In an earlier post, we spoke of how templates are an effective hack in the process for redesigning investment management websites.
That post touched on an important question, but left it largely unexplored: when is the appropriate time to undertake a redesign project?
The truth is that it depends on the extent to which investment management websites are integrated into a marketing strategy.
For firms with a highly-integrated digital content strategy, the necessity of redesigning the website is less when compared against those without a strong digital strategy.
So, weak digital strategy = more-frequent revisions? This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not.
If Digital Isn’t a Priority…
If a firm lacks a strong digital content marketing strategy, the website is their online brochure. While I’ve argued in the past that thinking about investment management websites as a brochure is unnecessarily limiting, it remains the dominant view in the industry.
So, absent a commitment to a long-term content strategy (and the related thought leadership that flows from such an approach), a website that sits unchanged and static demonstrates inertia in a firm’s business processes and execution.
Even if, on the investment side, what a firm does changes little from year-to-year, a long-in-tooth website with stale messaging does few favors to portray a manager’s business as vital, essential, and unique.
To maintain that appearance of vitality, firms can use website templates to quickly and easily update and enhance their online presence.
Here is the key takeaway: The flexibility and cost effectiveness of templates means that a firm can substitute website design for a more costly long-term investment in online digital content.
Certainly, it is more superficial and less effective than a thoughtful content strategy, but is far more preferable than doing nothing for 3-5 years at a clip.
If Digital IS Your Game…
For investment management firms with a strong digital strategy, revising the website isn’t nearly as high a priority because content is the main driver of a firm's reputation for incisive thinking and a unique worldview.
The routine, predictable creation of content that’s useful and helpful for a firm’s buyer personas is evidence in and of itself that your firm offers services that are unique and value-added.
When a strong digital game is in evidence, ongoing tweaks to the site can largely replace the big project we all picture when we think of a "website redesign."
What we mean is: under these circumstances, analytics generated from content creation, content distribution, and the performance of a firm’s website enables digital-savvy firms to use real-time user data to make adjustments to a site's
- information architecture (i.e.: how content is organized on the site),
- content, and
- the positioning of various elements on each page.
This data allows for an optimization of the user experience, helping a firm's audience to find the things in which they are most interested, and to do so faster and more efficiently than the competition.
Periodic overhauls, however, still have their place. Various technological, design, business, and competitive pressures will mandate an overhaul of both messaging and the site's technical design every so often.
For firms that are committed to a digital content strategy, frequently tweak and make the small-scale revisions which will keep your website a central, effective hub of your marketing efforts between overhauls.
For content-shy firms, using templates to enable a frequent website redesign schedule can help to keep the website a vital part of your marketing efforts, regardless of whether value-added digital content is a priority.
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