In 2016 websites are more than just a repository of information. Website access allows a company’s clients and prospective clients to read various materials that help gather the necessary information to be able to take the next step. With this fundamental shift in approach, today’s websites reflect a dramatic leap towards interactivity. The modern websites of today are built to achieve specific objectives, include social media integration to directly connect with prospective clients, are simple to use, compliant, and include design features that allow any branding needs to be met. This ensures that websites are no longer left to become obsolete with archaic function and information. Additionally, today’s websites include a variety of metrics that allow users to track their online performance and quantify results.

Websites are built to achieve specific goals with the needs of the company in mind. These goals include brand awareness, client engagement, client support, and lead generation among a myriad of other strategies. Each goal will have a direct impact on a website’s design and overall usability. For example, websites will serve a more marketing-biased purpose, whereas others can be viewed as a portal for existing clients to interact with your company. Websites today also include clearly defined action steps, which includes contact buttons, seminar or meeting registrations, and requests for more information. Current clients may be able to access additional information not available to the general public via private password-protected pages. This saves companies time as general material need not be individually emailed to clients, but rather, all clients can access information in one centralized location. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: Why Advisors Need to Be Wary of Non-Responsive Websites.)

Succeeding in the online world doesn’t end with a simple website. Advanced websites should and often do feature an ability to update social media platforms directly from your website – saving organizations valuable marketing time. Websites now include integrated links to your company’s social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have all become vital tools in the successful function of a company’s public platform.

Social media and a company’s website possess a symbiotic relationship – it represents your brand and value proposition and provides you with a platform to prospect leads and interact with current clients. Social media is essentially a company’s online voice. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: How to Turn Your Financial Advisor Website Into a Remarkable Brand.)

With today’s advanced technology in website design and content management systems (CMS), one doesn’t need to be a computer programmer to update your website. Website design companies have improved their content management systems for users who have no coding language background to use simple text input fields to simplify website production. Users who are familiar with updating Facebook profiles will have no trouble with these systems, saving companies significant expense and furthermore, there should be no need to hire a website specialist for the great majority updates. With that said, leading website developers will understand that not all users are tech-comfortable, and will provide customer support and knowledge bases to help users get on their way (and will not charge extra for the guidance).

Financial advisors today face increased oversight and scrutiny. While technology is here to make life easier, there are always those who take it to the extreme. For example, in 2014 the SEC charged an Illinois-based investment advisor with offering to sell fictitious securities on LinkedIn. In order to mitigate deception and protect clients, IIROC has established a number of policies. Fortunately, one of the biggest compliance concerns – archiving – is built into many website designs customized for financial advisors. Leading website developers include integration for compliance departments, making adherence to IIROC a painless endeavor. (For related reading, see: How Advisors Can Use Inbound Marketing to Grow.)

Website design today is better than ever. From easy to use templates, to custom designs, videos, rotating banners, and the full plethora of colors to choose from, websites today can be built to suit any brand. Technology advancements mean that features that were cutting edge just three years ago, are now easily attainable at a minimal or zero cost.

Finally, analytics can be used to track performance of your website. Many website platforms offer the ability to integrate with Google analytics. The analytics will allow you to find out who your users are, what content they are most engaged in, what browsers they are using, and where they are located. The data generated will then allow companies to find out how to optimize their search engine ranking (search engine optimization), how to build longer interactions with users by developing more relevant content and what areas of your website need improvement. Analytics provide an important feedback mechanism and facilitate decision making so website owners get the most out of their website. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: 7 Critical Website Principles You Should Follow.)

Having an online presence is for many organizations even more important than having an actual brick and mortar office. Is your online front door to your organization enticing people to knock?

-This article was written by Lester Tiro and first appeared on Advisor Websites.