Why your website’s design may matter more than you think

Your financial website isn’t merely a place where your prospects and clients can find you on the net, it’s an extension of your brand.

Especially in the investment business, your web presence is an extension of you.

People who first encounter you and your business online form a very quick — and strong — view of who you are.

How your clients think about you (and how your website influences them)

Many advisors I meet get a simple, basic (ugly?) website up just to have something online.  Something simple, plain, with some contact info.

…because you just gotta be there…

I’d challenge that assumption.

If a person’s eyes are the windows to his soul, those same eyes are his window to the world.

Our perception — even our very 1st visual understanding of a new product or service– immediately informs our beliefs. In a big way.

Research by neuroscientists shows that

  • People identify with (or avoid) certain personalities.
  • Trust is related to personality.
  • Perception and expectations are linked with personality.
  • Consumers “choose” products that are an extension of themselves.
  • We treat sufficiently advanced technology as though it were human.

Throwing a sub-par website at them that wasn’t designed with you (or them) in mind will not only not help you land these new clients but can actively push them away.

Right, your website’s design is that important in growing your business.

Designing your website professionally…yourself

I’m not saying design is everything, more that it’s something powerful.

Hiring a fancy-pants expensive designer to design your firm’s website isn’t always the right move either. I’m not talking about design for the sake of design — I’m talking about designing something that informs new prospects exactly what you’re all about.

Whether you outsource the design or get more involved with it yourself, there are some core tools and concepts you’ll need to learn.

From Bootstrapping Design, a great resource to learn the basics of DIY design:

To evaluate design, you must be impartial. You have to check your personal taste and predispositions at the door and consider whether the work succeeds in solving the problem at hand.

We all believe we can recognize good design when we see it, but creating it is a different story. Evaluating your own design work is difficult, and it takes practice. There are a few tricks that can help you look at your work with a different perspective. Beyond these tricks, a second opinion can work wonders.

8 design resources to help you get started fast

  1. Jakob Nielsen’s blog: Nielsen’s old UseIt blog was the first resource I found (like in 1998) that addressed design from a usability standpoint by calculating its business impact
  2. Bootstrapping Design (ebook): great ebook that addresses high-level design principles and color, typography, etc for non-designers
  3. Smashing Magazine: Lot of examples of winning design and tools to help
  4. 40+ web design resources for beginners (Mashable)
  5. I Love Typography: blog @ typography and its role in effective website design
  6. UsabilityPost: good blog focusing on designing websites with good usability
  7. Color Matters: Great place to start for color theory
  8. Gestalt Principles of Web Design: A series of blogs that codify laws and principles governing good web design
What are you doing to improve the design of your website?



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  • http://www.buraq-technologies.com/ ambreen11

    I really like your post and worthy sayings. Your website is the virtual representation of your business brand.Extra attention should be paid to every detail in order to make sure that it performs to its fullest and serves its purpose.This article is of great help to every web designer.

  • Dan

    Hi Zack,

    You reference Norman, 2004 in the diagram. Could you mention that full reference. I’d love to look it up and learn more about the diagram.



  • http://www.tradestreaming.com Tradestreaming

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. The idea is from a book by Donald Norman entitled Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things.

    Norman suggests that there are 3 levels of design: the “visceral” level (feelings about) how things look, feel, smell, etc.) Viscerally well-designed
    products tend to evoke positive emotions in the consumers at the subconcious level.

    Next, the “behavioral” level (when users react to use of a product). Product performance is important, and thus designers must ensure that the product is easy to use and that the functionality of the product is easy to comprehend. Norman suggests that good behavioral design must be a fundamental part of the design process from the beginning.

    Third, the “reflective” level is the level at which the product has meaning for consumers; it accounts for how consumers maintain an innate sense of identity through the consumption of the product over time. Marketing plays a large role in incorporating the reflective design elements in a product.