How to plan your fintech Webdesign project
Plan your Fintech Web Design Project
I’m writing this post to try and make the ” plan your Fintech web design project” question as transparent as possible, at least from my agency’s perspective.
This should be applicable to any business we work with, but Fintech and its sub-verticals or sister sectors will all benefit from this I’m sure.
Financial technology web design or Fintech web design as it may also be referred to is just a phrase, as much as Estate agency web design or financial services web design is. But I don’t want to detract from what I am setting out to achieve here so I shall progress.
Things that can go wrong
Assuming that this is a website redesign project, that your startup has kicked on and you now have money to invest in your business and it’s marketing, rather than utilising the premium WordPress theme you purchased from ThemeForest or template monster. I thought it prudent to talk about what can go wrong first, rather than talk about the things that can go right.
If you have been either hosting your own website or have had your friend or another agency hosting the website, chances are the new agency will want to host the website. We do, in fact, it nullifies our warranty if the website isn’t hosted on our servers, simply because if we host it, we’re fully responsible for it. There is a limited chance for 3rd party interaction causing issues and possible problems.
When a website is transferred, you can lose email service, accrue technical errors and possibly have your website down for a few days whilst things get fixed. My advice is to get a copy of your website and its database and give that to your new agency/provider and let them get that working prior to making a full switch of hosting facilities.
Email Services Down
As I just mentioned, during a transfer of hosting it is possible that your email services will go down. This could be simply because your domain has been forwarded via its Domain Nameserver settings to the current hosting and therefore those settings will need changing. Or it could be that your domain was purchased with your hosting package and you may need to transfer your domains between registrars to proceed.
Either way, it is best to ask your provider how your emails are set up and how they can be transferred, then inform the new hosting provider/email provider.
Other Hosting Issues
There are a number of hosting issues you could run into. You have better-hosting providers than others, so don’t buy hosting solely on price. I’ve seen really cheap providers have a lot of downtimes, which means your site spends a lot of time offline. You wouldn’t notice as you don’t spend your day looking at it every minute. If you’re on WordPress, install jetpack, it will advise you by email every time the site goes down.
Saying that I’ve seen very credible hosting companies offer the greatest services, only to find that there is no support, especially if you use a Hybrid or VPS server. You really need to know what you are getting, so check review sites and compare feedback.
Another topic I briefly mentioned was domain transfers. Domain transfers often happen when you swap providers. If your current hosting provider purchased your domain, the likelihood is that they purchased it from their hosting supplier. This can cause issues when you want to transfer as often, the current provider has registered the domains in their name, not yours, so ensure when you buy a domain through an agency or freelancer that your details are listed in full, not theirs. You have no legal claim to a domain registered in the agencies name so be careful.
Usually, transfers are painless but can take up to 48 hours to transfer, so expect your website to be offline for some time, it’s a bonus if not.
Having been on the receiving end of this issue, onboarding a client from another agency or freelancer can be problematic. Issues I’ve seen usually stem because a move has been caused by either a poor service, lack of clarity around managing expectations or possibly the client is the problem. You never find out about the latter until it’s too late.
So sometimes payments are outstanding, the incumbent agency drags its heels around the admin, new registrar details are incorrectly input and other issues I’m sure can appear I haven’t experienced. I say expect the worst and be happy with no problems.
Websites get Hacked
Websites get hacked! You don’t need to be a Goliath of business for some unscrupulous git with code experience to hack your website and leave their mark. Typically they will rearrange your file structure, leave their calling card graphically and leave a rootkit that will enable them to re-access the website if the proper cleansing of the infected files does not take place. Avoid this by backing up the website daily via your cpanel (check with your hosting supplier) or off-site with WordPress plugins like Updraft plus – backup/restore.
You may be thinking how can this go wrong? But ongoing maintenance isn’t free. Some people assume ongoing CMS (content management systems, what enables your site to be edited) and plugin/module/software updates are included in the price, they aren’t and you need to be aware of that.
