Eric DeLong’s been working for Manitoba-based Adam Lee Financial for about a year. But you’d never know it if you relied on the company website.

The recent university grad, who earned a near-perfect 3.94 GPA while playing Division 1 hockey at Sacred Heart in Connecticut, still doesn’t appear on the site.

That’s because the site hasn’t been updated in nearly a decade.

Growing up, DeLong heard great things about his parents’ experience with their advisor, Kris Lee of Adam Lee Financial. So once DeLong wrapped up his business degree, he met with Lee and enquired about career opportunities.

“After we sat down I was pretty much hooked,” says DeLong. “I realized I’d have the chance to do meaningful work in an industry that interests me. And I’d have the chance to put my success in my own hands.” After a second meeting, DeLong got the job.

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“It’s been no looking back ever since.”

He represents a generation that thinks a web connection is as vital as a heartbeat. So when Advisor’s Edge announced a search for website makeover candidates, his email hit our inbox faster than a Phil Kessel breakaway.

Many of Adam Lee Financial’s clients, who average around age 50, were established long before websites began playing a role in marketing. The firm’s been in business since 1997.

“My generation relies on the Internet for information,” says DeLong. “As time goes on, our website will have a bigger impact on our ability to market ourselves.”

Kris Lee applauds DeLong’s initiative, and agrees a redesign is long overdue.

Guiding us through the makeover is Cameron Clark, owner of Toronto-based PhantomOwl Digital. He’s polished web presences for big-name brands including Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and women’s clothing line Tribal Sportswear.

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Home page

Here’s Clark’s take: Adam Lee Financial’s site includes stock images of anonymous, smiling people in boardrooms, which can come across as phony. It’s better to use photos of actual staff members. The home page features one such image, but it’s a low-quality shot. Clark says the team should ask a professional to do a staff photo shoot.

“If you’re going to trust people with your money, you want to see that they in turn have spent the money to do things right. If they took a photo with their iPhone out in front of the office, you may think, ‘They’re cutting corners on this relatively low-cost endeavour. What else are they cutting corners on?’ ”

Clark notes the company logo at the top of the page is where it needs to be. “It’s been scientifically proven that when users come to a webpage, their eyes naturally go to the [top] left-hand corner. So that’s generally where you want to keep your branding.”

Studies also show that after starting in the top-left, visitors’ eye movements tend to trace a pattern resembling the letter F. For this reason, Clark says, the site’s navigation options should run under the logo, in a single, straight line across the top of the page.

Adam Lee’s are stacked vertically in the top-right corner, in a tiny font.

Clark says another style that’s had strong feedback is placing the logo in the top-centre, flanked on both sides by navigation options.

Whichever option you go with, keep it consistent from page to page, he adds. Currently, the top section of Adam Lee’s home page differs from the layout on the site’s other five pages.

The company logo can also be improved. Clark says it isn’t necessary to add a fancy crest or icon, though there’s nothing wrong with doing so.

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A font redesign would suffice: “Even though it’s just font, it’s still branding. You can keep it simple, but you want something that looks like a logo.”

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