Are you the owner of a financial firm or financial website?
If so, numbers, markets and other financial knowledge probably spin your wheels. You have an inherent interest in the topic, but the trick is making your website attractive for others.
Let’s face it, to many people, the impression of financial websites is that they’re very serious, perhaps even dry and boring. Everyone needs to in some way manage finances well, so the more you can do to make it attractive, the better.
How will you get people saying “that’s cool, tell me more”? These are some of the secrets of the best financial websites:
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They keep it simple
Of course, we’re covering a lot of ground here with the term “financial website.” You might be a financial software company, a financial advisor, a market trading site or simply a general site offering financial advice or tips.
One thing that any of these have in common is the potential to be complex. You might have some super-savvy customers, but many people will break out into a cold sweat at the mere mention of financial terms.
For this reason, simplicity is essential.
Remember that people may be coming to the website with a problem that’s already giving them a headache, they’ll be more appreciative of a site that is easy to understand, follow and use. It’s not that you can’t go into any complex details, but those shouldn’t be what you lead with.
What does “keeping it simple” really mean? Here are a few ideas for starters:
- Your headline and subheadline should make it very clear what you do to any layperson.
- It should be easy for website visitors to work out where to go next. This means simple navigation and clear buttons or calls to action.
- Avoid using excessive jargon or complex terminology, at least on your key site pages (home, about etc.). If the jargon is essential to know, include it with clear explanations in your resources.
- When you do have complicated information to share, do what you can to represent it through graphics. Graphs, charts or infographics can help people to better visualize data and gather meaning from it.
- Explain your services clearly. There are many examples of websites out there where someone new arrives and is left asking, “so, what does this do?!”
Who does a good job of keeping it simple on their website? Bvetterment does, you can see a screenshot of the upper section of their homepage below. The design isn’t too fussy or confusing, while the messaging is clear and to-the-point.
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They break down complex information
A key mistake with financial websites (and websites for other technical niches) is that the information often seems to be written for the company directors rather than the customers. You might be able to drop terms like “fixed asset,” “arbitrage,” or “haircut,” into casual conversation, but unless your target customer is very financially-savvy, they’re probably wondering what a trip to the salon has to do with finances!
In fact, 78% of financial advisors strongly agree that financial literacy is a problem in the United States. This means that if you get too complicated, or don’t find ways to share complex information in a way that is easy for people to understand, you will probably lose them. (As we’ve previously mentioned, “the answer to confusion is no”). If one of your goals is to be part of the solution to financial literacy, then you need to connect with people on their own level.
SigFig is an example of an investment service that breaks down complex information with charts and other graphics, so that even a complete newb can understand what they’re talking about. Rather than just talking about performance and percentages, they show it, such as through the graph below:
They convey trustworthiness
Simplicity and accessibility aside, dealing with finances is still a serious issue for most people. They want to understand what’s happening and the services on offer, but they also want to feel that their financial needs are taken seriously.
It’s common sense – if you’re seeking financial advice, you want to know that it’s going to help your situation rather than put you in peril. Therefore, when a visitor comes to your website, they should feel that you are a trustworthy choice.
How can financial websites convey trustworthiness? Here are a few tips:
- Consider your color scheme. The colors you choose for your brand should align with your values and the impression that you want to give your customers. While there are many different interpretations out there of color theory for websites, it’s often accepted that green is associated with growth and wealth (many banks use it), whereas red or some other bold colors may be too “out there” for a financial website.
- Keep it simple, but maintain professionalism. It’s not that you need to be stiff and over-formal, but people should feel reassured that you take their financial well being seriously.
- Share your credentials. With anything as important as financial matters, people want to know they’re getting information from someone who knows their stuff.
- Keep your website design clean and uncluttered. This helps to convey that you “keep a tidy office” and that you can be trusted to keep finances in order too.
Look at how lending site, Earnest, manages to engage, keep messaging simple AND convey a sense of trustworthiness. Their explanations are clear, including giving a basic idea of loan terms and what to expect. They include important links at the bottom, such as their privacy terms and lending licenses. These also help to build their profile as a trustworthy company.
They offer free resources
Blog posts, infographics, free downloads and other forms of content can be great for adding SEO value to your website. For financial websites, they’re also an excellent way to add value and build up your credibility as a service. In a sense, it’s another way you can build trust with a potential customer.
The key is to keep those free resources useful and interesting. For example, an investment app might break down key investing terms that people new to investing need to understand. They might explain the process – how do people make money? What are the risks?
This actually raises a good point for financial services; clearly explaining risks (rather than leaving them buried in fine print and jargon) can help to solidify trust in your business. People appreciate that you are upfront with them and that you’re ensuring they go into any service with their eyes open.
To get to the heart of what a “useful” or “valuable” resource will be to your audience, you have to understand them well first. Identify their key problems, concerns, questions and goals. These are great places to start when formulating any free resources.
If you can put together a tool that makes a task easier, this is often a popular feature with customers. For example, mortgage calculators, debt repayment tools and retirement investment estimators.
Dave Ramsey has been a popular financial advisor for almost three decades, starting on a radio show in Nashville. If you check out his website, you will find many different free resources, sorted by simple menus. Explanations are clear and the free calculators are easy to use.
For anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by all the information available, one thing the website does very well is point people to a “get started” menu. Tips are broken down to be simple and achievable, such as Dave’s “Seven Baby Steps.”
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The bottom line is that the best financial websites are built with their customers in mind. The messaging is thoughtfully crafted to ensure that people understand what the service is about, without tripping over unnecessary jargon.
Importantly, every financial website needs to build trust with their target audience. While you don’t have to be boring or rigid, people do need to feel that you know what you’re doing and that their financial situation is safe in your hands.
Lastly, deliver value. How can you delight a potential customer before they’ve even signed up?