Today in 2021, it is possible for independent financial advisers to create their own website (e.g. using a service like Wix or Google Sites). For some – perhaps those in a hurry and on a tight budget – this may be a reasonable place to start.
However, eventually, most IFAs come up against a wall. The financial website does not convey the look, feel and quality you want. The functionality leaves a lot to be desired, and perhaps the mobile responsiveness of the pages do not work very well.
For some IFAs, this is the stage where they might tentatively approach website design agencies and freelancers – with a focus, again, on project cost and speed. Again, in our experience, the typical result of this is that the end result is limited (inevitable, due to low investment) – leading to the financial adviser to consider another project, perhaps 6-12 months later.
Here at CreativeAdviser, we believe that financial website design cannot be rushed. Similar to a physical building project, careful planning needs to go into the structure before the mortar even touches the bricks. Once the architect’s design is approved, moreover, the builders must be given the time and budget they need to allow the project to succeed.
There are key people involved throughout this entire process – architects, project managers, on-site managers and construction works (to name a handful). It would be ambitious, to say the least, for any one of them to think they could do the entire project alone. Perhaps with sufficient experience, one of them might build something smaller – such as a house. For a large project like building a school or an office, however, you need a solid team working together.
Financial websites, after a certain point, move beyond the “house-type” project and into something bigger. Similarly, therefore, it becomes impossible to cut corners or take a DIY approach. You need the right people working on it, who can coordinate their efforts and deliver the right results – within budget, and on time.
So, who are the “key people” involved in a project like this? In our experience, there are at least three for IFA websites.
Graphic Designer & Brand Specialist
Before you can start putting the pieces of a website together, you need a vision and blueprint of what it should look like. What should fill the user’s screen as they arrive on the homepage for the first time? What kind of imagery would work best, and how might the layout flow further down the page?
These decisions, however, cannot be made in isolation. There’s a deeper level of questioning which needs to go on first – about your financial brand. After all, how can you know which imagery might be best for the homepage if you have no clear idea of your brand values? Moreover, without a firm grasp of your brand character/personality, how could you discern the most authentic and appropriate colour scheme and font pairings?
Of course, you could just skip this deeper step and ask a website designer to “just find some nice images” to fill out the pages. Yet this approach typically results in an image set which is disjointed and cliched (e.g. pictures of a man in field, with hands outstretched towards the sun!). At CreativeAdviser, therefore, we always start with examining an IFA’s brand before committing to a website design project.
Perhaps the IFA already has a strong brand and visual identity. In which case, the graphic designer’s main role will be making sure the logo, fonts, colours and imagery are updated to provide something fresh within the existing brand guidelines. If the brand is lacking, then the visual identity will need to be developed first to make sure the website design rests on a strong brand.
Website Designer (& Developer)
With your main brand assets now assembled, the website designer can commence work on the wireframe for an IFA’s new website (i.e. the overall “map” of pages and a broad sketch of their layouts). After this, the designer can then work specifically on the homepage.
At CreativeAdviser, this stage typically starts with sending some concepts over to the client for review – via PDF. Once the overall design approach is approved (perhaps after some design revisions/rounds), the designer can then start building the homepage on a server.
After a while, this homepage can be shown to the client as a “demo” homepage – allowing them to play around with it and give more feedback. From there, other important pages such as the About Us and Services can be worked on in a similar fashion.
Of course, at this point, a lot of development work will be going on too – ensuring that code loads correctly, that buttons take users to the right locations and that top-level website security is put in place.
Marketing & Copywriting Specialist
Website design isn’t just about visuals and mechanics, however. It’s also about messaging. This means making sure that the copy and content of the website set the right tone, lead with value and connect meaningfully with the target audience.
For IFAs, this is where a specialist agency can be helpful. After all, many creative agencies simply do not understand the jargon, clients and compliance of the financial advice sector. This means that IFAs often end up funding a learning curve in their project, which isn’t fair.
Here at CreativeAdviser, this isn’t an issue because our team specialises in the sector. Our writers can take the brand in question and help produce the right copy for the website’s audience. As marketing strategists too, we can also help ensure that your new website integrates into an effective plan which uses it to reach new clients in the future.
Interested in a project like this for your own website? Get in touch to arrange a free, no-commitment consultation with our team.