Expert Interview with Maggie Crowley on Great Web Design for Financial Advisors

Great web designThe Internet is both a boon and a burden for businesses, no matter their size or industry. While it allows us more opportunities, connections, and the ability to compete with the majors, it also means that every individual now needs to master numerous disparate crafts.

Just because you're excellent financial advisors doesn't mean you're expert web designers, but you have to be both to stand out and excel in today's business climate.

Thankfully, there's Advisor Websites, who have been specializing in exquisite web design for financial advisors since 2002.

Advisor Websites's Maggie Crowley took a minute to tell us about the company, as well as some insights into what makes for a great website for a financial advisor.

Tell us a bit about Advisor Websites.

Since 2002, Advisor Websites has worked with financial service professionals to build outstanding, effective websites. The AW platform makes it easy for financial advisors to maintain a great-looking website that helps draw in new business.

Our homebase is in Vancouver, BC, which is where the company was founded and has grown rapidly over the past three years, tripling our team and client base. In 2009 we began service advisors across North America. Watching the company grow has been very exciting. We all know how quickly technology evolves, which makes our job both fun and challenging.

Who is your main clientele, and what are some ways that Advisor Websites meets their particular needs?

Advisor Websites works exclusively with financial and insurance professionals. As the most loved website vendor in the industry, we're passionate about three areas of our business:

  • A great-looking website you'll love.
  • Exceptional, unlimited service and a dedicated, *awesome* support team.
  • Building websites that are compliant and results-driven.

What are some aspects of a financial advisor's website that are particular to the industry?

  • A great biography
  • Imagery (avoid stock photos!)
  • Adding value to web visitors through content

Advisor Websites partner with the best digital marketing firms to ensure that the company is generating true leads. What are some marketing tactics that can be particularly effective for conversion?

Converting website traffic into leads starts in the design phase, making the experience for users really easy to find and access the information they came for.

  • Great, compelling CTAs
  • Fluid landing pages/forms that ask the right questions

Being a good financial advisor involves subjective, personal qualities like honesty, dependability, loyalty, and innovation, with a business mindset. What are some ways a financial advisor's website can be used to emphasize these qualities without coming right out and saying it?

According to this article from Smashing Magazine, many researchers and institutions have questioned what factors influence how web users perceive a site's credibility. Of the research that's been performed, there are a few elements we all agree are important:

  • Layout and design
  • Consistency
  • Typography
  • Color
  • Frequency of updates

Long story short, web visitors are shallow and distracted (often by hundreds of other websites). According to most research performed to date, web users definitely judge a book by its cover, forming their own ideas about your firm based on the quality of the design.

Other parts of your website that affect a visitor's perception:

  • A great, personal bio
  • Professional team photography (try to avoid using stock photographs!)
  • Tell your story and speak to the right group

What are some examples of the best web design for financial advisors you've seen? What makes them so good?

http://www.harvestwealthadvisors.net/ - tells the firm's story and has a strong CTA
http://www.pepsecurities.com/ - has a strong CTA, great team layout and photography
http://www.tushinghamwealth.com/ - clear navigation and great messaging

As the Internet continues to become more and more integrated into our daily lives, how important will excellent web design be for standing out and portraying the image you want?

Today, visitors create a first impression (good or bad) within four seconds of viewing our website. Financial advisors depend on being perceived as trustworthy and credible - if your website can't back that up (quickly), it's a problem that will only grow with time.

The reason why this is important for advisors is not merely that first impressions of a website are formed quickly and, as a result, influence the behaviors and decisions of potential prospects. It's important because it means the first impressions are essentially formed before anyone reads a single word of content actually written on the site!

And the impression your website leaves matters because for more and more clients, the website really is the prospective client's true first impression in a world where it is almost automatic to check out the website of someone you're referred to before ever giving them a call or meeting with them.

You have a library for resources on your website. What are a few of your personal favorite resources for web design, either online or off, and why?

Great question :)

One of my favorite resources is our ebook, Driving Traffic to Your Website. Even the best-looking, most user-friendly websites aren't really that great unless people actually use them. In this ebook, we explain five actionable ways to drive the right traffic to your website.

Another one of my favorite tools is our editorial calendar template. I'm a big believer in the power of blogging. It's a cheap and fairly easy way to build credibility (and increase SEO) online. One of my favorite tools is our blog editorial calendar template. This is a really simple way to schedule and organize blog ideas and deliverables. We use the editorial calendar every day.

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