Content-First CMS Helps Connect Consumers with Financial Advisors

NAPFA app from CQL

How do you redesign a digital experience to enable consumers to better connect with financial advisors? That was the problem we set out to solve for NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors). But where to start? These are the five key steps we took to bring NAPFA out of digital discord and into consumer connectedness.

NAPFA Website Device Display

Step 1: Identify the Problem

In NAPFA’s case, we identified quite a few roadblocks preventing them from providing an effective digital experience. Major issues were rooted in content management, user experience (UX) and platform maintenance. An outdated and unintuitive content management system (CMS) was preventing the team from reliably publishing and managing new content. Another major concern was the user experience of the site. There were no clear user paths and the navigation was hard to follow. Behind the scenes, the overall maintenance and connectedness of the technologies in place were unsettling.

Step 2: Understand the Audience, Data and Platform

Working with key stakeholders, we held a persona workshop to identify the audience, key user needs and existing pain points. We dug into the analytics to understand user behavior and identify top performing content, so we could design a better functioning experience. Once we understood the experience their target audience was looking for, we explored the technology to understand the landscape. We looked at their CMS, databases, custom integrations and third-party services to make sure the new system could either replace or integrate with existing elements.

Step 3: Create a Strategy and Roadmap for Execution

Our discovery revealed many potential directions for improvement, more than what should be tackled at one time. We decided to implement a phased approach to ease the complexity of the rollout. The first phase would center around creating a better user experience with a redesign of the full site, CMS and Find an Advisor tool. We also set out to reduce, what we call, technical debt by creating a new foundation to house the CMS, Find an Advisor tool and conference manager, all within the same platform. This would remove the isolated CMS, isolated Find an Advisor tool and eventually house a member management portal and online store in a future phase.

NAPFA Find An Advisor User Journey

Step 4: Design a Solution that Reduces Pain Points and Creates New Opportunities

For this project, we decided to take a content-first approach. Wait, what does content-first mean? The theory is that if we pay extra attention to the needs of the content creator, we can empower them to create a better customer experience. To aid content production, we also created guides and templates to assist the content team so they can create content in a consistent manner. The editing experience itself is one of our favorite content interfaces we have ever designed. We created an in-context editor, meaning content creators can actually edit content directly on the page rather than working on a backend interface. We even added global modules that allow certain types of content to be used globally.

NAPFA Custom CMS Editing Experience

Step 5: Launch, Learn and Refine

Now that the site is live, we are continuously working with NAPFA to refine the experience as we continue to learn from users. We are excited to see where this new site can take the NAPFA brand, and even more excited about evolving it in upcoming phases targeted toward improving the advisor membership experience.

Read the full NAPFA case study here.