Best practices and a point of view on how Nuveen

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Global Wesbites - Asset Management Firms

Overview

To identify best practices in website structure for global asset management firms, we looked at the websites of Blackrock, PIMCO, Blackstone, and Fidelity, as well as their main competitors. In this response, we will present whether the firms have multiple location-based websites, regional websites, a single global website, or any combination of these to identify best practices for website structure for a global asset management company.

Global asset management firm websites

We will review the websites of Blackrock, PIMCO, Blackstone, Fidelity, and their top competitors. Blackrock's top competitors are Legg Mason, State Street, and UBS. Blackstone's top competitors are KKR, The Carlyle Group, and Bain Capital. Fidelity's top competitors are Principal, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard. PIMCO's top competitors are Legg Mason, Blackrock, and Fidelity.

BLACKROCK
Blackrock has 35 country websites as well as an international website non-specific to any country. When entering the site, users must select whether they are an Intermediary, Institutional Investor, or Individual Investor.

PIMCO
PIMCO has a global site in addition to several sites grouped by region. There are 20 country sites within these regions as well as Latin America and Europe regional sites. Some sites request that users identify their role as an Intermediary, Institution, or Individual, but not all request this information.

BLACKSTONE
Blackstone only has one global site for all its customers. It offers a map that shows its global office locations, but there are no location-based or regional websites.

FIDELITY
Fidelity's main website is only intended for use by persons in the United States. It offers 12 country websites and an "other regions" option which appears to be a broken link. To access the main US site, one must choose from the following roles: Financial Advisors, RIAs, Retirement Advisors, Gatekeepers & Analysts, Institutional Investors, Consultants, Liquidity Managers, SIMPLE Plan Sponsors, and Individual Investors.

PRINCIPAL
Principal offers a list of websites for its wholly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures, but it does not have location-based or regional sites for its main company. It has one main website for its entire customer base.

T. ROWE PRICE
T. Rowe Price separates its websites into three regions: Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Within these regions, there are 29 country websites to choose from.

VANGUARD
Vanguard separates its websites into three regions: Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Within these regions, there are 25 country websites as well as 2 regional sites for South America and Caribbean & Offshore. Vanguard also has a global site non-specific to any region or country. Some country sites also ask if a user is an Individual Investor, Financial Adviser, or Institutional Investor.

LEGG MASON
Legg Mason offers 26 country websites along with one regional website for the Nordics. It also has an Americas International site which appears to be both an international site and a site for the Americas.

STATE STREET
State Street has 16 country-based websites in addition to its global website that serves as the US site as well. The company has office locations in more countries than for which it has location-based sites.

UBS
UBS separates its sites into five regions: Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America & Caribbean. Within these regions, there are 46 country-based websites. UBS also provides the locations for its country offices as well as the sites. UBS also operates a global website in addition to its location-based sites.

KKR
KKR offers what it calls "international sites" which are titled English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. These sites are in the language that they are titled, but not specific to a certain country. It also has a map of all its office locations, but not sites for these locations.

CARLYLE GROUP
The Carlyle Group also lists its office locations around the world, but it does not have any country or region-specific sites. It operates one global site for its entire customer base.

BAIN CAPITAL
Bain Capital also lists its office locations around the world, but it does not have any country or region-specific sites. It operates one global site for its entire customer base.

Conclusion

Blackrock, PIMCO, Blackstone, Fidelity, and their competitors use their websites differently when it comes to how many location-based and regional websites they offer. Blackstone, Principal, Carlyle Group, and Bain Capital all have only one global site for their entire customer bases. Blackrock, PIMCO, Vanguard, Legg Mason, State Street, and UBS all use location-based and regional sites and offer a global site as well. Fidelity and T. Rowe Price offer location-based sites exclusively. KKR does not offer sites based on location or region, but rather by language. PIMCO, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, and UBS all categorize their location-based sites by region. PIMCO, Vanguard, and Legg Mason all include a few regional sites with their location-based sites.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Global Websites - Consultancies

Below is a list of best practices as it relates to website structure for global management consultancies. No information is available that relates only and specifically to the website structure of a global management consultant with multiple customer bases. To get at this information, I first included the location structure of the top 10 global management consultant firms in the world (as it relates to revenue from 2017). What follows is information as it pertains to best practices for content and layout of a management consultancy website, best practices for B2B and professional services websites, and best practices for global and multilingual websites.

