Years ago, it used to be that the design of an IR website was pretty far down on the priorities list. Providers and clients alike focused almost entirely on meeting regulatory requirements, populating the right content, and ensuring that shareholders and potential investors could grab what they needed quickly and move on. There was a standard formula for the IR Homepage in particular which nearly always included left hand side bar navigation, share price front and centre, and a long (read: uninspiring) paragraph of text about the company. Job done, right?
But somewhere along the way, we realized that investors and analysts are people too - people who surf the whole rest of the modern Web and who, just like anybody else, expect to have an emotional response when they come to your website. No longer content to stop by for a glance at the stock quote & chart as they breeze through to download your latest Earnings report, investors and analysts have come to expect that - just like any other website - your IR website will tell your story in an engaging, interesting way. And the best way to tell that story is by incorporating modern design trends and tactics to create the emotional reaction in your viewers that's been sorely missing in the past.
Design, then, has rocketed to the top of the priority list when companies are creating or updating their IR websites. Whether you're about to IPO and are building your IR web presence for the first time, or if you are considering an update or refresh of your current IR website, it can be helpful to know about the three main tracks the design process for your site can take, as these have a direct impact on your budget and how you'll need to engage with your provider.
Match the Corporate Website
By far the most commonly deployed tactic is to simply match the look and feel of the IR Website to the rest of Corporate Website. This offers a seamless experience for the viewer and ensures your entire online presence is aligned in terms of branding. This also tends to be the most cost effective option, as most providers will include this option as part of their standard setup package. Your provider will ask you to provide the template & style sheets sitting behind the rest of your site, stand up your IR pages aligned with that, and off you go.
The downside to this tactic is that it's entirely dependent on the design of your wider corporate website. So if your company's overall web presence hasn't had a refresh in a few years, the net result will be a stale, out of date design for your IR website.
Choose a Design Theme
The second option - choosing from your provider's library of themes or templates - is ideal if your corporate web presence isn't compelling from a design perspective, or if you're looking to drive improvement to the wider site's design with a compelling, engaging IR section. As you can see from West Digital Communications' Website Design Library, these themes incorporate the most recent best practices and trends in web design, and at the very least can get the wheels turning for your team if you're opting for something more custom.
This option is typically very cost effective as well, as most providers will charge only a small amount for the implementation and build out of your choice of design. Whether you plan to go this route or not you should always ask your provider for the link to their design library - the stock themes in their library will give you a strong indication for the design capabilities of their team and their platform.
Design from Scratch
Last but not least, is your most expensive but most custom option, which is a completely bespoke design from the ground up for your IR website. While not as common, this tactic ensures a unique website, personalized to your brand, your story, and your needs. This tactic can be deployed with great success - as Radisson Hotels did to support the launch of their new brand - but brings with it additional costs for design and development, and can often stretch out over a longer time frame, depending on how many stakeholders are working on the project. The net result is a highly custom, truly compelling web experience for your investors.
The process to launch or redesign your IR website can feel like a daunting one - especially if, as an IR professional, you don't have a lot of experience with "design." By taking a step back from the specific design trends and tactics you can use to draw investors into your site (we'll cover these in our next post) to look first at the approach you will take with regards to the site's design, the project can begin to take shape more easily. Choosing the design option that's right for your brand and your budget will put your new - or your newly redesigned - IR website on the right track from the start.
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