Categories
Website Design

Best Web Design Trends for Financial Advisor Websites

Your website plays a huge role in creating a lasting impression of your brand. A generic looking site makes it seem like you didn’t put much thought and effort into your online presence.

If you’re building a website from the ground up, you’ll need to know what the latest and most popular web design trends are. This will help you keep up with the competition and present a more modern image to your target audience.

Minimalism

Modern websites don’t need to cram many things into a single page. It’s harder to capture people’s attention if there are too many things going on at the same time.

Adopting a minimalist design helps people focus on one or a few messages at a time, and makes things easier to digest. 

Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean you’re only providing limited information. You can lead them to different parts of the page and introduce new ideas one step at a time using icons and other visual elements.

Above the Fold Content

Above-the-fold content consists of everything that’s immediately visible when someone first lands on your page. The ‘fold’ is the bottom of the screen. If people want more information, they can scroll down past the fold.

In a way, minimalism and above-the-fold design go hand in hand. You want to create as much impact with less elements to pique people’s interests. 

You also don’t have to worry about keeping essential information away from view. People are used to scrolling down pages to get more information – especially if they’re using their smartphone.

Microinteractions

Microinteractions are small animations that provide feedback to users when they interact with specific design elements. This could be as simple as adding mouseover events or confirmation animations. It’s the same type of feedback animations that people get when they use apps on their smartphones and other interactive website apps.

Adding a couple of strategic microinteractions to your website gives it a polished and modern feel that people have become accustomed to in their everyday lives.

Video and Motion Graphics

Videos and animated graphics are not new in the world of web design. But these elements are becoming more and more important today if you want to capture people’s attention. 

Nowadays, people watch dozens if not hundreds of video clips on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It’s one of the most effective ways to convey a message, especially for people who don’t have time to do in-depth research.

Even a simple video background or motion graphics on your homepage makes it look dynamic, engaging and exciting. It lets you tap into people’s emotions to make them more interested in your brand.

Final Words

When you incorporate modern web design trends into your financial website, you’re also making a bold statement that your firm is ready to face today’s challenges head on. You’re not someone who’s stuck in the past. You embrace technology and you use it to your advantage to give the best service and the best returns for your clients.

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Website Design

What’s the Best CRM for Financial Advisors?

CRM or Customer Relationship Management software is an essential tool for any modern business. CRM software lets you easily keep track of your prospects, leads and clients. It also helps you efficiently manage these relationships to increase the chances of conversions.

As a financial advisor, building and nurturing relationships with your leads and clients is fundamental to the growth of your business. It’s very seldom to find someone who will sign up with your firm after just one or two exchanges. You’ll need to constantly stay in touch with your prospects if you want to build your client list. 

CRM solutions make this process a whole lot easier by keeping track of contact information, account records, email messages, and calendar appointments. It also gives everyone else in your team access to this information so that they’re always updated about the status of every prospect or client.

CRM tools can also automate processes such as: 

      • Client data collection
      • Lead scoring 
      • Follow-ups 
      • Sales calls
      • Appointment scheduling
      • Referrals and collaboration
      • Analytics and Reporting

This allows you to save time and maximize the potential of every prospect you get.

Because of all the advantages that CRM solutions offer, they’re used in every type of industry. But some packages are more suitable for financial advisors than others. 

CRMs for financial advisors have built-in workflows that specifically cater to the needs of different sized practices. This means you won’t need to hire a consultant to develop a new workflow from scratch.

Financial Advisor CRMs also allow you to quickly view your clients’ financial data all in one place. Just type in a name and you’ll see all the details of their financial portfolio without having to dig through different databases and websites.

Let’s take a look at some of the top CRM solutions for financial advisors available today.

Redtail Technology CRM

Redtail Technology is one of the first to offer CRM software tailored specifically for financial advisors. They’ve been serving the market since 2003 and have since developed a very robust offering that’s very easy to use. Because of this, they have a huge share of the financial advisor market that dwarfs all of its competitors.

Redtail’s pricing model is unique compared to the others as well. They charge $99 monthly per database which includes access for up to 15 users.

Wealthbox

Wealthbox is a relatively new player in the industry but has enjoyed rapid growth due to its very easy-to-use CRM platform. It’s ideal for smaller firms and independent advisors that don’t have much spare time or resources available for training and additional configuration. 

It doesn’t skimp on features though. It’s got great email and collaboration tools, as well as great integration with social media platforms, eMoney and Riskalyze.

Pricing starts at $35 monthly per user for the Basic plan, and goes up to $65 for the Premier plan.

Envestnet Tamarac CRM

Envestnet’s Tamarac CRM is another long-standing player in the financial advisor CRM space. Tamarac CRM is also geared toward serving independent financial advisors while offering great integration with lots of other partner platforms. It also has great analytics and business intelligence capabilities. 

Tamarac CRM also has lots of tools that add value to your clients’ overall experience such as a client portal, interactive and PDF reports, a document vault, budgeting tools and a mobile app.

Pricing information is only available via consultation.

AdvisorEngine Junxure

Junxure’s claim to fame is that it’s made by financial advisors for financial advisors. Its primary advantage is its integration with portfolio management firms and financial tech companies like TD Ameritrade, Schwab and Fidelity to easily capture your clients’ financial data. Clients can also easily access their financial data and personalized reports via a client portal.

However, while the additional integration makes automating workflows much easier, syncing it with non-supported systems can be more difficult.

Junxure only has a single pricing tier which costs $65 monthly per user.

Salesforce – Financial Services

Salesforce is the largest and most well-known CRM solution. They offer a Financial Services product that’s used by big institutions like wealth management firms, insurance companies, as well as retail and commercial banks. It’s fully customizable and fully featured, but the downside is its steep learning curve. It will need a lot of customization for you to be able to get the most out of it.

It’s also quite expensive, starting at $150 monthly per user, compared to other CRM solutions we’re comparing.

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Website Design

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Financial Advisor Websites

Hackers and cybercriminals are well aware that financial advisors have access to their clients’ financial information. This makes you a prime target for different kinds of attacks.

