If you’re thinking about creating a new website for your financial advisory business, or need to give your current website a much-needed update, there are a few questions you should answer before moving forward.

1. What's Your Budget for Your Site?

Custom websites that meet the latest standards of design and accessibility can have a costly price tag associated with them. Additionally, adding a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to update content on your own, can increase that price even more. A custom brochure website built on WordPress will cost on average between $4,000-$12,000 for professional design and development. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: The Top 7 Website Mistakes Financial Advisors Make.)

In addition to the high price tag, this does not include hosting and ongoing maintenance. While shared hosting can cost roughly $10-$20 per month alone, you will also need to have someone to keep your website running smoothly and keep the WordPress platform up-to-date to avoid security vulnerabilities which are very common with the platform. While you might think this is a worthwhile investment, what a lot of financial advisors overlook is that the average lifespan of a website is 2-5 years. Technology shifts at a rapid pace and you need to stay on top of it, even if your brand or business model doesn’

On the flip side, if you choose to go for a low-cost platform you may be stuck with the standard template, stock imagery, or farmed content for your site. Often times, these solutions do little to engage current and potential clients and require that you sign a long-term contract.

Many platforms, like our own at Twenty Over Ten, bring great design and accessibility into the industry with low-risk, affordable up-front cost (and no contracts). Some even integrate third-party services you may already be using such as eMoney and Vestorly and offer built-in, one-click compliance features.

2. How Quickly Can You Update Your Website?

Do you want to have full control over your website? Or do you want to hand off all the work to a designer/developer?

Keep in mind that if you don’t mind handing off the work, you’ll generally have to wait for the work to be done unless you hired your own full-time designer/developer. The waiting time can vary, depending on the workload and general responsiveness of your contractor. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that any webmaster is aware of strict guidelines within the financial industry and ensure you are playing in-bounds. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: How to Write a Strong Bio for Your Website.)

Ideally, you should have access to easily edit, create through a Content Management System, and manage your website content without diving into the code. Not all users have the same comfort level with technology, but the basic CMS functions of creating/editing/publishing content and adding media are easy for everyone to grasp. There’s a very small learning curve for even the most novice users.

For those of us who are not developers, it’s helpful to have a CMS with in-line editing options. This functionality simplifies content management for all users by straightforward click and type. No more guessing how your content will look.

3. How Do You Get IT Support for Your Site?

It’s Murphy’s law. Many financial advisors are not well versed in the intricacies of HTML, web design, and DNS setup to manage their website. Operating a website can be very administrative. Things such as configuring your hosting services, monitoring it, updating your platform (such as WordPress updates that are issued from time to time), ensuring the updates won’t conflict with your template and plugins, etc.

Ensure you have a support system in place to access or contact in the event you’re having troubles with your website. Those that provide unlimited support to users are very helpful to have immediate access to support teams and designers for questions and emergencies.

While we’re on the topic of security, it’s also a good idea to research if your platform provides SSL certificates. SSL (secure sockets layer), as opposed to HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), is a technology that creates a secure, encrypted connection between your web browser and the website you’re visiting. This feature allows both you and your website visitors feel confident that all visitor information is secure.

4. Is Your Website Ready for a Compliance Audit?

There are plenty of compliance landmines when it comes to your marketing content (including your website content). As a financial professional you are responsible for all of your marketing materials (this includes digital marketing and websites too). There are a number of restrictions that help guide what you can and can’t say as a financial advisor to protect both you and your clients.

In instances where compliance will want to review your marketing materials, you will need immediate access to every change made to your website. Be sure these records are kept, organized, and stored for the future in case of an audit.

5. Who Actually Owns Your Site?

What if you want to move your website? Migrating your website is not a simple drag-and-drop process, even if you use WordPress. Like moving in real life, there is a lot of prep work that must take place and “packing” to ensure nothing is lost in translation. And just like moving in real life, the process can be painful and frustrating at times.

We find it best to own your website content, as well as your domains. That way, if at any point you choose to go elsewhere, you may do so without requiring to register a new domain or have to go through the tedious transfer process. You should always have complete control over where you choose to register your domains. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: 3 Key Steps to Craft the Perfect Online Presence.)

This article originally appeared on Twenty Over Ten.

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