Several months ago we wrote a post with some common questions financial advisors should consider when they decide to create or redesign their website and digital presence. A much appreciated post from Michael Kitces offered some thought provoking suggestions, and we felt we should complement it with a thoughtful response.
If you’re thinking about creating a new website or giving your current website a much-needed update, there are a few questions you should answer before moving forward.
1. What’s your budget?
Custom websites that meets the latest standards of design and accessibility can have a costly price tag associated with them.
Additionally, adding a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to update content on your own can increase that price even more. A custom brochure website built on WordPress will cost on average between $4,000 – $12,000 for professional design and development. In addition to this high price tag, is that it does not include hosting and ongoing maintenance. While shared hosting can cost roughly $10-$20 per month alone, you will also need to have someone to keep your website running smoothly and keep the WordPress platform up-to-date to avoid security vulnerabilities which are very common with the platform. While you might think this is a worthwhile investment, what a lot of clients overlook is that the average lifespan of a website is 2-5 years. Technology shifts at a rapid pace and you need to stay on top of it, even if your brand or business model doesn’t.
On the flip side, if you choose to go for a low-cost platform you may be stuck with the standard template, stock imagery, or farmed content for your site. Often times, these solutions do little to engage current and potential clients and require that you sign a long-term contract.
We specifically created Twenty Over Ten to introduce great design and accessibility into this industry with a low-risk, affordable up-front cost (and no contracts). Our platform is the most comprehensive, allowing you (or us) to tailor your design, content, and structure to meet your specific voice and offerings.
In addition, it’s easy to integrate third party services you may already be using. Our initial prices are affordable, and our ongoing costs cover your hosting, website archiving for compliance, access to your personal dashboard 24/7, and gives you unlimited customer support.
2. Can you update your website on the fly without paying a webmaster or relying on a third party designer?
Do you want to have full control over your website? Or do you want to hand off all the work to a designer/developer?
Keep in mind that if you don’t mind handing off the work, you’ll generally have to wait for the work to be done unless you hired your own full-time designer / developer. The waiting time can vary, depending on the workload and general responsiveness of your contractor. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that any webmaster is aware of strict guidelines within the financial industry and ensure you are playing in-bounds.
Ideally, you should have access to easily edit, create through a Content Management System (CMS), and manage your website content without diving into the code. Not all users have the same comfort level with technology, but the basic CMS functions of creating/editing/publishing content and adding media are easy for everyone to grasp. There’s a very small learning curve for even the most novice users.
At Twenty Over Ten, our platform allows advisors to easily update and manage content without touching code. In fact we’re introducing some great new functionality to make it even easier to do so. Included are some incredible (and very necessary) features for the modern advisor:
New Inline-Editor – The Twenty Over Ten platform will feature the most modern, in-page editor further simplifying content management for all users. Simply click and type, no more guessing how your content will look.
Expanded Blogging Capabilities – Twenty Over Ten will roll out the most comprehensive blogging tool for financial advisors allowing users to create multiple blogs in a single website, update and categorize posts for searchability, and control social sharing capabilities.
Unlimited Landing Pages– Users will be able to create unlimited landing pages that can be customized to niche markets, enhance lead generation, or further engage current clients.
New SEO Tools – All Twenty Over Ten websites meet the highest w3 standards and are completely mobile-responsive. New SEO Tools will be available, including meta-data for all pages (blog posts included), customizable URLs for pages and posts, image alt tags, and more.
3. Do you have a support system in case of emergencies or questions?
It’s murphy’s law. Many financial advisors aren’t well versed in the intricacies of HTML, web design, and DNS setup to manage their website.
Operating a website can be very administrative. Things such as configuring your hosting services, monitoring it, updating your platform (such as WordPress updates that are issued from time to time), ensuring the updates won’t conflict with your template and plugins, etc.
While we appreciate the capabilities of other platforms, such as WordPress, there is a reason we decided to build our own. The Security Vulnerabilities for WP are very well known. One of big downsides to using WordPress is that because it is so popular, it is targeted by hackers and malicious code creators for the purposes of distributing malware and viruses.
Be sure you have a support system in place to access or contact in the event you’re having troubles with your website.
Twenty Over Ten provides unlimited support to our users. Through our support channel, users can find articles, tutorials, and videos about common questions or concerns. Additionally, our users have immediate access to our support team and designers for questions and emergencies.
4. Are you prepared in case of a compliance audit?
There are plenty of compliance landmines when it comes to your marketing content (including your website content). As a financial professional you are responsible for all of your marketing materials (this includes digital marketing and websites too). There are a number of restrictions that help guide what you can and can’t say as a financial advisor to protect both you and your clients.
In instances where compliance will want to review your marketing materials, you will need immediate access to every change made to your website. Be sure these records are kept, organized, and stored for the future in case of an audit.
Twenty Over Ten archives each website update, no matter how small, that you or someone in your firm pushes live to the web. You will have access multiple versions of your website archive, including a permanent, private, versioned URL of your website. With updates in new technologies and the rise of mobile media a simple screenshot simply is not enough.
5. Who owns your website?
What if you want to move your website? Migrating your website is not a simple drag-n-drop process, even if you use WordPress. Like moving in real life, there is a lot of prep work that must take place and “packing” to ensure nothing is lost in translation. And just like moving in real life, the process can be painful and frustrating at times.
At Twenty Over Ten you own your website content, as well as your domains. All Twenty Over Ten customers continue to own their own domain (and can manage their DNS accordingly). If at any point you choose to go elsewhere, you may do so without requiring to register a new domain or have to go through the tedious transfer process. You will always have complete control over where you choose to register your domains.
However, by leaving Twenty Over Ten you do lose two important functions, specifically: 1. Access to your CMS to make updates, 2. The ability to archive your changes through our dashboard. It’s important to note that our platform is able to provide these tools by having a system that is monitored and controlled. Unlike WordPress where the core CMS needs to managed by you, the user, we monitor and update our platform so your website is always secure. If you do choose to move your website elsewhere, users can download the static website files and necessary assets (CSS & JS) if they choose.
Ready to establish yourself online?
Whether it’s to define your niche, generate better leads, inform and update your audience with insights and updates, give portal access to your current clients, or all of the above, we can help.
Call or Email us – we’re happy to discuss your quesitons and how we can help.