As a trusted custodian of people’s sensitive personal and financial data, you should be vigilant about keeping your customer data safe from prying eyes. A simple breach can cost you millions in lost business and damage your practice’s reputation. 

Aside from putting in place security protocols and measures to ensure your devices and systems are safe from cyber attacks, you should also make sure your website is not vulnerable.

A common phishing tactic is when hackers introduce malicious code or even replace pages on your website to collect data from your site visitors. On the surface, everything looks legitimate to your customers, but their personal information is actually being routed somewhere else whenever they try to sign in to their account or fill up a form.

You can protect your website from cyberattacks and remove potential vulnerabilities by acting on the tips we’ll provide below. Your developer or web designer should be familiar with these basic cyber security measures, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of them and double check if they’re in place.

Install a Security Plugin

An easy way to add some protection to your website is to install a security plugin. It’s absolutely essential if you don’t have a developer who can maintain and keep an eye on your website. 

Security plugins like iThemes Security and Wordfence for WordPress websites, for example, can automatically apply fixes for the most common security issues. These plugins can also monitor and notify you of threats to your website.

These plugins will use additional resources and may slow down your site, but it’s always better than nothing.

Update and Patch Regularly

Your website needs to be regularly updated and patched just like any IT asset. Updates are necessary because they address and fix bugs and vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. 

Simply using the latest frameworks, libraries and plugins helps you stay one step ahead of the majority of hackers.

Ensure Your Website Configurations Are In Order

It’s important to regularly check that all security-related configurations on your website are enabled. If you’re installing a new component, double check if there are additional settings you need to configure. Some updates can also reset configurations to their default setting and leave you vulnerable to attacks. You should also make sure your website configurations aren’t easily accessible in an unencrypted file on your server, or even worse, hidden somewhere in the code.

Install an SSL Certificate

Your site probably already uses an SSL certificate but it’s still a good idea to understand what they actually do. 

SSL certificates are required to be able to use HTTPS – the secure version of HTTP. You can verify if you’re using HTTPS if there’s a padlock icon to the left of your website address. 

Nowadays, browsers will show a warning before displaying unsecure websites that don’t use HTTPS. Of course, when your users see such a warning, alarm bells tend to go off in their heads. Research has also shown that HTTPS websites get better SEO rankings than HTTP sites.

In a nutshell, SSL certificates are necessary to encrypt the data transferred between your users and your website. This prevents man-in-the-middle attacks where someone can just swoop in and read any information, such as usernames and passwords, that your users are entering into your website. Even if somebody accesses the data, they won’t be able to read it without your SSL certificate because it’s still encrypted.

Use Strong Passwords

Adopting a strong password policy gives you an extra layer of protection against attacks. Even the most stringent website security measures can easily be breached if someone on your team or one of your users has a weak password. 

A strong password that requires upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters are much harder to crack using brute force methods. This should be required for both website visitors, as well as people who have access to your website server.

You can also add extra layers of security by requiring routine password changes or multi-factor authentication.

Limit Access to Your Site with User Roles

Not everyone who works on your site has to have administrative or root access. You should only grant these permissions to people who need them. Writers or contributors, for example, should have more limited access to your site. Otherwise, they might end up changing things they shouldn’t be touching. 

You should also keep track of your users and make sure privileges are revoked when it’s no longer required. You don’t want a contractor to continue to have access to your site long after their job is finished. 

Secure File Uploads 

If you allow users to upload files onto your site, make sure you have ways to validate the files first. Uploaded files can contain malicious code and scripts that could compromise the security of your website and your user data. You should also make sure uploaded files can’t be executed to prevent malware from running amok on your servers.

The best way is to integrate a third party like Dropbox to take care of file uploads since they can do a much better job at securing files. If any malicious files do get through, it won’t affect your site because it will be on a separate server.

Maintain Regular Backups

In case your website goes down due to an attack or some unforeseen circumstance, a recent backup should always be ready to go. It’s important to have your backups off-site so that it isn’t affected in case the entire server goes down or if there’s any hardware failure. Having multiple redundant backups is always a good idea to avoid extended downtime. 

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Website Design

How to Design a Financial Website That Appeals to Millennials

As of 2020, millennials have grown to become the largest population group in the world. There are over 72 million millennials in the U.S. alone, making up roughly 22% of the country’s population.

From these numbers alone, it’s quite obvious that millennials are an extremely important demographic that businesses should target. But before coming up with a marketing strategy, we need to have a better understanding of who they are first. 

Who are Millennials?

A millennial is someone who was born between the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. People in this demographic’s age ranges from mid 20s to late 30s. 

They succeed the Gen X demographic and the much older baby boomers. Those who were born after the millennials are part of Gen Z – also known as zoomers – and are just starting to enter adulthood.

Given their typical age, millennials make up the largest chunk of the workforce. The oldest millennials have well-established careers by now or are on their way up the corporate ladder. 

What Makes Millennials Different?

Millennials are unique because they’re the first true digital natives. They witnessed the explosive growth of the Internet and social media, and were the first to grow up using personal computers and mobile devices in their daily lives. Consequently, millennials are very tech savvy and are quick to adopt new technology. 

According to research, millennials tend to get married much later in life compared to previous generations, and only 44%, or less than half, are married. They also tend to have children much later in life, and only 3 out of 10 millennials live with a spouse and a child. 

Millennials also have a higher level of education compared to Gen X and baby boomers. They’re also more ethnically and racially diverse. 

Education plays a huge role in the millenial’s income. While incomes have remained mostly flat for comparable ages in the last half century, millennials with a college education earn significantly more than those who don’t. Despite the additional income that higher education is able to provide, more millennials are saddled with student loan debts.

Millennials were also greatly affected by the housing recession of 2008, which affected their ability to accumulate wealth. This has caused many millennials to delay buying homes. 

Since millennials are still in their prime working age, yet are burdened with a rising cost of living and increased debt, they need financial advisors and prudent financial planning more than ever before. 

