Have you ever visited a website and noticed that the logo looked like it was “plopped on” to the page, without being “designed” to look like it was actually a part of the site? If you answered “yes”, then you were most likely looking at a website built on a template.
Whether you are redesigning your website or starting fresh, it’s important to first do some research to determine what design option will best align with your business needs. Perhaps one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is if you prefer a framework or a template-based website. Both options are available and have their pros and cons. Read on to figure out which choice may be the best option for you and your financial planning firm!
How Are Frameworks Different From Template-Based Websites?
The difference between these two approaches to website design does not come naturally and it can be hard to parse through the differences between the two. But we’re here to help! To start, it’s important to first understand the differences between the two most popular website options (frameworks and templates) before deciding which provider or designer to work with.
The Template-Based Website
Generally speaking, template-based websites will provide just that – a template for how your site layout will look and function. The general layout of the template cannot be changed – it is what it is. For instance, if you were to choose a template that has three boxes below the hero image on the home page, then you’ll need to come up with content for each of those three boxes. So, let’s say your template had those three boxes on the home page, yet you only wanted to feature two of your core services – financial planning and investment management. If you were using a template-based website that came pre-formatted with those three boxes, your choice would be to either choose a new template or come up with content for that third box.
On the flip side, let’s say you choose a template that has two boxes on the homepage, which work perfectly with your two offerings – financial planning and investment management. But then, a year later, you hire a CPA and decide to start offering tax preparation and tax strategies as well, so you want to add a third box to the homepage to feature that new service. Well, with the templated website, you are out of luck. Your template cannot be changed to add a third box to the homepage, so again, you’d either need to switch templates (meaning a complete website redesign) or figure out a way to make do with the two boxes you already have.
In general, templated sites are more static by nature (for the reasons outlined in the above example – they are hard to update). So if you should want to remove a column, or add in new photos or text boxes, it would not be possible on a templated site – the template is not changeable. You usually can customize your colors and add your logo to a template, but you cannot fundamentally change the layout of the page. Templates are more focused on pre-determined functionality and output.
Framework-based sites, on the other hand, are much more customizable. You can add or remove columns, boxes, forms, sidebars, color boxes, etc to best fit your brand and the look and functionality that your company needs to best showcase your services. In the example above, if you were using a framework website instead of a templated website, you would be able to add or remove a box to best fit the content that you want to showcase. Frameworks give you a lot more freedom to get creative with your advisory firm’s website. In a sense, frameworks are a collection of tools or libraries, giving you unlimited abilities to add items, such as call-outs, call-to-actions, videos, images, whatever fits your style and will work best for your brand.
Think of it this way: a template is like a paint-by-numbers and a framework is more like a LEGO set.
While both templates and frameworks can be used as-is “out of the box”, a framework is a modular approach that allows you easily add or remove different components to your website. This might include: where images are located, where forms reside on the site, adding video, adding images, etc. Frameworks provide a much higher degree of design freedom with a wider range of functionality and possibilities.
Should You Use a Framework or a Template for Your Advisor Website?
Great question! Now that we understand the difference between the two let’s talk about why this decision is so crucial. For the most part, templates are going to be much more limited in either their included functionality and/or design flexibility as compared to a framework.
So when choosing which route is best for you and your financial planning firm you should ask yourself: how do I plan to engage with my site long-term?
Do you view your website as a living, breathing thing that will be an ongoing adaption for your business? Is it important to you that you not only have access to your site but that you can easily change certain bits of design and functionality?
If you answered yes to the questions above then a framework-based website will likely be the best option for you.
Are you looking for a quick-fix website to be thrown up pronto? Are you open to having a more cookie-cutter looking website that other advisors may be using as well?
If you answered yes to the above then a template-based website will most likely be the best option for you.
Framework Website Options for Financial Advisors
When you work with Twenty Over Ten, you get the chance to connect with designers that truly love what they do, who will help you customize a framework to best match your brand and display the content that gets your message across. We work with several framework options, and we don’t limit our clients with template-based websites. Our platform allows advisors to easily build unique, beautiful, compliant websites themselves or work with our team of seasoned designers. So, what are some of the framework options that we use?
All of our frameworks are created with a mobile-first approach. So, whichever framework you do pick, it will look great on every device that it’s viewed on from, whether a tablet, mobile phone, or computer. Our frameworks are completely customizable, and in addition, all of our frameworks come pre-loaded with a robust, built-in blogging platform so you can create, edit and share updates with site visitors as often as you’d like. You know the importance of using blogging to draw people into your site, so this is something that we are really proud of, and feel that it is so important to incorporate on your site! So, without further ado, here are the frameworks offered at Twenty Over Ten:
Our Fresnel framework is a great option if you want a large homepage image on your website. It’s bold and draws the visitor in immediately upon reaching the site. It’s perfect for featuring full-width imagery, with room for the image at the top with the information below the fold. The easy to use navigation system comes with subpages for additional content if you want!
