Is your financial firm in need of a new website in 2022?
Given the pace of technological change, this can be a timely and worthwhile project to embark on. Yet what should your project include? What bases need to be covered, and what goals should it achieve?
In this guide, our website design team at CreativeAdviser offers a round-up of some of the key areas you should consider. Please contact us if you’d like more information or to discuss your own project with us.
Almost all web browsers now warn users if a website they are visiting is “not secure” – i.e. it does not have a valid SSL certification.
In Google Chrome, for instance, a “secure” website is often indicated by a green padlock at the beginning of the website address. In all cases, the prefix should be “https” rather than “http” – to indicate the Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) protocol.
If your financial website does not already have SSL, make sure you include it in your website redesign in 2022 so users (and browsers) are more likely to trust your website.
Your content management system (CMS) is the part of your website where you can log in and add content such as blogs. Popular CMS options for financial firms include Wix, Joomla and WordPress (our preference here at CreativeAdviser).
No CMS remains static however. Developers in the background make improvements to security, functionality and other areas to improve the service quality. However, updates are not always automatic. You often need to make them yourself.
This is because updates can “break” your financial website, if you are not careful. Therefore, whilst you should consider updating your CMS in 2022, make sure you do this in partnership with an experienced website design agency.
Before making any major changes to your website, it is a good idea to have an up-to-date backup in a secure online storage space.
This provides a “last resort fallback option” if things go tragically wrong with your website – e.g. a redesign goes wrong, or your website gets hacked. A backup can also help you re-trace your steps to find where a problem occurred, so you can fix it.
Your CDN (content delivery network) is the system that allows you to distribute your website content more quickly to users around the world – granting them files from a nearby “website storage” area. In 2022, consider checking that it is configured correctly.
This is a very important file on most financial firms’ websites. It essentially “tells” search engines like Google which pages on the website are important – i.e. worthy of “ranking” – and which should be ignored, such as blog category pages.
Problems can occur, however, if this file is not set up properly. In bad cases, this can result in a website not getting noticed by Google at all – resulting in little/no organic traffic. Make sure you check this with an experienced developer, in light of your sitemap.
Resolve site versions
Sometimes, financial firms have multiple “versions” of the same website on the internet. Perhaps that most common example of this is when a business has an “http” version of their website and an “https” version.
Whilst no single variant is more important or “correct” than others (at the time of writing), it is helpful to have your various channels and digital tools pointing towards just one of them.
This helps keep your main website address clear to prospects, clients and also to Google.
Check meta information
Do each of your pages and posts on your financial website have a complete, appropriate “meta description” and “meta title”?
Sometimes, your CMS will generate these automatically for you when you publish a piece on your website. However, these are not always set up optimally for your SEO (search engine optimisation) and can even be missed.
As such, consider taking time to review your meta profile in 2022 – filling in gaps, and strengthening weak areas.
Does any page on your financial website contain one or more hyperlinks to a non-existent (or irrelevant/poor-quality) page?
Since online content “moves around” a lot – e.g. due to other website owners changing the URLs of their articles – it is a good idea to check the quality of your internal and external links on a regular basis, regardless of whether you intend to re-design your website.
Remember, broken links not only potentially harm your SEO, they send a bad signal to your website visitors.
Whilst we’re on this topic, make sure any redirects on your own website are configured properly in 2022. For instance, if you published a blog post a year ago, took it down and re-published it with a new URL, make sure that anyone who tries to visit the old post is automatically diverted to the new one.
To this point, we have mostly covered the “technical” aspects of a website re-design for financial firms. Yet the imagery and overall visual identity of the website are also very important.
Take time to review the images on your website. Do they help to create a consistent brand and do they convey a sense of quality? Do they stand out as “original” or do they fall into clichés within your industry?
Another important aspect to consider is your image file sizes. Bear in mind that overly-large files can slow down your website loading speed for visitors, creating a poor user experience and hurting your SEO.
Also, remember to include “alt tags” on any images included in your financial website. These provide a description of the visual to any blind visitors who consume your content, and they help communicate the nature of the image to Google – helping your SEO.