Why Your Website Needs to Appeal to Millenials

Millennials grew up witnessing the birth and evolution of the Internet to what it is now. They can easily tell whether a website has been professionally designed, if it’s regularly updated, or if it’s been largely neglected for several years. 

Millennials will turn to the Internet first to find information and recommendations before asking their friends and family for advice. This is a golden opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. 

Your website will be the first point of contact for many people. It should present your financial advisor practice and brand in the best light possible. 

You only have a couple of seconds to leave a good impression, so it has to look outstanding and credible upon first glance. Your website also has to pique people’s interests and compel them to find out more about your products and services.

Once you’ve gotten their attention, your website also has to deliver accurate and valuable information. This will increase your trustworthiness and improve your brand’s image.

Let’s dive deeper into a couple of proven strategies that will make your website a more effective marketing tool for millenials.

Use Modern Web Design

A website that looks like it was put together quickly or hasn’t been updated in years doesn’t inspire much confidence. It plays a huge role in creating a positive brand image, so it has to at least be able to keep up with what your competitors and other successful websites are doing.

The days of static web pages are long over. Even simple websites need a touch of flare to entice visitors. 

Current web design trends embrace minimalism and do away with unnecessary clutter. Despite this, designers are still able to introduce modern design elements to make websites more interesting and engaging. 

Bold and powerful imagery is key to capturing people’s attention. Background videos, animations and microinteractions will make your homepage more dynamic. Intelligent use of different fonts and typefaces should also be a priority. 

Prioritize the User Experience

A flashy website is great, but during the design period you should also look into providing the best user experience possible. A poorly designed website will be frustrating to use and won’t entice visitors to check out the different pages of your site. This prevents you from maximizing its true potential.

Make sure your pages are easy to scroll through and that the most important ideas are presented upfront. 

Making your website more intuitive to use will increase the average time spent on your site and lowers bounce rates. Search engines keep track of these metrics to see how useful and valuable your website is to consumers. The more useful your site appears, the better your search rankings will be.

Optimize for Mobile 

Millennials are very tech savvy and will tend to have multiple mobile devices. If you don’t adopt a mobile-friendly design philosophy, then your user experience will suffer tremendously.

Make sure your website is responsive and shows up properly on different screen sizes and screen resolutions. Some people may have spotty mobile connections so you’ll need to optimize your pages to make them load up as quickly as possible. If your site doesn’t load up properly in 2 to 3 seconds, then there’s a high chance people will simply move on to the next search result. 

Add Social Media Buttons

Millennials like to connect with brands they love. Add links to your social media pages so that they can easily follow your pages and receive updates about your business through their feeds. 

Having an active social media profile also shows them that you care about your brand’s identity and that you openly invite customer engagement. This strengthens people’s trust in your brand, and helps you build and nurture individual relationships with potential clients.

You can also add buttons to your pages so that people can easily share them on social media. This makes your website more engaging to use and gives your pages more visibility.

Be Authentic and Provide Meaningful Content

Since millennials have been using the Internet for most of their lives, they’ve pretty much seen it all. You won’t be able to draw them in with generic content that’s only focused on SEO keywords that drive up traffic. 

Your blog posts and articles should aim to add value to people’s lives. Provide them with great advice and helpful tips that can set them in the right direction. This also sets you up to become an authority figure in the financial space which adds to your brand’s credibility. Add your own personal insights from your years of experience to make a more personal connection with your readers and visitors.

Consider creating a mailing list that provides exclusive content to be able to target higher quality leads. Newsletters with more in-depth insights allows people to see how much work you put into your financial analysis and strategy.

Add a Rating or Review System

Millennials put a high value on other people’s reviews of a product. You can add widgets that will allow people to ‘Like’ or rate your blog posts and FAQ pages. Add a comment section to your blog posts to encourage people to ask questions and engage with your brand.

You can also set up your Google My Business and Yelp pages since these sites’ listings also show up in search results. Some people are more comfortable leaving reviews on third party websites since they’re seen as impartial.

Add Self-Service Options

The millennial generation has grown accustomed to doing things on their own and solving things on their own. This means you should provide them with solutions to their problems right on your website. 

It could be something as simple as adding a FAQ or knowledge base section where you can answer the most common questions people ask you. Getting these preliminary questions out of the way saves both you and your prospect a lot of valuable time and effort. This also helps you target long-tail keywords and financial planning questions that people type into search engines. 

You can also empower potential clients by letting them schedule appointments online.This makes them feel like they’re in control, and enables them to choose the most convenient time slots. If you want to take it a step further, you can add financial calculators so that they can figure out simple financial planning issues for themselves.

Use Video Marketing

Millennials consume a lot of online video through social media and streaming sites. When it comes to marketing, videos are more engaging and easier to digest. They’re more effective at capturing people’s attention and keeping them interested in your message. 

If you want to make your brand really stand out, you should consider a video marketing strategy for your website. Add videos that showcase your company’s story and culture. This adds a more human aspect to your marketing. 

You can also add explainer videos to your website so that people who don’t have time to research can better understand their financial situation. Add client testimonials to earn people’s trust and show them what you can do for their financial future.

Final Thoughts

If you want to appeal to millennials and even younger generations, you have to keep up with the times. These population groups are not afraid of technology and often take pride in being early adopters. Businesses that are still stuck in the past just won’t be able to address their ever growing needs.

If you’d like to learn more about designing the best financial advisor website for your target market, give us a call or send us a message using the contact form below. 

Categories
Website Design

How to Make a Great First Impression With Your Financial Website

First impressions matter just as much in the digital world as it does in the real world. When you meet clients for the first time, you don’t want it to be the last. 

Just simply having a website and an online presence doesn’t guarantee that everyone who visits will become a new prospect. Website visitors can just as easily hit the back button and move on to the next search result if your site and branding don’t hit the right mark. 

You wouldn’t want to meet prospective clients in a shabby looking office while being dressed poorly and completely unprepared for a proper consultation. People just won’t be willing to listen if you don’t put up the right image, even if you’re the most talented financial advisor around.