Find out if your web designer offers ongoing maintenance packages, what they cost and if you can do it yourself. Remember this, if you opt to do it yourself and fail to maintain the updates, your site can be hacked which can result in a rebuild or a heavy bill to put things right.
SEO isn’t free
You build your website and you want to get ranked on page one in the search engine results, for your product or service. This takes time and skill. There are paid search options and natural or organic options, but both have fees, so bear that in mind when planning your website project.
Don’t be the person who builds a website, doesn’t spend time marketing it and then moans that the platform didn’t bring you any results.
Technology develops at a fast rate these days. For bigger website projects, taking six months or more, there is a chance that technology for some aspects or functionality can change. There is no obligation for your webdesign agency to utilise the new technology and in fact, your expectation should be that the currently available technology at the time of booking will be used and any changes would incur costs/fees.
I wanted to start the post covering the negatives because I believe that if you can grasp the worst of what can happen upfront, you can plan better accepting that problems may occur and how to foresee or allow for them.
Goals and Planning
Whenever you plan your fintech Webdesign project, you should first build out a picture of your ideal customer. This is commonly referred to as a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a profile of one or more ideal customer types who procure your goods or services. A well-developed persona doesn’t just look at the buying power and position in the client’s company, but really builds out a picture of why they are behaving the way they do.
My advice is if you don’t have personas develop them first. Don’t hypothesise where possible and interview real or prospective clients and find out their pain points, why they buy your goods or services and how they go about sourcing new suppliers. Try and find out their online activity, where do they search, how do they search, what’s their favourite website of the current supplier(s).
Once you have this down and mapped, you can start the planning of the webdesign project in earnest.
At Bias Digital we have 5 stages, other freelancers or agencies could work differently or similarly:
- Understand clients business & services
- Competitor analysis + Loose wireframe
- Full wireframe + Graphic Design
- Build and snagging
- Testing and sign off
If you’ve been lucky enough or prudent enough to source your competitors from your interviews or your local business pages or even google, then do full competitor analysis. Depending on clients needs, you can ask for a 3, 5 or sometimes 8 competitor analysis reports.
These reports look at the following:
- Social Media
- Customer Acquisition
- Market Positioning
Once you have completed stages 1 and 2 of the process, your agency/designer should mock up a simple wireframe displaying where they feel you could get the most return from your investment. This is presented with the results of the competitor analysis and then you have the opportunity to discuss the results and see where the creative thought process is.
Stage 3 (providing that stages 1 and 2 are agreed) involves a two-part process. The first will be a round of revisions based on the basic mockup and any changes that you or further investigation present. This should be done before any artistic graphics are generated in photoshop.
Once you are satisfied and can sign off the wireframe, the agency should create the PSD (photoshop) graphics which show the website layout in more detail, using colours, fonts and images etc.
Admittedly, PSD files are flat and do not really show how the website will look in the end but will be as near to as possible. Sometimes colours in print and on-screen differ and different size screens will show the website layout differently, whether or not you use responsive design.
You can ask your designer to use platforms like invisionapp , balsamiq moqups or justinmind to show you how the website could look before it’s built. This is a perfect time to make any changes in layout as after the build has started, extra costs to do so will accrue.
Avoid Scope Creep
So as I just touched on extra costs, scope creep is an important thing to understand when you plan your fintech Webdesign project. Your understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t won’t always match with your web designer.
For example, if you talk about a particular function of your website at a high level, let’s say an accounting function. You need to specify exactly what you want this function to do. If you don’t and the end result the developer delivers has functionality missing you wanted, well the developer is in his or her right to charge you extra for extra functionality. You must be totally specific about everything to ensure things go smoothly.
Understand that a designer and developer charge you for their time. This means that the more intricate the code or the design, the more you should expect to pay. Trying to not mention functionality, then pressing for it for free later only sours a relationship and often an agency will refuse to finalise your project until they are properly paid.