TOP 10 GLOBAL Management CONSULTANT FIRMS

Please note, this list is inclusive of the top 10 global management consultant firms as it relates to reported revenue from 2017:

1: PwC — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, but doesn't have regional websites available. You are able to navigate to each location (country) through a location search bar on the top of each webpage.

2: Deloitte — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, but no regional websites are included. You are able to navigate to each location (country) through a dropdown menu on the top of each webpage.

3: Ernst & Young — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, but no regional websites are included. You are able to navigate to each location (country) through a dropdown menu on the top of each webpage.

4: KPMG — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, with the ability to navigate to country websites utilizing a regional dropdown menu. However, no regionally-specific webpages are available.

5: McKinsey & Company — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, with the ability to navigate to country websites by going to their locations page, utilizing a regional dropdown layout. However, no regionally-specific webpages are available.

6: Boston Consulting Group — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, utilizing a dropdown menu on the top of each webpage. The only regionally-specific webpages that are available are for Greater China (EN), and Greater China (ZH).

7: Accenture — includes location based sites in addition to their main site, but no regional websites are included. You are able to navigate to each location (country) through a dropdown menu on the top of each webpage.

8: IBM — includes one central page for all global locations, with no country or region-specific webpages.

9: Microsoft DMC — includes one central page for all global locations, with no country or region-specific webpages.

10: Booz Allen Hamilton — includes one central page for all global locations, with no country or region-specific webpages. However, you are able to view locations of individual countries within regional dropdown menus, but it only lists the address locations of each country, no specific country website.

Given this information (7 out of 10 top global management consultant websites have separate country sites), it is safe to conclude that it is highly beneficial for a global management consultancy website to include location-specific webpages for each country they service, while regional-specific webpages don't seem to be pertinent to a successful consultancy firm.

BEST PRACTICES FOR A MANAGEMENT CONSULTING WEBSITE

Below are best practices as it relates to a management consulting website. While they don't pertain specifically to the structure to the website, they do highlight overall design and content best practices.

COLOR DESIGN
Blue is a popular color for business website templates, as it not only implies discipline and the ability to complete daily tasks, but "it is associated with power, confidence, stability, and authority (military and police uniforms are often dark blue)."

Clean color schemes (minimalist layouts) with a light background is an ideal choice for a management consulting website, as the light (or white) background can easily be combined with other colors, including the brand colors of the company. Further, it helps to have an assorted color background for each section of a website. For example, United States may be a light blue background, while the United Kingdom is a light orange, and China is a dark blue. This helps the user realize they’ve navigated to a different content page. Along those lines, including diverse backgrounds for different content within the same webpage is beneficial for the user to locate information quickly, e.g. dark blue behind the contact information, and medium blue behind the overview section. Psychologists suggest that "it takes someone about half a second to form their initial opinion of you", so it's important that the first colors and layout a user sees can have a positive effect on their opinion.

CONTENT
Beyond the basic pages that every management consultancy website should include (about us, contacts, services, location, homepage), other ideas include current and potential clients, current and potential partners, job seekers, and investors. Including a page of consulting services, with easy-to-read and succinct information (e.g. bullet points) of your services allows users to easily understand what you offer, without having to browse through pages of text. Further, "if you don't prove your value within 10 seconds, most [users] will leave and go elsewhere", so you want to be sure to give your visitors a reason to stay on your page once they've landed there. The average visitor "will only read about a quarter of the content on any given page." In other words, make sure you're providing the most relevant and eye-catching content at the top of each page.