The same goes for your website, which will be the first thing people will see and associate with your practice. 

Why First Impressions Online Matter

Foundation of Digital Marketing

Your website is the centerpiece of all your digital marketing efforts, so it should present your brand and your company in the best light possible. No matter how much you spend on increasing website traffic through organic SEO and PPC marketing, it will all go to waste if your website doesn’t inspire confidence in people.

Helps You Earn People’s Trust

You need to build relationships with people and give them confidence in your company in order to earn their trust and get their business. Your website is often the first point of contact for most people and provides that crucial first step in building a lasting relationship. A great first impression gives you a solid foundation that will allow you to easily nurture relationships with your future clients.

Helps You Stand Out From Competition

A positive first impression immediately gives you an advantage over your competitors. It makes your brand and your financial advisor practice more memorable and increases awareness for your brand. It keeps your company on top of people’s minds. The next time they need financial advice or if someone asks them to recommend a financial advisor, your name is more likely to come up. 

How to Ensure Your Website Makes a Strong First Impression

Studies have shown that it only takes an average of 2.6 seconds for people to find something on your site that will influence their impression. On average, people spend about 10 to 20 seconds skimming through a site before they finally decide to leave. This means you have to hook them in and clearly communicate your message in 10 seconds if you want them to spend a couple more minutes exploring your entire site. 

How do you make the most out of those few seconds? Let’s take a closer look at some proven strategies to catch people’s attention.

Have a Unique Design

It’s important to come up with a unique design that’s memorable. If your website has a generic design and doesn’t have anything else to help it stand out, then it will be very forgettable. You and your web designer need to come up with something that will make people pay attention right away. 

Use Inspiring Images 

The expression, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, may sound like a cliche, but images do help evoke thoughts and feelings that are difficult to put into words. 

Everything from your logo, background images, buttons, banners, to your headshots need to convey the right message. They need to be professionally done and have a good reason to be on your website. 

Every section of your website is valuable real estate. If your images and graphic design elements don’t align with your brand’s image, then you need to replace them with ones that do.

Use the Right Colors

The colors you use on your website will have a significant effect on people’s perception of your brand. For example, red is one of the most attention-grabbing colors and creates a sense of excitement. But it’s not generally recommended for websites for professional services. It can be used sporadically to call attention to certain design elements like call-to-action buttons.

Blue and green have a calming effect and are easier to process. Any of these two colors can be used as the main background colors for a financial website. Blue tends to represent competence and quality, while green can symbolize growth and money.

No matter what colors you choose, make sure there’s a good reason for them to be there. It shouldn’t be based on your personal preference. It’s about how your audience will react to the colors you use on your website. 

Be Consistent

Come up with a consistent style for your primary and secondary colors, as well as the fonts on your website. This helps strengthen your brand’s image, no matter what page someone ends up on. 

You should also use the same style with all your digital and printed marketing collateral. This means having a consistent look for your emails, social media pages, ads, business cards, and documents.

Above the Fold Content

In order to make the most out of the first few seconds that visitors will spend on your site, it should have great content above the fold. The fold is the bottom of whatever screen your page is being viewed on. Whatever the user sees when they first load your page is considered above the fold content. 

Most websites use a minimalist approach and simply have an attention-grabbing background image coupled with short but compelling copy. Any other important information they want to add to their homepage can be seen below the fold. Users are simply directed to scroll down to get more information. This technique allows you to slowly introduce new ideas one step at a time, and avoids confusing or overwhelming your site visitors too much.

Focus on the User Experience

Once you’ve managed to get a website visitor’s attention, you still need to make sure he spends as much time as possible on your site. Having a great website user interface to provide a smooth user experience lets people know that you care about what you’re doing. 

Make menus easy to use so that navigation will be a breeze. Be strategic with your button placement to make your call-to-action more effective. Everything should be easy to find and navigating should be intuitive. You want to ensure that visitors can easily get to the information they want and leave with a smile on their face. 

Provide Valuable Content

Once you’ve taken care of the design and visual aspects, you need to focus on your website copy and content. This is the reason people go to your website – to find out more about your company and your services. 

Describe your brand, yourself, and your services in a compelling manner so that people will have more reasons to contact you. Add useful content like an FAQ and a blog section. This will help answer people’s questions and allows you to display your expertise in the industry. 

Don’t settle for generic copy-pasted content. Come up with something original where you can add your own personal insights to a topic.

Don’t Try to Please Everybody

Trying to target a very broad audience is very difficult. Language and images that appeal to one demographic may turn off others. 

It’s better to identify your target audience and your niche first, then tailor your branding and web design specifically for them. 

One way to approach this is to target people in your city or state first. You’ll have first hand knowledge about their sensibilities and how they like to do business. They’re also more likely to go with someone who is local because that person will be easier to reach and are more likely to personalize their services.

Make Sure Your Website is Optimized

The technical aspects of your website are also just as important in creating a good impression on your target audience. All the work you put into designing the best website and filling it with awesome content means nothing if it takes too long to load or doesn’t even show up properly on different browsers and devices.

People are just as likely to visit your site using their smartphones as much as desktops and laptops. If your site doesn’t render properly on different screen sizes, it will have a negative effect on your brand. Make sure your pages load quickly so that people can see it in seconds even if they’re dealing with awful mobile connections.

Once someone has formed a first impression of your business, it’s very hard to change their minds. An audit or overhaul of your online presence can help you fight this uphill battle.

At AltaStreet, we have design professionals that understand the financial industry inside out. We will help you communicate your unique message to your clients to make a lasting first impression.

To learn more and find out why over 1,000 clients have trusted AltaStreet with their financial advisor website, you can contact Dan Stark, or send us a message through the contact form below.

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Marketing Website Design

Keys to Making a Successful Financial Advisor Website

If your current website is not delivering the results you expected, it might be time for a few updates. 

People’s tastes change. Search engines are always updating their algorithms. New design trends and tech are always popping up. More effective marketing strategies are constantly coming to light.

Your website is the foundation of your online presence so you need to be on top of all the latest design and tech trends if you want to stay ahead of the competition. 

