News article

6 proven things that make an award-winning and empathetic website

At last month’s Professional Adviser Awards, Delaunay Wealth won the Best Adviser Website category. It’s the third year out of four that a website we’ve designed, developed, and written has won the award. And in 2022, when one of our sites didn’t win, four were shortlisted.

So, in this week’s blog, we thought we’d take a look at the things that makes an award-winning website.

You might say that impressing existing clients, professional connections, and new prospects is more important than winning an award. And you’d be right. But the award is an indicator of quality and effectiveness.

You can also use this list of six things we think the judges look for as a checklist for your website.

1. Showcasing your clients

If you’ve read Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand, you’ll know the importance of showcasing heroes in your marketing. In the context of financial advice/planning, your clients are the heroes.

On the sites for Delaunay Wealth and Smith & Wardle (which won Best Adviser Website in 2021), we showcased clients by using videos recorded in their homes or workplace. The aim of each video is to encourage the client to explain their journey, including:

  • Why they needed help
  • What the adviser/planner did
  • How the client feels now about their finances and the future.

Of course, there are other ways to showcase clients:

  • Publish client survey results
  • Add client testimonials (although the other options are better)
  • Use online ratings and reviews (usually by embedding Google and VouchedFor widgets into the site).

Whichever option you choose (and we usually recommend a survey, online reviews, and videos), it’s important not to fall into the trap of adding social proof to only one page of your site. Too many advisers/planners include a testimonials page on their website and then expect visitors to find their way there.

They won’t.

Only 1-2% of all visitors ever go to the testimonials page. Instead, you need to scatter the social proof around the website’s most popular pages, so visitors see it wherever they go.

2. Showcasing your team

Donald Miller also talks about showcasing “guides” or, in other words, your team. This makes perfect sense. After all, you and your team are going to work closely with clients over many years, helping them to achieve their life’s ambitions.

That’s why team pages on adviser/planner websites are so popular. Each of the award-winning websites has several things in common:

  • Team images on the homepage either above the fold or after the first scroll
  • A “meet the team” page
  • Individual pages for each team member.

The sites do a lot more than explain the professional stuff you’d expect to see on these pages. You learn the team’s likes, dislikes, passions, and motivations. This all helps to create an immediate sense of connection with the visitor.

3. Explaining who you work with

Too often adviser/planner websites are long on services and products, and short on the types of clients they work with. That’s a mistake.

When prospects land on your website, they want to understand whether you’re the expert they’ve been looking for. That means your website needs to do two things:

  1. Empathise with the reasons they’re there, and
  2. Demonstrate that you’re skilled and experienced in working with people like them.

So, ask yourself a simple question: “which is more likely to achieve that aim, talking about products and services or the types of people you work with?”

If you answered: “the types of people you work with”, go to the head of the class!

That’s why each of the award-winning websites has a dedicated section explaining who the firm works with. And it’s also why there isn’t a list which explains that they do:

  • Pensions
  • Protection
  • Mortgages
  • Investments
  • IHT planning.

I’ll stop now, it’s bloody boring!

4. Social proof to show the value of working with you

Showing the value of what you do beats telling people. And the best way to show people is social proof. All three of our award-winning sites include bags of social proof.

Delaunay Wealth includes client videos, VouchedFor and Google reviews, plus client survey results. Red Circle has some fantastic client stories and images supplied by the clients. Finally, the Smith & Wardle website has videos and VouchedFor reviews.

If you don’t have social proof on your website, you’re missing a trick.

Sure, you might not see the value, but this isn’t about you. It’s about potential clients and convincing them that you’re the right firm.

5. Great photography

Along with social proof, photos of you, your team and your offices are the second thing that elevates a website into something truly impressive.

All three of the firms took on board our recommendations about photography. Each had a professional photoshoot and the websites are better for it. The images create a connection with the visitor and show the team’s personality. Also, hover over the professional team images on the Smith & Wardle website – it will make you (and prospective clients) smile!

In contrast, websites that rely too heavily on stock images feel impersonal and soulless.

6. Disclosing fees online

As we’ve said many times, there are pros and cons to disclosing fees online. One of the pros, if you want to win this award, is that the Professional Adviser judges seem to like it.

That said, it needs to be a wider decision, considering all the advantages and disadvantages of online fee disclosure.

Each of the three award-winning websites discloses the firm’s fees. Their fees pages include:

  • The specific fees charged
  • The service delivered, and the benefits
  • Worked examples given different scenarios
  • Social proof to demonstrate the value of advice.

If you’d like to know more about the pros and cons of disclosing fees online you can click here to rewatch a webinar we ran earlier in the year. If you already have a fees page on your website, you can test its effectiveness by clicking here and using our free online scorecard.

We’re here if you want an award-winning, prospect impressing, website

After six years of building websites, three that have been voted Best Adviser Website and numerous other nominations, we like to think we know a thing or two about what works.

If you’ve recently built a website, use the list above as a checklist. How many can you tick off?

Alternatively, if 2023 is the year you bite the bullet and build a shiny new website, you’ll be in safe hands with us. Email or call 0115 8965 300 to start an initial discussion.

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