Don’t forget create a checklist when you are creating a new or updating your existing website.

Without a checklist, I know I’d forget everything, let alone the 26 checklist items needed to launch an investment advisor or investment manager site that can create leads. Before I forget, here’s the list:

1. Domain. If you’re a start up or rebranding with a new corporate name, among the first things you may want to do is to choose your domain name wisely. Short, expressive, on-point are keys.

2. Hosting. Who will host your site? There are many to choose from: WordPress, eHost, iPage, HubSpot, lot’s more, some free, some paid.

3. Tech. CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript, and PHP…if you have no idea what these are, just make sure you have tech people who do.

4. Purpose. What are you hoping to accomplish with your site? All strategy and tactics start with you objective. What’s yours?

5. Layout and Color. For layout, you can choose a template and copy, or, using just about any site-building platform, modify to your desire. For a discussion of the psychological impact of color, see “The Psychology of Color: How It Affects the Way We Buy,” from HubSpot.

6. Site Map. The site map is basically an outline of what’s on your website, with links to each page. Google likes site maps, so you should, too.

7. Content. Without content that informs and engages, your site is nothing. Content can take many forms, of course: white papers, eBooks, blog posts, infographics, webinars, calculators, press releases, fact sheets, and for example. The more indexed content you have on search sites, the more opportunities you have to get found online.

Special thanks to Pixaal for developing the infographic below.

8. Audience. Have you created personas for you firm’s target audience? Personas are hypothetical representations of your ideal clients, based on demographics, buying patterns, or psychographics, among others. See here…

9.  Advertisement. Just say no to banner ads.

10. Pop up Message. Do you like pop-up messages that you see on other sites? Many are mere interruptions. Since inbound marketing is based on not interrupting, perhaps you shouldn’t interrupt. One method, however, the “exit pop-up” has helped many marketers increase engagement and lead generation. (The pop-up is that box you see, when you want to leave a site or an page, that may say something like “Subscribe to our newsletter.”

11. Attractive Design. A professional look that meets or exceeds your prospective client’s expectations is, well, better than unattractive design.

12. Buttons. The buttons are those things that usually say “Download Now,” “Subscribe Today,” or “Get Your White Paper.” Bright, contrasting colors that call attention are generally best to getting started in the lead conversion process.

13. Background. Most investment advisors and asset managers prefer a clean and uncluttered white background for their sites. And why not? It adds professionalism, and is easier to read than backgrounds with noisy color.

14. Image. Choose your images wisely, starting with the most critical “hero image” on the home page. The hero image is an attention-grabbing big, high-definition  visual that is your user’s first glimpse of your company and offering.

15. Easy Navigation. If prospects can easily find what they are looking for, they wont ask for directions at the nearest gas station….they will leave your site, and perhaps visit a competitor.

16. Unique. Please be special.

17. Fresh. Frequent updates, in the form of new blog posts, market commentaries, or articles, will help boost your visibility with Google, and give prospects in the pipeline a reason to return.

18. Optimized. Is your site optimized for SEO, with the right batch of keywords, meta tags, and alt tags? And is your site mobile-optimized, meaning is it look and function well on smaller smartphone and tablet screens?

19. Cross Browser. Before launch, make sure your site looks and acts as you want it to on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

20. Screen Resolution. Just make it clear.

21. Social Media. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ are distribution channels for your content – distribution to people who don’t know you yet, but might indeed like you very much, and want to do business with you in the future.

22. Typography. Choosing the right typeface is a critical factor in the design process. Just make it easy to read.

23. Registration. The best way to ask prospects to register their name and contact information is to offer them something of value, in the form s of a white paper, eBook, or complimentary consultation. A call to action with an accompanying lead generation form will lead to leads.

24. Analytics. Make sure to monitor your site for traffic, impressions, entrance pages, exit pages, time on site, and hundreds of other variables, via Google Analytics (a free service) or via HubSpot or others. The most obvious metric is how many prospects turn into clients.

25. Security. As a final touch, your site should have a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The SSL ensures that your client’s data sent between the web server and browser remains private.

26. Footer. Key elements for that thing on the bottom of most sites, the footer, include links to your blogs, sitemap, and other key places where you want prospects to go.