Pinpointing Your Website’s Weaknesses

Creating a great website requires a good understanding of design, back-end development, and SEO – just to name a few. 

To quickly audit your website and compare it with industry benchmarks, we recommend trying out HubSpot’s Website Grader.

If your site is only scoring ‘OK’ or ‘Poorly’, take a closer look at each category score and find out which parameters need improvement. If you’re taking a big hit on Performance or SEO, then you need to take immediate action. These two directly affect your position on search engine results and your website’s overall user experience.

To improve your Performance rating you might need to upgrade your hosting package so that pages can load quicker. It might also require condensing and streamlining your website’s code.

If your IT person or web developer says that improving your site’s score is not possible, that’s a good indication that they require more training or that it’s time to look for a new web development team.

Of course, the Website Grader doesn’t tell the whole story. It looks for easily quantifiable technical aspects. It can’t measure the other aspects of your website that require creativity and marketing psychology. These are even more important to the success of your website.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these important website elements and how you can improve them.

Modern and Intuitive Design 

It takes more than just good design skills to make a positive impression on your website visitors. You also need to keep up with modern web design trends that are more effective at delivering the right message. 

Keeping up with the latest design trends also means you’re not going to be left behind by your competitors. People will see that you’re actively maintaining and managing your online storefront, which makes you look more respectable right off the bat.

Another important thing to remember when dealing with web design is that form should follow function. The main purpose of your design should be to make the site easier to use. Designing just for the sake of looking good won’t necessarily translate to a good user experience, which doesn’t help you in leaving a good impression on your target audience.

Intuitive design makes your website easy to use and makes all your content very accessible. All this helps increase the average time each visitor spends on your site.

Compelling Web Copy 

A website’s visual design is important, but at the end of the day, it just provides the background and setting for your content. Your web copy will be the hook that draws in new clients and prospects. 

Your homepage, about us, and services page should have great copy preferably written by someone who has lots of experience with sales and marketing. It should all be clear and to the point. Being too wordy makes the copy less interesting and just wastes valuable real estate. 

Compelling web copy should strategically use power words that evoke emotions and persuade people to take action. They should read more like headlines to better catch people’s attention, and provide as much information as possible in the fewest words possible. 

Content Strategy

In addition to impressive design and web copy, a good website should be filled with awesome content. This is how you can educate your visitors, and conversely, your content allows people to learn more about your brand. 

Your content strategy will be the foundation of your website’s inbound marketing. The most effective way to get new people to visit your website is by providing solutions to their questions and issues. 

Your content should be written and created with a purpose. Make a long list of keywords that you’d like to rank for and develop great content around each one. 

Old tactics like keyword stuffing are very outdated and won’t make a dent on your SEO performance. Search engines can discern whether your content is something people will find useful, or if it’s just designed to trick the system.

You also need to build up your site’s credibility by reaching out to other established sites and asking them to link to your site. When search engines see links to your site on a page with high authority, some of that credibility gets passed on to your website. 

Aside from written content, you can also develop infographics and create videos on your site. Adding different types of media makes your site more dynamic and engaging. 

Here are just some of the types of videos you might want to consider:

  • Explainer videos
  • Product videos
  • Testimonials
  • Brand story videos
  • Company culture videos
  • Promos and ads
  • Educational or how-to videos

 

Videos allow you to show the different sides of your company better than pages and pages of content.

Branding and Marketing Strategy

If you want to increase awareness for your brand and your website, you need to have a solid marketing strategy. You also need to be consistent with how you present your brand image so that people can easily identify who you are whenever they see your marketing efforts.

You can increase traffic to your site with email marketing and social media marketing. This allows you to publish updates to your mailing list subscribers and social media followers. This also gives you the opportunity to actively share your expertise with an audience who is already interested in your company, which further builds your credibility. When people get regular updates about your business, your brand will always be on top of their minds which can eventually lead to better conversions.

Social Media and Social Proof

Adding links to your social media pages on your website makes it easier for people to follow you on their preferred platforms. Social media is a powerful marketing tool that will allow you to actively engage with your target audience. It’s also a great way to earn people’s trust by way of social proof.

‘Social proof’ includes things like public reviews, forum discussions mentioning your company and staff, referrals on social media, “likes,” and followers. It demonstrates that you are trustworthy and helps your visitors form a more detailed impression of your company. 

For example, will a new customer clicking over to your Facebook page see that you and the team received thousands of ‘likes’ for raising money for a charity? Or will they see a stream of negative reviews aimed at your customer service department? It’s a powerful part of marketing that every business should actively manage.

Think of social media as an extension of your financial website. Think carefully about the brand and image which you wish to portray. If you get stuck, speak to a digital marketing expert who can adapt your branding over to your social media pages.

Be sure to moderate any comments on your profile pages, and keep your social media pages regularly updated so that there is always fresh content for users to consume. The last thing people want to see is a page that hasn’t been updated in months. It’s a poor reflection on your brand and makes your business look less successful. 

If you don’t have enough original content for your social media pages, you can simply repost content from your site, as well as repost industry-specific content from other pages and brands. 

As you can see, having a great financial website isn’t rocket science, but it does require some time, effort, and resources to get it right. Once the results start rolling in, in the form of new leads, customers, and sales, you’ll be glad you put in the time.

To give your financial website an overhaul and quickly put some distance between you and your competition, get in touch with a web design team that specializes in financial websites.

Learn how we have helped over 1,000 Companies in the Financial Space thrive. Contact Dan Stark at AltaStreet today.

Categories
Website Design

10 Things You Should Know Before Making a Financial Website

A good website is an essential marketing tool for any financial services business. It’s going to be the foundation for your online presence and all your digital marketing. 

It’s the first thing most people will see and associate with your brand, so you have to invest enough time, money and effort into its development to make sure your brand stands out. Otherwise, people might get the wrong impression and not give your business the chance it deserves.

Here are 10 things you need to consider first before you start developing your website.