If you are looking to DIY or getting a start with your website, then Iris is the perfect choice for you! It’s a single page scrolling site making for simple navigation with a feeling of interaction. As visitors scroll, page banners fade away as the header space shrinks featuring an easily accessible navigation bar. Content is separated by vertically stacked divider images, and there is parallax scrolling.
We love the Rod & Cone framework option! It’s very flexible and allows you to feature larger background photos behind your content. The great thing about the flexibility of the framework is that you don’t even have to use photos as your background. You can simply use a vibrant color if that is more what fits your website. With this option, you can also add in sidebars if it fits the look and feel of your sit. Having information to the side is a great way to do things like highlight landing pages and collection information among other things.
Acuity is a great option to choose from if you are looking for a minimalist feel, but also one that offers bold images. The images you can use are strong in this framework, as well as the overlay content. There is a customizable navigation area makes it simple for potential clients to learn more about you and the services that you offer. It’s also a great space for current clients to access important documents or anything else that they might need to find out. The layout is clean and simple, making for a modern approach that is very popular with our clients!
Pupil is one of our only frameworks that have drop-down subpage menus that are mobile-friendly! This framework features a large hero image at the top of each page that is a little more prominent than the one in the Fresnel option!
Prism is our newest framework that we couldn’t wait to introduce. There are so many awesome new features, and you can now automatically create looping and muted video backgrounds for any page’s hero section. Additionally, users can you can add a secondary navigation visible outside of the pull-out-menu.
Not sure how to choose the best framework for your firm? Don’t fear! Check out our post: Choosing a Website Framework for Your Financial Planning Firm.
Framework-Based Advisor Website Examples:
To put this all into perspective we’ve rounded up a few advisor website examples that are built on frameworks. The first example below uses a bold hero image right on the homepage to capture visitors’ attention with a clean look and feel and minimalist navigation.
This next example has a very interactive feel to it and also offers the simplicity of finding everything you need in one scroll.
Below Custom Wealth Management takes a simple yet bold statement with their website. You can tell right off the bat that there were no limitations on graphics and functionality with this website. They used icons not in a 1:1 table or format alongside content. You can also see the divider between the hero space and content below isn’t a straight line, this slight movement in the line breaks gives the site a more visual appeal.
Now that you understand a bit more about framework templates and all of the options, let’s learn a bit more about template-based websites. It may seem that with all the custom options and cool features that you can add to framework websites, why would you choose any other option?
Well, historically templates were the only option for most advisors who wanted to have a website but also remain compliant. They also are typically severely limiting in what can be changed, which some people find actually helps them make decisions quicker, and thus get a website “up and running” faster.
Template-Based Website Examples:
So, you want to see a template-based website example? Here are a few:
This first example from Bemiston Asset Management is a good one to begin with because it clearly shows the column confinement we mentioned earlier. You can see even though these are two different pages “products & services” and “our founder” they both use a 3×1 column display.
The next example from Family Capital Management below illustrates how template-based websites are more space driven vs content-driven. You can see that the content here is placed into predefined areas in an alternating pattern with an image either to the right or the left of the content.
The final template-based example we’re going to share today is from Maxwell Financial Management. Images are aligned right with copy on the left-hand side of the page wrapping the images. A pretty straight-forward, no customization approach to their process page.
Every financial planning firm is going to have a different set of criteria when entering a website design project. Needs vs. wants will differ across the board but it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between frameworks and templates as you research website providers. It’s also important to consider function before selecting a path to go down.
And as for us? Well, after watching hundreds of thousands of financial advisors be limited to the same website templates, Twenty Over Ten’s co-founders saw a need in the market and set about to fill it. They recognized the need for advisors to be able to have unique, customizable websites that still meet all 17a-4 rules and regulations regarding compliance review and archiving. Our platform does just that. We also understand that sometimes, you just want to get a website up and running quickly, but then down the road, as your business grows, you’ll have changes and updates you’ll want to make (without having to completely redesign your site). Our platform allows for that as well.
We are proud to be the first provider to offer a framework-based website option for advisors that allows you to be creative while remaining compliant. Our platform automatically archives every published change to your website, giving you access to a private website URL and print-friendly documentation. All of our archiving meets SEC rule 17a-4 and is available to you through your dashboard at any time.
We hope that the above breakdown helps you make an informed decision about the next step to take with your advisor website!
Talk to Us About How a Framework Can Benefit Your Advisor Business
Your website should represent your business, not fit into a cookie-cutter template. Your website is something most prospects will visit before ever contacting you so it’s important to put your best foot forward. Work with Twenty Over Ten’s award-winning designers today to create the website you’ve always dreamed of.