When you think about financial advisor websites, it’s easy to think that a striking, unusual but beautiful design is the most important component of success. After all, we humans are visual creatures. And look at the big brand names; they all have beautifully designed websites with many cool features that make them different.
So many people assume that if you build a creative, beautiful website that looks different, you’ll experience more online success.
For some industries, where creativity and aesthetics are key, that may be true. But not if you’re a financial advisor.
In fact, the more you innovate, the more your unique design may actually work against you.
Why would that be? Well, those beautiful innovative sites can work fantastically well if you’re selling blenders, or watches, or cars. Those dazzling effects can often spark interest.
But when prospective clients are looking for someone to handle their money, they aren’t looking to be dazzled or surprised. They are looking to be safe.
What’s wrong with unusual websites?
Unless you’re a large brand with an extensive advertising budget that has built your firm’s name, an unusual website can often work against you.
Yes, there are some cool-looking websites created by financial advisors that are different. Some very well may be a smashing success. But you can’t count on that. Yes, these websites are often beautiful. But to most potential clients with money to invest, nothing is more beautiful than safety and security. They want a firm they can count on. They don’t want risk; they want security.
The one exception is if your target is younger people with fewer assets. They might be happy to work with a firm that’s a little edgier, since there’s less at stake. But generally speaking, the more someone has to invest, the less they’re going to trust a firm with an unorthodox website.
Even worse: creative navigation
Compounding that, often these beautiful, creative websites have unusual navigation. So visitors have to hunt around for the menu options, and it becomes difficult to find what they are looking for.
Again, if you were selling makeup or electric guitars, that might not be a problem. But with financial services, people need to do their due diligence. They want to be able to quickly find out about you: what you can do for them, what your qualifications are, etc. If your information isn’t easy to find, they will usually get frustrated and leave.
Make things easy for your website visitors
If you’re Apple or Netflix, you can afford unusual design, as people will be motivated to look around and find what they need. But for financial advisors without name recognition, you should have a different goal: make learning about your firm as easy and painless as possible.
How do you do that? Here are a few ways to start.
1. Use clear, common navigation.
Avoid those creative menus. Instead, aim to simply fit in and give your visitors exactly what they expect. Use menu options listed across the top, where most websites place them. Then use simple, specific words that are pretty much bulletproof when it comes to interpretation:
- About Us (or Who We Are)
- What We Do
- Who We Help (or Our Clients)
By making things easy for your website visitor, your firm will seem easier to work with. Build on that.
2. Include a “Why We’re Different” or “Why Choose Us?” page.
Many financial advisor websites look alike. Prospects may look at several in their area and wonder, why should I hire any of these firms?
Don’t make the clients figure out that answer; tell them! Include a “Why Choose Us” page that distinguishes you from your competitors. Include information about what you will do for them: what benefits will they get from using your services? Will you help them feel organized and in control of their financial life? Do you specialize in estate planning so they can pass on their wealth in a tax-efficient way? Do you help them find tax-saving opportunities? Put it in the terms that will connect with someone looking for help. This approach will also help you attract clients whose needs best fit your services, and filter out the ones who are looking for something else entirely, saving everyone time.
Best of all, by explaining what they can expect from you in plain English without technical jargon, you’ll seem easy to work with and approachable.
3. Create emotionally engaging website copy that describes how you can help clients.
Some industries do best with minimalistic copy on their sites, where less is more. The financial advice industry is not one of them. Anyone with significant money to invest with you will likely happily read more before hiring you. So this is where you should put your effort: getting your message across effectively.
But try to avoid technical discussion on your website. Instead, focus on addressing your prospect’s “pain points.” With money, there’s no lack of those. Whether it’s feeling disorganized, feeling unsure if they are invested right, coping with volatile markets, or worrying about their ability to sustain their lifestyle in retirement, write about how your services help alleviate those concerns.
4. Beware of features that may hide critical information.
There are a lot of eye-catching features to choose from when you’re designing a website. But eye-catching, unfortunately, can get in the way of your prospect finding out what they want to know about you.
One very common example in the financial advice industry is the carousel on the front page, which shifts every few seconds. It may look cool, but it can frustrating to website visitors. They may have difficulty reading one item before it slides off the screen, or they may ignore it altogether, assuming it’s an ad.
Other features can seem helpful but may require a visitor to do something like click on a tab to see more information. That’s not usually good unless the information is less critical; why create a barrier between your prospect and the information they came for? Keep this in mind when selecting features to include on your website.
The take-home message
Unless you’re a firm that has built substantial name recognition, the onus is on your website to communicate the benefits you offer fast and effectively. If it doesn’t, your visitor will often leave and move on to their next option.
But present everything in an easy-to-navigate, predictable, informative format, and your website is set up to work smoothly for prospective clients. And when it works for prospective clients, it works for you.