Having a Step by Step Plan is Important

You’ll need to have a solid plan in place before anything else. Setting up a successful website requires a lot of experience. If you’re new at this, you can’t expect to get everything up and running over a weekend. 

Start with the basics first. Think about what you want to accomplish with your site and what features it should have. Pick out the most important ones first and make sure they’re executed properly. If you try to do everything at once, some aspects of your website will end up lacking in refinement. 

For example, if you want to add a blog, make sure you have enough available resources and time to create content for it. It’s better to not have a blog section at all if all you can come up with is poorly written content, or even worse, placeholder content that’s full of gibberish.

Come up With a Branding Strategy

Your website’s main purpose is to showcase your company and your brand. But if you don’t have a solid branding strategy that can define your visual identity and messaging, your website is just not going to be as effective at driving traffic and converting visitors into clients.

A financial website needs to convince people that they can trust the business and the people who are behind it. In order to do this effectively, your branding has to be on point and convey the right message that will evoke the right emotions. Without proper branding, your website will just end up being a random collection of images and text.

Great Web Design is Crucial 

Hiring a professional designer to create a custom website helps you stay on brand. It also ensures that the look of your website is truly unique which will make it stand out. 

A web designer will be able to add custom features and ensure that your website’s user interface is extremely intuitive to use. Aside from making your website look professional, they’ll also make sure your visitors will have a great user experience.

Don’t Rely on Free Hosting

Free web hosting comes with a lot of compromises that business websites can’t afford to have. They’re typically going to be slower and have more downtime than even the cheapest hosting providers. If anything goes wrong, you can’t expect much assistance or customer support from a free web host. 

Many free web hosts will also require you to place ads everywhere and you’ll have limited control over their placement. Having even just one ad on a website that offers professional services or goods looks very unprofessional.

Prioritize Website Security 

Security is extremely important, especially for a financial website. At the very least, your site should use an SSL certificate to make sure all website transactions are encrypted and secure. Without an SSL certificate, your visitors will first get a warning that your site is not using the HTTPS protocol and is not secure, which looks very suspicious to a potential client.

Have your web developer double check your website configurations and make sure back-end systems are updated regularly so that hackers cannot exploit vulnerabilities and steal your customer data.

Research Your Competitors

Find out what similar businesses in your space are doing when it comes to their online presence. This information will help you gauge how much work you need to put into your own website. 

You can also take notes from other successful websites outside of your space to get even more design and marketing ideas. Find out what makes them effective and how you can incorporate their ideas into your own website. 

Website Copy and a Proper Content Strategy is Essential

Your website copy is probably the most important part of your website. Web design just provides a nice backdrop and UI for navigation, but what will really draw customers in is your copy. 

A professional copywriter who has lots of experience in sales and marketing will be able to convey the right message and convince people to trust in your business. Great web copy doesn’t need a lot of words to fully explain your unique value proposition. Proper word choice is more important and impactful. 

You’ll also need to plan out a solid content strategy for your blogs and digital marketing content. Whatever content you publish should be well thought out and provide valuable information to your audience. Your content is a key part of your SEO and inbound marketing efforts, and is going to be responsible for drawing in new people to your site.

Set Up Your Social Media 

Before you launch your website, make sure you’ve already got all your social media pages up and running. Create business pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so that you can add social media buttons to your site upon launch. This will allow people to follow your brand on social media and get regular updates through their feeds. You can also use social media to grow your reach and increase brand awareness, and also drive more traffic to your site.

Half of Your Site Traffic Will be on Mobile

During the design phase, you should put a high priority on the mobile user experience. It’s much easier to adapt a mobile layout to desktop through responsive design than the other way around. A lot of your traffic will come from mobile users, so make sure your site caters to all their needs, as much as it does for people on desktops and laptops. 

Set Money Aside For Quality Photos and Images

While your web designer will take care of all of your website’s graphic design, they’ll still need high quality pictures from a stock photo service to fill up the pages of your site. Powerful images are inspiring and will help bring your message across. You’ll want to give your designers and marketing team the best choices possible and not limit them to generic royalty photos. 

You’ll also want to get professional headshots made, as well as get a professional photographer to capture your team at work. People are more willing to trust you if they can actually see your face, and you won’t end up just being another faceless company.

Final Thoughts

To make sure you can hit the ground running as soon as you launch your website, you’ll need a seasoned team of professionals by your side. Here at AltaStreet, we can make your dreams come to life. We can help you at every step starting from branding, web design, copywriting to marketing.

Categories
Marketing Website Design

Logo Design and Branding Guidelines for Financial Advisors

If you think having a great logo isn’t essential to the growth of your business — think again. 

Your logo is going to be the face of your company. When someone comes across your website, the first thing they’ll look at is your brand name and your logo. If it doesn’t leave a good impression on your target audience, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to change their initial impression. 

Financial brands rely heavily on building trust and gaining people’s confidence to get more clients. In order to be effective at attracting new clients, you need to portray an image of success and prosperity. A generic or amateurish looking logo simply won’t be able to convey the right message or deliver the right image for your brand. 

Your logo will also be visible on all your marketing collateral and business documents, so it has to be something you can proudly display and advertise. It’s an essential part of your marketing that helps build awareness for your brand.

With all this in mind, here are a couple of guidelines to help pick the right logo.

Your Logo Should Reflect Your Brand Image

The first thing to consider when coming up with a new design for a logo is your own brand image, as well as your company values and story. A logo is more effective if it properly embodies the brand image that you’re trying to project. 

It should also give the viewer a good idea of who your company is and what it stands for. This allows people to immediately identify who you are whenever they see your logo. Picking a random design will just end up confusing your target audience. 

Choose the Right Colors

A logo should look good whether it’s displayed with all its colors or in black and white. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use more than 3 colors for your logo. Usually, your logo’s colors will also be used for your brand’s primary color palette for all your other marketing collateral. 

You can be very particular when choosing shades but you have to remember to be consistent. Once you establish your signature colors, people will start associating those colors with your brand.

Lots of famous logos like Starbucks, Coca Cola, and Target use just one color. And they always make sure that anything that carries their visual identity also has their signature color.