It’s in everybody’s best interest to have a clean, transparent, well planned out project from the outset and be prepared to pay if you forget or want to add or change things, post the design stage.
Costs and why they change
Some agencies have a fixed cost. They will produce you a website for £1500 to £2000. I wouldn’t expect a lot of what’s been previously talked about to be included, like competitor analysis, loose wireframes, rounds of design revisions etc
Other agencies will charge a fixed cost based on data gathered during a fact-finding meeting, an example of what that can entail. You could actually pre-populate as much of this project kick-off document as you can, prior to speaking to any agency or freelancer.
At Bias, we charge out stage by stage. There is a fixed cost for either a 3, 5, 8+ competitor analysis, loose wireframe and fact-finding stage.
We then have another meeting and go over what we found, why we presented the loose wireframes as we did and see if there is still synergy between us and the client. If we agree, we can then quote for an approximate number of design and graphic design hours to complete stage 3 of our process.
The reason we work this way is that we have no way of knowing after stage 1 and 2 how intricate or big this web design project is. Once we have discussed the loose wireframe and got feedback, we have a clearer idea of where we are, what functionality, styling is missing and roughly how long this conversion from paper to PSD will take. We always state that the hours are approx and may be shorter or longer but generally we are there or thereabouts.
Once we have the revisions of the PSD completed, we then know roughly how long in coding hours it will take to complete the build and we quote the equivalent hours beginning stage 4. Sometimes again the quote is under or over, but the client knows this is an educated guesstimate, which keeps all parties aware of where costs may be.
Again, I used our in-house example so you can build a picture of how things should work, this process has been developed over time and leaves options for parties to be paid for the work they perform and receive, but also to exit should a problem arise. Payments are always 40% upfront and 30% upon completion of designs and CMS integration and then 30% upon final sign off.
Costs in our process are always spelt out based on the information to hand, on occasion mid-process, wants and need of the client change and we can always accommodate more hours into a stage if needed rather than remaining to a full upfront quote, which can be harder to unwind as things change.
If you have got to this stage in your project and the build is underway and then completed on time and in scope, you have a winner. You can perform your testing and sign off before pushing the website live.
However, now you need to push and promote the site. You can’t invest the upfront time and money and then fail to market the site and drive traffic to it. This comes in many formats, such as:
- Paid Search (Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Affiliates)
- Organic SEO (Blogging, OnPage Optimisation)
- Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram)
When plan your fintech Webdesign project you will need to combine all of the above. Sharing your educational content, your products and service offering across multiple platforms will help drive traffic into your website. But, I want you to remember in order to maximise the opportunity to convert this traffic into customers, you must include the 8 points of conversion opportunity.
The ultimate aim of any website is to convert the traffic or website visitors into customers. To do this you must optimise your website when plan your fintech Webdesign project to contain as many of these as possible. My top 8 conversion opportunities are:
- Blog – Write as much educational content as possible about your product and services and post it on your blog
- Landing Pages – design landing pages that have forms that visitors must fill in to download premium content like whitepapers or brochures, webinars etc
- Content Offers – Again distribute your content offers throughout the website, use buttons to drive visitors to landing pages to download the content
- Calls to Action – You can’t simply blog and expect to convert. Use call to actions on your blog posts to move readers from the article to the offers you want them to download.
- Content Personalisation – Remember how you like to receive news and updates, if it’s not relevant, don’t produce it. Use content personalisation platforms like bright info to serve relevant and topical content to your readers.
- Exit Intent – A most underused way to capture email addresses for newsletters, or display offers that require an exchange of information
- Newsletter Sign Up – The easiest way to collect data from your visitors in order to market to them
- Live Chat – Live chat plugins can also run on your mobile device so you don’t really have an excuse not to have it on your website
This post I’m sure will continue to grow and be edited as no plans are definite or infinite, so a change will always be amongst us. But when you have to plan your fintech webdesign project, I’m sure these notes will come in handy.