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5 top tips for asset manager websites

By: George Brough


Here at Research in Finance we are running more and more UX testing and Usability testing for our asset manager clients.

This article will give you some elements that asset managers and indeed any business should consider when developing their websites and micro sites.

Do reach out to George Brough to discuss any aspects of this article.

Having a website is an important asset for any business; a website can help a business to grow, to increases revenue, to provide an online presence which can be accessed around the clock (24/7/365), giving us a unique platform to engage with our customers and to develop our company brand… and ultimately to help us achieve our business goals.

However, websites are often an overlooked business asset.

It is important to put considerable thought into your website, when designing, developing and managing your website.

Consideration of these 5 elements will help ensure the success of your website and help it achieve a greater impact and improve its users’ experience and enjoyment.

1. Do User Research & User Testing

Remember, you are not the target user of the website. It is important to carry out in-depth research of your users and to do user testing, through qualitative & quantitative research and through observational techniques.

This in-depth research and testing will assist in identifying the specific users who will use your website, the problems they seek to solve, any pain points and frustrations they may encounter, and how best to hypothesise/or to facilitate a solution to those problems. Ultimately, this research will allow you to better design and develop your website to meet its full potential.

User research is important both before, during and after a website design & development. Comprehensive user testing (i.e. through usability testing, card sorting or interviews etc.) will improve your websites design and ensure any design assumptions/solutions are fully validated, leading to the overall success of the website.

Research & Test, early and often, to ensure success.

2. Plan the Structure & Navigation

Don’t overlook a websites Information architecture; this is the skeletal structure of the website and identifies where content and specific pages will be located.

This can be influenced by the primary navigation, but not all navigation, and has a big impact on the user’s experience. In essence it is the high-level map of a websites structure, its pages, its content and its organisation.

To best design the information architecture, some tips are:

  • Follow tried and tested conventions. Keep with a pattern/structure users are familiar with.
  • Look at your website traffic data (where in your website does a user visit the most) and prioritise this in your structure.
  • Look at your website search data (what are users searching for most) and prioritise this in your structure.
  • Define and plan your website structure based on the above.
  • Carry out user testing; to test the website structure works for your user and where it can be improved.
  • Refine your website structure, and keep refining it if required, to make it simple, intuitive and logical for your user.

Complicated and confusing information architecture (and therefore navigation) leads to user frustration and bad a user experience of a website. Keep it simple, logical and organised.

3. Be Aware of Design Principles

Design principles are universal design truths, and if used correctly, can ensure the website being designed is of a high standard which the user can effortlessly follow and flow through.
Some examples to keep in mind when developing your website are:

  • Perceivability – is your website perceivable? This means users should be able to figure out just by looking at the website what it is, what it does and how they can use the website. It is important to note that a user can’t be forced to learn how to use your website.
  • Predictability – The user needs to know what they will get from your website. Will it achieve their goal? If the website is unclear or confusing, the user is less likely to invest their time on your website.
  • Affordances – Ensure all actions/controls (links, buttons, tabs, check boxes etc) have a strong visual clue to allow the user to immediately recognise how something works, what they should do or what they are expected to do.
  • Follow conventions – Conventions are established ways of doing something, that the user is familiar with, and makes a process easier to follow. Do not force the user to learn new skills, wasting their time if it is not required.
  • Feedback – Provide feedback messages/distinct subtle messages to the user. This can be for actions successfully completed or for actions which remain to be completed. i.e. a cursor to show an input field is to be completed, and specific message or even a tick or cross.

Keep design principles clear, visible and understandable to your users.


4. Don’t Overlook Design Patterns

Digital patterns are useful tools and techniques that make your information/content and user actions stand out. When done well they can help the user flow through your website effortlessly and create a better user experience.

Some examples to consider are:

  • Chunking – a process which allows you to process more data, faster and more efficiently and to allow the information to be memorised more easily. In essence it is when actions/details are sub-divided into smaller more manageable sections making them easier for the user to digest.
  • Alignment – An aligned and orderly interface is easier for the user to understand and follow, and in turn providing an easier and more enjoyable experience for the user. Keep your interface orderly, with a simple flow to its nature i.e. from top to bottom, creating a simple and logical path for the user to follow.
  • Call to Action – every screen on your interface should have a purpose. If the screen requires action from the user, then it makes sense to make this action as clear as possible for the user to allow them to clearly understand what is required of them. A call to action should indicate to the user what they are required to do, and it should tell the user what will happen next. Affordance is key here to make this information clear to the user.
  • Visual Hierarchy – This is a technique to indicate to a user which elements on a screen are most important or that require action. For example, making text stand out or by highlighting an input field.

Keep design patterns simple, structured, visible and understandable to your users.


5. Evaluation

Remember to evaluate your website, and often, does it adhere to user experience best practice or not? Remember, evaluation is not a substitute for in-depth user research and testing, but it can aid in identifying where within your website may be letting you down or not performing well.

Below is a table of important heuristics to consider when evaluation a website and assessing if a website meets user experience best practice.


George Brough

George recently joined the Research in Finance team in 2021 and holds the Diploma in User Experience Design with the UX Design Institute (Glasgow Caledonian University). George is looking to develop his career in Research and in User Experience Research & Design. He supports the qualitative team across multiple projects and assists with the managements of our online communities. George also brings with him his passion and knowledge of User Experience Research & Design. Prior to working in the financial service at Research in Finance, George spent 12 years as a Quantity Surveyor, in the construction industry, managing the construction project finances on various projects from small bespoke housing, historical buildings, to multimillion-pound commercial developments. However, his passion for research and for solving users digital problems lead him to this exciting career change.

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