Every color you choose will also have a corresponding psychological effect on the viewer. 

Here are just a couple of examples:

  • Red indicates excitement
  • Blue stands for dependability
  • Green can mean growth

 

Different shades can also evoke different emotions. It’s better to work with a designer and try out different combinations so you can see which one works best. Your branding and marketing goals should guide you when choosing a color palette, not your personal preferences.

Keep it Simple Yet Attractive

In most cases, a simple logo is much more impactful and iconic than a complex one. Simple doesn’t have to be basic or minimal, but it’s main design elements should stand out and be easily recognizable. Adding too much clutter will just dilute the idea that you’re trying to convey. 

If you take a look at a lot of iconic logos like Google, Amazon and FedEx, they actually just use special fonts along with some visual accents and signature colors. But all these logos are easily recognizable even from afar.

What matters more is the meaning of the visual elements you’ve chosen. As mentioned earlier, the design should be carefully chosen so that it reflects who you are as a brand.

Make it Unique

Whether you choose a simple or a more complex design for your logo, make sure it’s unique to your brand. Uniqueness makes your logo stand out and makes your brand easier to identify. 

A boring and generic design will just get lost in a sea of other logos and brand names. There’s also a good chance that your logo will end up looking similar to other company logos that you don’t want to be associated with.

Appeal to Your Target Audience

When you’re developing your logo, you also have to keep your target audience in mind. If you’re targeting a particular niche or persona, you need to make sure your audience will be able to identify with your logo. 

For example, a conservative or traditional audience might get turned off by abstract designs that are too modern or bold. However, a younger audience will find it hip and trendy. 

If you want to appeal to a broader audience, simpler designs will work best, but you have to make sure it’s easily relatable.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with many different designs. Get people’s opinions and see what works best. If you suddenly decide to scrap a logo and replace it with a completely new one, you’ll also be scrapping all the brand recognition you’ve built up with the old one. It’s better to just make small tweaks if you want to update your logo, so it’s best to get it right – or very close to right – from the very start.

Categories
Website Design

Benefits of Custom Web Design for Financial Advisors

Building a great looking website nowadays doesn’t necessarily require much technical expertise. With WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website building platforms such as Squarespace, Wix or Weebly, you can pretty much create a website in a couple of hours. You just need to pick a template, drag and drop the design elements you wish to use, add your website copy, and publish it on the web. 

So why should you pay a professional web designer if it really is that simple? Well, just like everything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true there must be a catch. 

Limited Website Features

Website building platforms have to make compromises to make their products easy-to-use. Websites that are built on these platforms come with a rather long list of limitations, compared to those that are built from scratch. 

If you’re just starting out, these simple websites may seem like the best option. But as your business grows, you’ll also need to update your online presence and add more features that these website building platforms simply don’t offer. 

Once you reach this point, you can’t just ask a web designer to copy your existing files over to a new site and customize it to your liking. They’ll have to redesign everything from scratch because the templates that website builders use are proprietary. 

In many cases, it will be much cheaper and easier for a developer to create a custom website from the ground up with all the features you want, rather than copy the template design over to a new framework. Your web developer will also be able to recommend essential features you might not even be aware of.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages a custom website has to offer.

Design Freedom

Obviously, when you hire a web developer, you have free reign to design your website exactly how you want it to look. They don’t have to code everything from scratch either. You can use an open source CMS platform (Content Management System), like WordPress (not WordPress.com), pick a premade theme, then have your developer customize it. They can still code anything you desire into the theme, which isn’t at all possible with a website builder template.

You Need a Unique and One-of-a-Kind Website

Even though a website made from a template may look great, there’s still a pretty good chance that it will end up closely resembling other websites that use the same template. And while these website builders may offer dozens, if not hundreds, of different templates, they all eventually start looking alike. 

If you want to keep up with your competitors, your website has to stand out. A professional web designer can not only help you come up with a unique website, but also make your brand more memorable.

Better Scalability and Flexibility

A custom website can be easily upgraded to adjust to your needs as you require them. Want to have a client portal where clients can log in to their accounts, or integrate third party services to your website? A competent developer can add new features to your existing site and find solutions to any problems that may arise. 

With a website building platform, you’ll be locked in to whatever features and pre-packaged services the company offers. This can severely hamper your growth especially if all your major competitors’ websites are able to serve their clients better using features you don’t have.

More SEO Friendly

Many SEO professionals will simply refuse to work with you if you’re using a website building platform. Compared to a custom website, they don’t have much freedom when it comes to editing or streamlining the code, changing scripts, or measuring SEO performance using their preferred tools. Simply put, optimizing a website that’s built on a page builder platform is going to take a lot more work and the end result will most likely be not as good.

Faster Performance

With a custom website, you can choose any web hosting provider you want. If you find that your site is loading pages too slowly, you can upgrade your plan or switch providers easily. You just need to move your data over to the new web host. This is not possible with a website building platform since the hosting is also provided by the company as part of a package.

You can also significantly improve your website performance simply by tweaking and optimizing its code. Obviously, this is not possible with a website that’s made using a proprietary template. In addition, most website builders incorporate a lot of unnecessary code that slows down pages that should be relatively simple. 

Better Security and Reliability

Security should be a top priority for a financial website especially if you store sensitive client data. Your reputation is at stake if it ever falls into the wrong hands. While website builder platforms typically have good security measures built-in, hackers can still exploit vulnerabilities on the entire platform that could potentially affect all the websites it manages.

With a custom website, you have full control over your cybersecurity. In case the site goes down, your developer can simply deploy a backup in no time at all. This immediately gets rid of any security problems and minimizes your potential for downtime.

No Need to Deal with Customer Support

If any problems come up or if you wish to make any changes to your site, all you have to do is contact your developer and tell him/her what you need. They can tell you upfront if what you’re proposing is feasible. 

With a website building platform, you’ll have to go through customer support and deal with a bunch of canned responses. At the very least, there will likely be a lot of back and forth before you find a suitable answer. 

