The dirty dozen: 12 signs your website needs updating

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As the foundation for a successful marketing strategy, I firmly believe every advisory firm should have a website. But, once it has been built, too many advisers gleefully tick it off their to do list and then promptly forget about it.

That’s a mistake.

The design of your website probably has a shelf life of three to five years, but, the content can soon become out of date. This reduces the effectiveness of the site, as well as your credibility in the eyes of both existing and potential clients.

To put it another way, your website is your shop window, available for all to see, why would you want it looking anything other than its best?

Here are 12 signs which show your website needs updating. How many are you guilty of?

1. Being unable to update your own site

If you can’t update your own website, either because:

  • You lack the knowledge, or
  • Your web designer won’t give you access

you will always be playing catch up.

If the reason is a lack of knowledge, I’d recommend learning, and fast! Don’t be nervous, it is significantly less complex than most of the technology you use on a day to day basis.

Alternatively, delegate the task to someone else in your business. But being able to make quick changes to your site, for example when you receive a new testimonial, at the start of a new tax-year or after a Budget, is hugely beneficial.

If the problem is a reluctance on the part of your web developer to give you access, the answer is simple, insist they do or change developer. In my experience their reluctance to give you access is because they want to levy a charge for each update.

If you take only one thing from this article, learn how to update your own website, it is the gateway to solving many other issues.

2. Still referring to the FSA

It’s hard to believe, but three years on from the change, I still see adviser’s websites referring to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

This is unforgivable, if I were your client I’d be concerned you’ve missed such a basic, yet fundamental change, what else are you missing when you advise me?

3. Out of date regulatory statements

This follows from the previous point.

Failure to include any regulatory statements whatsoever, could unnerve a prospective client. Whilst they probably don’t know the exact wording which should appear, as a minimum they will want reassurance you are regulated by the FCA.

Talking of the regulator, not including the appropriate statements on your website could pique the interest from someone at Canary Wharf. Again, if you’re getting such a basic, yet fundamental, point wrong, what else are you missing?

4. Team images

It’s fair to say we are becoming less formal in the way we do business, if you have changed your style over the years, is this reflected in your online images?

Images of you and your team should reflect their personalities and the culture of your business. For example, if you are an informal, ‘ties off’ business, there’s no need for a three-piece suit when you pose for website images.

Images should authentically represent you and your business.

5. Team changes

If an adviser or member of staff leaves your business, make sure you update your website. Likewise, add new members of your team as soon as they join.

Not doing so is potentially misleading and gives the impression you are not on the ball.

6. Out of date blogs

My pet hate.

There’s which kills credibility and demonstrates a general disinterest than a blog or news section which hasn’t been updated for months, or even years.

We’ve all done it, started with the best of intentions, but as the demands of day to day business take their toll, updating the blog moves slowly down the ‘to do list’ until it falls off the bottom completely.

I’m a big believer in the value of content (articles, blogs etc), it allows you to give value to visitors, whilst demonstrating your expertise in the niches you work in. But it has to be kept up to date, if you can’t commit to at least monthly updates, you’re better off not bothering.

7. Old testimonials

I firmly believe in the benefits of including testimonials on your website, but they need to be updated regularly.

Prospective clients may well visit your site a number of times before they make the decision to get in touch, seeing the same testimonials will become gradually less impressive. Whereas, regularly updated testimonials will make it clear you are an adviser who consistently impresses clients.

8. Mobile unfriendly

Unless you use Google Analytics and unfortunately most advisers don’t, you won’t know what percentage of the visitors view your website on a mobile device; smart phone, tablet etc.

I’d estimate that at least half of all visitors view your site on a mobile device and there’s no doubt that percentage is on the increase.

Pick up your smart phone or tablet and take a look at your website. How does it look? As good as it does on a desktop?

If the answer is “no” you have some work to do. Pinching and shrinking a screen to fit on a mobile device will only annoy the visitor and increase the chances of them giving up all together and engage with a more up to date competitor.

9. Broken links

There are two types of website links; internal and external.

External links, to other websites, for example the FCA Register, are often included at the initial design stage and also in blog articles.

Internal links are used to direct the visitor to additional pages on your website, where they will find useful information and also to the key calls to action you want them to take.

The addresses for specific pages, known as URLs, can change and the link therefore needs to be updated. This won’t happen automatically, so links should be checked regularly to confirm they are still working.

Nothing is more irritating to a visitor, or reduces the credibility of an adviser, than broken links.

10. Regular events

There are three events each year which should trigger you to review the content on your website:

  1. Tax-year end
  2. Budget
  3. Autumn Statement

I’d recommend producing in-depth updates on your website, explaining how the changes affect your clients. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this, the very minimum you should do is confirm the existing information on your site is still correct following each tax-year end, Budget and Autumn Statement.

If the information is significantly out of date, this reflects on your credibility as an adviser.

11. Branding

Have any changes to your branding been reflected on your website?

It’s vital your branding displays consistently both on and offline, which includes your website, advisor directories and any social media channels you use.

12. “It’s a bit 2003”

Advisers regularly ask me to cast an eye over their website and give my verdict.

Some are excellent, most average and others need serious work. Being a polite soul, and not wanting to offend anyone, I often refer to websites as being “a bit 2003”.

We’ve all seen websites which just look tired and dated compared to the best offered by competitors, is yours one of these? Answer honestly!

If it is, now is the time to make some changes.

Take action

How many of the ‘deadly dozen’ have you ticked off?

To be honest, even if you have just one tick, it’s time to take action.

This starts by empowering yourself, or a member of your team, to be able to update the website yourself and make the changes necessary.

Don’t delay either, as I’ve said, your website is your shop window; potential clients are visiting regularly, do you want them to engage with you, or move along to a more credible, and frankly on the ball competitor?

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