An article by Darrell Wilkins on 31 Aug 2021
Summary: FinTech firms struggle to efficiently build enterprise-level websites. Setting clear goals, effectively managing stakeholders and completing tasks in the right order will help you avoid mistakes, costly rework and an inadequate final site.
Building an effective website for a FinTech firm is particularly challenging. Your company is dynamic, disruptive and growing at breakneck speed. Off-the-shelf WordPress themes and site builders like Webflow are fine in the early days, but as you scale you quickly outgrow them.
Your website is the outside world's primary view into your business. Your prospects, customers and peers judge your firm by the quality of your site. The pressure is compounded because many in your position have only ever experienced turbulent, difficult and unsatisfactory website builds.
Building an enterprise-scale site for a fast growing FinTech firm doesn’t need to be so hard.
Three reasons large-scale website builds fail
- Enterprise site development projects are frequently fraught with problems and share common, undesirable outcomes:
- They’re delivered late and way over budget.
- The finished product doesn’t end up meeting user expectations or meeting the business goals.
- There’s a ton of rework post-launch.
The reasons these projects fail in the first place are often predictable. The three most common issues are:
1. The scale of what’s involved is not well understood
Even marketing and sales execs, those typically in charge of managing a website build, often don't grasp the breadth of the project at hand.
If that’s you, it’s not (entirely) your fault. There are so many things to consider when building a website, including:
- Project strategy
- Information architecture
- Content design
- Technology choices
And that’s just the beginning. There are over 20 distinct disciplines, all of which require a high level of expertise for success.
You can’t properly plan for a website build if you don’t know what’s involved, which is why so many projects struggle to succeed.
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2. Tasks are completed out of order
It isn't just that leadership underestimates how much effort is required to build a site. Important tasks are missed, have little strategic insight or are done out of order. All of which have a negative impact.
Two of the most common mistakes are:
- A technology-driven project, or
- A visual design-driven project.
During a technology-driven project, the stakeholders focus on the technology that will be used. We often have clients come to us asking for a ‘WordPress website,’ for instance. It’s a well-known tool, so they automatically think it’s a good choice.
But it is the wrong question to ask. How do you know you’ve chosen the right tools and platforms if you haven’t defined your strategy and goals? CMS selection is never the correct initial step.
A visual design-driven project is even more common. Why? Because visual design is sexy, front-facing and relatively easy for stakeholders to understand. They focus their attention on aesthetics and this dictates the project direction.
Most of what makes a website successful is counterintuitive and considered boring (usability, standards, mobile-first design, accessibility etc). People don’t want to spend time and effort on that.
But here's the rub: Visual design is one of the least important factors of website success. Just look at Amazon or GOV.UK. They’re not attractive websites, and yet they’re undeniably successful.
As Stepthen Hay, Author of Responsive Design Workflow says: “Photoshop is the most effective way to show your clients what their website will never look like.”
This may sound like heresy to many. Let’s be clear, we’re not saying that technology choice or visual design is irrelevant — far from it. Rather, it’s not nearly as important as many believe it is and shouldn’t lead your decision making.
3. Goals are not sufficiently defined in advance
One of my favorite questions to ask when speaking to a new client is, “Why do you have a website?”
You’d be blown away by the number of people who don’t have a good answer.
Strategy and goal setting is hard. It requires you to make big decisions with real consequences. That’s why many start with aesthetics and technology; it’s much more comfortable ground. But it is also a mistake.
More on this below, but as the old adage says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
Three strategies to build an enterprise FinTech website the right way
It doesn’t have to be this hard to build a website for your FinTech firm. Consider these three strategies instead:
1. Define user and business goals to set yourself up for success
Jumping into building a website without understanding what you want to achieve and why won’t work. But this doesn't mean you should set arbitrary goals either.
A successful website takes both your business and user goals into account. You could create a website users enjoy, but it doesn’t matter if it never drives business. The reverse is true, too. You could build a website that’s perfectly suited to your company’s goals, but it’s pointless if no one uses it. The balance between your company goals and what your users’ desire is crucial.
Don’t avoid user research and test your assumptions properly. People don’t seem to like conducting research because it nearly always invalidates their assumptions and, therefore, bruises their egos. But you should never assume you know what your users want — even if you are the top marketing executive.
2. Manage your stakeholders by garnering early buy-in
It’s much better to attain stakeholder buy-in upfront. Later on, when they come to you with an idea for your site, you can ask them how it aligns with the goals they agreed to. And since the goals are rooted in objective research and business drivers, you have ample justification for pushing back on their opinions.
If you don’t get early buy-in or aren't clear about what you’re creating and why then you’ll have no ammunition when superiors demand their say. And they will demand their say, forcing you to spend time cajoling your CEO or Head of Sales instead of getting stuff done.
In addition to getting their buy-in from the onset, keep an open line of communication to quell stakeholder concerns before they become an issue and slow down your build.
3. Complete your website project one step at a time
We’ve covered the importance of managing your website project in the correct order. If you only remember one tip from this article, that’s it.
We dive deep into the steps of building an enterprise FinTech website in our guide. But here’s the gist: Nail your strategy down before you decide on your site’s content and features. And design your content and features before you concern yourself with visual design. Finally, once the visual design is in place, you can implement everything, go live, and optimise from there.
But remember, just as you can only decorate a cake once it’s baked, you can only successfully optimise a site on top of a solid foundation.
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