If any issues come up, you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time looking for the right answer. In some cases, there might not even be an acceptable solution for your issue. You’re basically at the mercy of whatever the company is able to provide. 

Conclusion

Paying the extra cost for a custom financial website gives you a lot more options that website building platforms simply cannot offer. You’ll also have full control over your website and web hosting. As your business grows, you’ll be able to update your custom website easily without any limitations. You’ll be able to easily keep up with the market and your competitors and implement any changes whenever you want.

Categories
Website Design

When Is the Best Time to Redesign a Website

Most small business owners don’t even think about updating their website until something goes terribly wrong. 

A lot of people just treat their website like a digital business card and don’t really consider how much it impacts their digital marketing. To them, redesigning a website will seem like a frivolous exercise that will cost a lot of money. But if you haven’t realized yet how important your website is to your business, that may mean that it’s not really doing its job properly.

Most designers recommend revamping websites every 2 to 3 years. That might be a good idea if you want to keep your site looking fresh and modern. But to say it’s necessary would be an exaggeration. After the 5-year mark though, it may start looking dated as new design trends become more popular. 

These are all rough estimates though. If you want some clearer signs that your site needs to be updated, check out this list:

  • Site traffic is dropping
  • You’re having trouble ranking pages 
  • You’re not consistently generating leads
  • It looks dated and not as slick as your competitors’ sites
  • It doesn’t look great on smartphones and tablets
  • The site takes forever to load
  • Website security is an issue
  • You plan on revamping your brand image
  • Your branding and messaging has already changed considerably
  • Your business is changing direction
  • It was created using a website builder that’s hard to customize

 

If you pay a lot of attention to how your website performs, you can take the lessons you’ve learned from your existing website and use it to improve your next one. 

Your website is the foundation of your online presence and where all your digital marketing efforts will point to. If it doesn’t leave a good impression on your visitors and prospects, you’ll lose a lot of great business opportunities. This means you should always be looking for ways to improve it to maximize its potential.

You should also get as much feedback from different people as possible. Listen to what people are saying about your business and your site. Use the data from your analytics to better understand how people feel about your site. Ask your team members and business associates what they think about your site. 

If you’re still not sure whether or not you should update your site, let’s take a look at some key benefits a complete site overhaul can give you.

Improved SEO performance

A website redesign gives you the opportunity to implement all the SEO best practices you’ve learned so far all in one go. Search engines are always evolving and many of the SEO strategies you’re using on your current site are probably negatively affecting your search rankings if it hasn’t been updated in the last couple of years. 

With a redesigned website, you can:

  • Fix all the broken links 
  • Update all your metadata 
  • Get rid of low quality backlinks 
  • Optimize your content strategy using your top performing pages
  • Remove duplicate content
  • Improve the user interface
  • Optimize the URL structure
  • Integrate more third party SEO tools

 

You won’t have to settle for workarounds or incrementally improve SEO by implementing changes piece by piece. As long as you have a good site migration plan that prioritizes SEO, your rankings will only go up with a redesign. 

Faster Loading Times

Improving site speed is crucial if you want to deliver a great user experience. If you can deliver your content instantly even if your users are using spotty mobile Internet or older devices that can’t render pages quickly, you’re going to see an increase in the average time users spend on your site and lower bounce rates. All this affects your search rankings since search engines will see that your site is providing valuable information as more and more visitors stay on your site.

Aside from updating your website visuals, a redesign will allow you to streamline your code and get rid of unnecessary or buggy scripts and plugins that are bogging down your site’s performance.

Better Security

Websites that haven’t been updated in a long while and still use older frameworks and plugins are more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Hackers already know all the vulnerabilities of older technology and can easily exploit them whenever they want. 

When you update your website, you can build it up using the latest frameworks and web development best practices, or the latest version of your preferred CMS (Content Management System). You’ll also be able to get rid of outdated plugins and themes that are no longer supported, and are more vulnerable targets for hackers.

Get a Modern Look and Improve Your User Interface

For every slick, modern, and cutting edge website you find on the internet, there are hundreds of outdated sites that are ignored by both the owners and the general public. 

Technology moves quickly, particularly in the world of web design, and it’s important to be on top of modern design principles to keep your financial services site competitive. If you’ve grown to love your site’s current design, making you resistant to the idea of change, there are always ways to make it look more up to date while keeping the elements that you love. 

If your website looks like it was made more than a decade ago, people might get the impression that your business is not really a thriving success.

Even older people are becoming more tech savvy and can tell whether your website is up to date just by comparing it to the popular websites and apps they visit daily. Millennials and younger generations are even more sensitive to how good different software and digital platforms look and feel. So when it comes to your digital storefront, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance. You have to make sure you’re not inadvertently losing potential clients and customers just because it looks old and clunky.

Better Mobile Compatibility

Redesigning an outdated website to make it more mobile friendly will make a huge difference on its traffic and conversion rate. Let’s face it – most people spend more time looking at their phones than they do at each other. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile browsers, you’re missing out on a big chunk of business.

Even Google has switched to mobile-first indexing and prioritizes mobile-friendly pages for its search rankings.

If you’ve already made efforts in the past to make sure your website works well on mobile devices, its mobile user experience might still leave a lot to be desired. Adopting a mobile-first design philosophy will make sure your navigation and call-to-action buttons are very effective no matter whether your site is being viewed on mobile or desktops. In most cases, it’s much easier to scale up and adapt a mobile design for a larger screen, than doing it the other way around. 

Strengthens Your Brand Image

Your brand reflects who you are as a company. You might have a flashy logo, but how well thought out is the design of your website to reflect that? All too often, businesses give little thought to color schemes, the way the pages are structured and organized, and how important images and photographs are to their brand image.

A properly planned website redesign is more than just slapping on a new coat of paint. It’s a complete overhaul that will move your business closer to its goals. It shows your target audience that you’re constantly moving forward and that you care about the service that you provide. Most importantly, it also makes sure your brand is instantly recognizable and leaves a positive impression on whoever sees it.