In today’s fast-paced digital era, establishing a strong online presence is crucial for any business. One of the key decisions you’ll face in your firm’s marketing strategy is how to present your brand through your website. The choice between a templated website and a customized site is a critical one, and it can significantly impact your firm’s online identity and user experience.

Option One: Fully Templated Websites

Opting for a templated website offers a level of convenience that cannot be ignored. You can choose from a variety of pre-existing templates, making it easier to set up and launch your site quickly. These templates are often adjustable to suit your specific needs, allowing for some degree of customization. This can be an excellent option for financial advisory firms with limited resources or those looking for a straightforward online presence. These platforms often provide a range of features tailored to the needs of the industry, such as client portals, contact forms, and integration with financial tools.

However, the downside lies in the lack of uniqueness. Templated websites run the risk of feeling generic and might not effectively convey the distinct essence of your firm. It’s essential to carefully select and modify the template to ensure it aligns with your brand identity.

The prevailing choice for templated websites in the financial services sector is often FMG Suite or Advisor Websites. Many Broker/Dealers and RIAs favor this solution due to its cost-effectiveness for advisors, coupled with the convenience of a built-in compliance dashboard. Typically, these websites are available to advisors on a month-to-month subscription basis at a nominal fee. It’s crucial to understand that with this option, you do not own your website; instead, you are essentially ‘renting’ a templated website from FMG or Advisor Websites, so just make sure you review their terms and conditions prior to making a final decision on which type of site is best for your practice.

This category of website presents a compelling choice for advisors seeking a cost-effective and polished online presence. For advisors opting for this route, we recommend dedicating time and effort to personalize both the content and design of your website. Additionally, commit to consistently updating the pages and blog content of your website. Relying solely on the design and content provided by a templated site can restrict your brand and hinder your site’s Search Engine Optimization.

Option Two: Customized Templated Website

In today’s digital age, building a professional and functional website doesn’t always require starting from scratch with custom code. Thanks to the availability of customizable templates offered by platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and others, individuals and businesses can create impressive websites efficiently and affordably. Templates provide a starting point with predefined styles, structures, and functionalities. When you use a template, you customize its elements such as colors, fonts, layout, and content to align with your brand and needs. This process typically involves using a visual editor or customization options provided by the platform. By utilizing a template, you can quickly create a professional-looking website without the need for extensive coding knowledge or starting from scratch. However, templates have limitations in terms of customization and may not offer unique features compared to custom-built websites.

Building a website using a template offers several advantages, including affordability, ease of use, and time efficiency. Templates provide ready-made designs that can be quickly customized to match specific branding and content needs, making them accessible to individuals and small businesses without extensive technical skills. However, templates come with limitations in customization and uniqueness. They may not fully reflect the desired brand identity or offer advanced functionalities compared to custom-built websites. Additionally, using popular templates can result in a less distinctive online presence, as many other websites may use the same or similar designs.

Therefore, while templates are convenient for getting started quickly and on a budget, they may not fully meet the requirements that many financial advisory firms are seeking in a highly customized and unique website.

Option Three: Fully Custom Website

On the other hand, choosing a fully custom-coded website provides an opportunity to craft a digital presence that is truly unique to your firm. A custom built website ensures responsiveness across all devices and offers a modern, crisp aesthetic that sets your brand apart. This option is ideal for financial advisory firms who are looking to digitally communicate their distinct identity and values through a tailored online experience.

A fully custom website allows for creativity in design, ensuring that your online presence doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter template. It becomes a powerful tool to convey the true essence of your firm while effectively communicating relevant information to your visitors. A custom-built website also provides more flexibility for future expansion on your website. It’s easier to add or delete pages, videos, podcasts and niche focuses on your website if you have a custom-built website.

However, the biggest value we see in choosing a custom-built website is that it provides a huge advantage if you are looking to attract qualified prospects to your practice through your website by implementing a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy on your website.

A custom-built website allows for the creation of unique, tailored content, highly valued by search engines for its positive impact on rankings, unlike templated websites often featuring generic content shared across multiple sites. Custom websites offer an optimized structure, contributing to enhanced user experience and efficient indexing by search engine crawlers. Additionally, the flexibility of custom-built sites ensures responsiveness across devices, aligning with search engines’ prioritization of mobile-friendly websites. Performance optimization is achievable, addressing factors like speed and efficiency, while templated sites may carry unnecessary features hindering loading times.

The adaptability of custom-built websites proves advantageous for future updates, changes, and evolving business needs, whereas templated websites may face limitations in customization. Custom sites also allow for specific back-end optimization, including meta and header tags, a control level often restricted in templated websites.

Furthermore, custom-built websites mitigate the risk of duplicate content issues prevalent in templated sites, as search engines penalize duplicated content, affecting SEO rankings. While templated websites offer cost-effectiveness and time efficiency, especially for small businesses, the higher control, uniqueness, and optimization of custom-built websites have a lasting positive impact on SEO performance.

Decision Factors: Differentiation and Resource Allocation

The choice between a templated and a customized website ultimately depends on the level of differentiation you seek and the resources your team can allocate to website management. If your firm requires a unique and highly tailored online presence, a customized website is the way to go. However, if time and resources are limited, a templated site can still be a viable option, provided you invest effort in customization to avoid a generic feel.

AMG: Your Partner in Crafting an Exceptional Website

Regardless of your choice, AMG is poised to provide strategic direction and implementation for the creation of your new website. Our robust team, comprising project managers, content writers, graphic designers, and website developers, ensures you receive the best website possible. From templated adjustments to fully customized solutions, AMG is committed to helping your firm thrive in the digital landscape.

Some of our clients opt for the FMG Suite templated option, and for those clients we assist them in tailoring their websites with unique photos and content that resonate with their individual brand. Here is an example of a solo advisor whose FMG website we’ve helped update and optimize to effectively showcase his personal brand.

Nevertheless, a significant number of our clients choose to collaborate with us in crafting a custom website tailored to their practice. The allure of flexibility, extensive customization, SEO advantages, and the ownership of the final product often outweigh the convenience offered by templated websites. Here is an example of a recent custom-built website we created for an advisor who had a clear vision of what he wanted in his new, custom-built website. Here are Align Marketing Group, we are fortunate to have a web developer who is able to write WordPress code which provides our clients with access to a high level of customization options for their websites.

In conclusion, the decision between a templated and a customized website is a pivotal one that should align with your firm’s goals and resources. It’s crucial to make a decision regarding your website that aligns with the current needs and budget of your practice. Whichever path you choose, AMG is here to guide you towards a compelling online presence that reflects the true essence of your brand.