You need to create a bank website. You have a specific “look” in your mind.
Website design has made great strides in recent years.
Anyone can get their website online with free templates, ready-made designs and website builders. Professional designers can focus more on brand voice than counting pixels.
This shift is remarkable in the fast-paced, digitally connected banking industry.
However, a template bank website template is a good starting point for building a bank site. This can help you avoid making poor website choices.
Pre-made templates or templates can be used to help you locate your branch.
Yes, a great building is wonderful. It doesn’t matter if the location, lease terms and expansion options aren’t right for you. It would be foolish to lease or buy a building next to a bank that is large and competing.
The secret to professional web designers is that web pages are HTML and CSS combined with scripts. This means…
Any website template can be created on any web platform.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 6 steps to selecting the right template for your bank website on the right platform. This will allow you to create the design and functionality that you need.
1. Define your needs, budget and assets
With a little editing any template can be transformed into a bank template. This makes them very easy to market and easy to mislead. It is important to assess what you really need, your budget, and the assets that you have.
You have to be there
What functionality is your website required? Does it just need to be a brochure site? Or does it have to be interactive? Is it necessary to be editable? What format should it use to display your location? Are you looking for online banking capabilities? What security requirements must you meet? Are you able to answer customer service questions?
There are no right or wrong answers. However, it is important to think about these issues before you read sales templates.
Although price is powerful, it is important not to only pay for the value of your product but also to pay for what really matters. Consider your bank’s physical location. Where do you save money and what do you spend your money on?
How valuable is a repeat customer? What are you willing to invest in your business? What is the value of your time? How much time will your website save you? What is the value of your staff’s time? How can a website make it easier for them?
There are no right answers, but it’s important to at least think about them before shopping for a design/designer/template.
Although pre-made templates are helpful, the site must be original. Do you have any photography? Are you able to digitize your logo? Are you familiar with the fonts and colors used? Are you able to describe your past, location, policies, and so on? Are you already a member of social media?
There are no right or wrong answers. However, it is important to think about them before being influenced by pretty mock-ups.
2. Understanding Terminology and Options
It can be confusing to understand website terminology. Many companies mix, match, and misuse jargon to market their products. These are the five essential elements you must have a website online today.
Your “address” online is a domain. It is available for lease from ICANN through accredited “domain registrars” for a set period. One can be purchased now and “pointed” to your website later. To make it easier, many website hosting companies also offer domain names for sale.
Your website is composed of computer files. These files must “live” somewhere. Hosting companies lease space on servers that store and serve website files every time someone visits your site.
Modern websites often contain many files. Websites may not always require software (ie. a content management system) to manage all files and make it easy to edit and maintain.
There are many options for website software.
We’ll use WordPress for our purposes.
WordPress powers over 25% of the Internet. WordPress has both its critics as well as its advocates. It’s still the best solution for most banks websites.
Let me tell you, this is the truth. WordPress can be described as a 4 door sedan or light SUV in website software.
It is very popular. It’s also popular because it suits most people’s needs. It is versatile, easy to use and can do so many things. People will say WordPress can be hacked or WordPress is slow. This is similar to someone saying that sedans are more likely to be stolen than semi-trucks or that my Ferrari can beat your Honda Accord off the line.
These criticisms may be true. But not. There are ways to minimize/eliminate WordPress’ shortcomings while still keeping its benefits for building a bank site (i.e. ownership, marketing integrations, etc.).
As we have seen in the introduction, templates are pre-made HTML and CSS. These computer languages allow browsers to create a webpage. Although not essential, good design is almost impossible to create from scratch with mobile devices and other browsers. Every web designer needs a template/framework as a starting point.
There are many pre-made templates for bank websites that can be used as templates or paid for. They can also be bundled with custom design services.
Templates should be remembered one thing. Website templates should be focused on design, layout and content presentation, not functionality.
Plugins, extensions, or apps are software pieces that can be used to enhance the functionality and features of your website.
WordPress’ greatest advantage is its “extensibility”. WordPress offers a wide range of premium and free plugins. These plugins allow small banks to add advanced functionality to their websites. Many bank software providers offer WordPress plugins and compatible scripts that are easily integrated into WordPress-powered sites.
3. Select & Configure Your Bank’s Website Platform
There are many great website platforms. There are many ways to combine, match and mix the five pieces that you need to create a modern website.
This guide wouldn’t be useful if it didn’t help you to find a template and build a website that works.
We have already narrowed down the options for website software to WordPress. We now need to decide where WordPress software will reside and how it will integrate with your templates and plugins.
Two main options are available: WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from the companies listed on this site. All data and opinions are based upon my professional experience as either a paying customer, or consultant to paying customers.
WordPress is open-source software that’s free and can be used by anyone. It is free to download, install anywhere and use however you wish.
Self-host WordPress gives you complete freedom and responsibility. It’s almost like having your own house. You have the freedom to do what you like, but you also have the right to call the plumber.
A good web hosting company is essential for WordPress installation. Hosting companies can offer the security, support and services necessary to minimize the risks associated with hosting your WordPress site.
I recommend InMotion hosting to businesses for several reasons. InMotion Hosting was the subject of my full review.
- InMotion offers excellent support via chat, email, phone and knowledgebase.
- InMotion charges a slightly more to help businesses focus (and not hobby bloggers) instead of just for individuals.
- InMotion offers WordPress auto-install at checkout and an optional, free drag & drop design tool called BoldGrid.
- InMotion offers custom web design services that can reduce the need to search for random freelancers.
Check out InMotion Hosting’s current Business Hosting plans.
The upside: You can download and use any theme or plugin you like if you host your WordPress software yourself. This setup is familiar to developers and consultants. It’s future-proof and saves money over other options.
