10 Steps To Creating A Great Website

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A good starting point for every website project is to register your domain names, as well as your social channel names. Make sure your URLs and social channel usernames are concise. Use tools such as Namechk to check social channels while Gandi.net can also show you domain name availability and costs.

2. Take stock of your assets and organise your sitemap

The sitemap is your guide to how your website will be structured once it is finished. Group sections logically, and do not overwhelm your users with too many sections and pages.

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If you have an existing website, use the sitemap to see what pages you have already and the content available. Look at the other marketing materials you have and see if the content matches what you want on the new website.

Imagery is important - as the old adage has it, a picture tells a thousand words. For the financial services sector, stock images of handshakes, smiling couples and families and tickboxes are overused and clichéd - and cheapen the look of your website.

Use bespoke imagery wherever possible to raise your website profile. If you are using stock libraries then carefully select your images so they do not appear cheesy.

'Best Adviser Website' is one of the categories for the 2018 Professional Adviser Awards. Find out how to enter here

3. Consider your user experience and navigation

User experience - ‘UX' for short - is a key impression factor for your website. A well thought out website will last long in the memory. A poor UX will frustrate users and turn them off so ask people to review your site as it is and visit competitor websites to see what you like or dislike about them.

If you are redeveloping an existing site, use analytics software to understand your website traffic - the areas users are landing on and where they go from those landing pages. This should form the basis for navigating through your new site.

Key point: Financial advice is obviously a personal service, relying on people and relationships. As such, ensure your telephone number is prominent - especially on a mobile device. The number should be on the homepage header and coded as a ‘click to call' button to make it easy for users to do just that.

4. Find a reputable full-service agency

One of the biggest headaches and failing points of a website project is when you have a web developer on one side and a creative team on the other and then trying to manage them both to deliver a complex project.

Use a full-service agency - one where both the creative team and web developers are in-house and under one roof. This way, when planning the website, the designers will know the vision of the developers and, likewise, web developers can inform the designers whether something is achievable or not in the way it will be coded. An agency that also has a good understanding of digital marketing will help you ensure your website is visible across the web once launched.

5. Insist upon a user-friendly CMS - and, if possible, tie in a CRM system

An intuitive CMS (content management system) is crucial for the sustainability of your website. A user-friendly CMS will allow you to build new landing pages, edit your website content and build forms for data capturing internally without the need to re-instruct your agency and incur costs.

Tracking your leads and clients meanwhile can be achieved by integrating a CRM (customer relationship management) system. These can be expensive to maintain in costs and resources, however, so do tread carefully.

6. Always work in wireframes first

All too often websites become much harder than they should be because we are too caught up with the ‘visuals' - that is, form versus function. To avoid this situation, use wireframes before starting the creative. Wireframes display only the functional elements of the webpages, so you can plan where your buttons, content and images go from a usability perspective without being led by the visual side.

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7. Visualise your website

Once the wireframes have been agreed, designers will need to apply visuals and branding. These are often known as ‘website flats'. This stage is so that, when the web developers start coding the site, they know how and where things sit on the page, and what the pages will look like.

8. Don't worry unduly about coding

There is no need to worry your cotton socks here - a team of highly-trained monkeys will smash away at keyboards tirelessly all day and night until the website is magically created.

9. Populate and test, test, test!

Once you have designed and built the website infrastructure, it is time to populate it with content and -  crucially - to test it. As websites should be built responsively - in other words, adapting to the screen size they are viewed on - testing will ensure your website as good as it can be on all devices. According to Adobe, almost two-fifths (38%) of people will stop engaging with a website if the content and/or layout is unattractive.

Of course, there are many browsers and screen sizes now, so browser testing no longer means attempting to make a website look the same in browsers of different capabilities or on devices with different size screens. It does, however, mean ensuring a person's experience of a design should be appropriate to the capabilities of a browser or device.

Key point: Make sure the test you use is compliant. If you are part of a financial services network, run your text past the compliance team. If you are directly authorised, then there will be many private firms who can check for you.

10. Keep on top of content refinement and promotion

Once you are happy your site is working correctly across all common browsers and devices, you are ready to launch - but the journey does not stop there.

Your website is an evolving organism - it needs to be constantly updated with new content to help improve your search engine rankings. To improve your search engine optimization or ‘SEO', your website not only needs to be optimised for your keywords so Google can crawl it and index it accordingly, it also requires authoritive backlinks (links to your website from other websites) to show credibility in the eyes of Google. These can be achieved by the creation and effective promotion of good-quality content on your website.

Google will also rank you via citations (how you are referenced across the internet). So, if you are known as John Smith Wealth Management, make sure you are cited as such and not, for example, John Smith Financial Management. Otherwise, Google will penalise your ranking.

Lastly, don't forget to promote your website. Use digital marketing, email marketing, social media and offline promotion to attract and encourage more traffic to your website - after all it looks awesome!

This article was written by Jask Creative, an experienced full service creative marketing agency based in Solihull. Jask Creative provides a comprehensive range of marketing and communication services including branding, graphic design, web development, digital marketing and print management

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Source : https://www.professionaladviser.com/professional-adviser/opinion/3015485/10-steps-to-creating-a-great-financial-services-website

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