to use.