The downside: Technical aspects are your responsibility. While InMotion offers support and consulting, you ultimately have the responsibility for everything. Self-hosting WordPress isn’t for everyone who doesn’t want to deal directly with technical issues.
WordPress.com is a hosted service that is managed by the original developer of WordPress software. It is an all-in-one package that bundles WordPress software with hosting, support, software, and other services into one monthly plan.
WordPress.com can be described as self-hosting WordPress. This is similar to owning your building. While you can make all the customizations you wish “inside” the building, the maintenance and boring bits of the building are not your responsibility.
WordPress.com is a great choice for businesses. Here are a few reasons why I recommend it.
- WordPress.com is a WordPress-based website that takes care of all speed, security and technical issues while still allowing users to enjoy the benefits of WordPress software.
- WordPress.com’s Business Plan can be expensive but predictable. Maintenance fees will not be charged by a large consultant.
- WordPress.com offers a complete directory of premium templates that can be installed quickly.
- WordPress.com allows you to still install approved 3rd-party plugins. This is great for custom banks websites, especially if they require online banking functionality.
Check out WordPress.com’s business plan.
The upside: WordPress.com users get the most out of WordPress software, without having to deal with any technical issues.
The downside is that you will only be able to use a small version of WordPress. You will also lose some design options and functionality.
The Next Steps
There is no wrong choice. It all depends upon your goals and your needs.
Register for InMotion Hosting’s Business Plan with WordPress auto-install.
Register for WordPress.com’s business plan.
4. Select & set up your bank website template
Once you are clear about what you have, you can start to search for the perfect pre-made template bank for your website.
Keep these things in mind when you shop.
- Don’t pay attention to the logo designs and mock-up photography. A template may only look one way because of the mock-up photography.
- Concentrate on the layout of the template.
- Take a look at more than the homepage. Take a look at the layout of subpages or unique pages.
- Any template can be used as a WordPress Theme. It is better to convert a Squarespace, Weebly or Wix template to WordPress than to just keep the design. This would be similar to choosing your branch or location based upon a pre-built building layout. It is better to pick your building or area and then spend money renovating it.
Templates for WordPress that you can self-host
A self-hosted WordPress installation gives you a virtually unlimited number of templates. These are some places you can look for high-quality options.
- My collection of Top WordPress Themes: These are amazing templates that can create great websites with beautiful photos and colors.
- My roundup of WordPress Bank & Financial Institution themes
- ThemeForest is a large marketplace that sells premium templates and themes. You can purchase, download, and install.
- MOJO Themes is another marketplace that offers premium templates and themes. You can purchase, download, and then install.
- TemplateMonster is another marketplace that offers premium templates and themes. You can purchase, download, and then install.
- WordPress.org Repository – The official marketplace for WordPress templates and themes. All templates can be downloaded and installed directly to your WordPress website.
InMotion Hosting customers will have access to the BoldGrid templates, which have drag-and-drop functionality. Their design services can be used to convert any template to WordPress + your branding.
A WordPress.com Business Plan allows you to upload templates from any of the above sites. You also have unlimited access WordPress.com’s premium templates. All templates have advanced customization options that allow you to edit them.
These can be viewed here.
5. Configure Your Bank Website Functionality
Many theme and template makers combine functionality with design. This can be great, but it can also come with its own set of problems.
You can’t edit a theme that has too many functions. You can edit both design and functionality if you separate them.
WordPress plugins allow you to add functionality.
WordPress is ready to use right out of the box. It only requires very few plugins. The rule of thumb is to have fewer plugins than you need.
Installing the JetPack plugin on a self-hosted website is a good idea. It provides security and backups, as well as other fun features like contact forms and sharing buttons.
I have also written a list of the top WordPress plugins, which includes Google Analytics and Redirects.
Banking functionality is now available.
It is crucial to clearly define your needs. It is easy to add to WordPress things that you and your visitors don’t need. However, online banking is a highly specialized industry and requires strict security measures. Here are some great resources to help you find the functionality that your banking website requires.
- WordPress.org Repository – The official repository for plugins. You can search for specific functionality. Note the rating and number of installations.
- ThemeForest is a great source for premium plugins across all industries.
- Bank Software Providers – WordPress is a very popular CMS. Your favorite software providers will probably integrate with WordPress. Do a Google Search!
6. You can refine your design and content
Once you’ve got your design and functionality set up, the fun starts.
It doesn’t matter if your website is an informational or brochure site, or a dynamic and constantly updated site, maintaining, revising, and editing are all part of the process.
Although it doesn’t have to take too much time, a website that is well maintained and updated regularly will be a great one.
Editing your Design
This process should be easy using WordPress + a great template. BoldGrid by InMotion adds drag-and-drop functionality to WordPress. WordPress.com’s Customizer allows for easy click and edit customization.
This guide will explain how WordPress themes work, and also show you the WordPress Dashboard.
Remember to include the features your customers desire when designing and editing your website. Visitors might find it frustrating if they don’t like the look you choose.
Your bank’s location pages and online banking capabilities should be a top priority. Mobile devices are most likely to be used by your visitors. This means that you need minimal content, an easy log in process, and minimal navigation (or apps functionality).
Marketing your Bank Website
Ahh, now for the fun part. There are no right or wrong answers.
Here’s the problem. Without a website, you can’t build a lasting brand. Social media networks change. A good website is one that you own.
You can position your website for any future events if you keep your best customers in mind and find out how they found you.
This topic is covered in my guide for planning a local marketing strategy.
Take the time to assess your needs and budget.
If self-hosted WordPress is what you need, then a Business Hosting Plan includes WordPress auto-install.
You can purchase a WordPress.com business plan here if you are looking for bundled WordPress services.