Below are a list of best practices (three) as they relate to generating the best content for a management consultancy website.

1: "Firms That Intelligently Integrate Thought Leadership Into Their Corporate Website Generate More Leads"

For your user to really consider utilizing your business, it is important for them to not only see that you have the expertise to get the job done, but that you are staffed with fully capable individuals to carry out your needs, with past-experience successes to back it up. It’s suggested to utilize the 3P’s (perspective [thought leadership], people [bios], and projects [past-experience]). It’s important to showcase these items in a way that allows the user to see these items directly on the page with ease of reading, without having to search through multiple pages on site for understanding.

2: "Firms That Gate Very Little Content Generate More Leads"

While it isn’t suggested to gate all your content, as that can have a negative effect on your business, since users won’t want to give their information for basic understandings, gating some of your content “can actually improve lead generation.” For example, a website studied showed that with less than 5% of their total website content gated, over 75% of their leads were generated from that gated content.

3: "Firms That Use Interactive Content Generate More Engagement With Their Sites"

Creating content that a user can interact with, that is customizable to their personal needs, is crucial for a successful website. For example, utilizing data visualization that allows your users to filter data as it relates to their interests, and then compiles that data into a visual graph for further understanding, is a wonderful way to increase your user engagement on site.

PROFESSIONAL B2B WEBSITE BEST PRACTICES

As no information is available as it specifically pertains to website best practices for a management consultant with multiple consumer bases, below is information as it relates to best practices for a professional services website. I found this relevant to include, as it can be tied in with professional services offered by a management consultancy website.

1: PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS, BIOGRAPHIES, AND CREDENTIALS
To create a connection with your audience, it is recommended to include professional information about your leadership and team. Be honest and upfront with your users, and tell them why working with you is the best option (avoid buzz phrases “such as ‘results-oriented’ or ‘proven-success’”, as these are impersonal statements).

2: TRUST SYMBOLS OR THINGS THAT INDICATE CREDIBILITY
Show your users why they should trust you. If they know nothing about your firm and are visiting your site for the first time, why should they trust you? Customer testimonials (with real photos and names of people) is a wonderful way to build trust with your potential customers, as well as show examples of specific companies and projects your firm as successfully completed in the past. Linking to graphs and project overviews is a fantastic way to showcase your success.

3: EXAMPLES OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN THEIR GIVEN AREA
Include things about your leadership team that go beyond their work with the company. Have they spoken at national or international conferences before? Have they written any books or published studies on their work and expertise? If possible, include a small clip of your leadership speaking at a conference.

It’s vital that your site content is constantly and consistently being updated. If your most recent project example you’ve listed as a success if from five years ago, consider adding updated successes (within 1-2 years) that show your continued expertise in your field.

5: GEAR YOUR WEBSITE TOWARDS PEOPLE
Remember who is reading your website. Try to keep your tone as conversational (yet still professional) as possible. Filling paragraphs full of potential words for SEO, or filling space with buzzwords can be a turnoff to potential customers, as it doesn’t connect with them on a personal level. Further, make sure you have mobile versions of your website that are consistently monitored for correct projection on phones. More and more people are utilizing their smartphones daily for business, and it’s important that they can access the same information on their phone as they could on a desktop.

6: ASK FOR ACTIONS FROM YOUR VISITORS
Create a call to action within your website, such as requesting further information, or a consultation with your firm. This will help with your leads of those seriously interested in doing business with you.

BEST PRACTICES FOR WEBSITES WITH GLOBAL REACH AND/OR MULTILINGUAL WEBSITES

As previously stated, no information is available as it relates to specifically global management consultancy websites, so I've included best practices for B2B websites that reach a global audience, and in most cases, are also multilingual.

BEST PRACTICES FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AND MULTILINGUAL WEBSITE

1: "Utilize a multilingual CMS"
By utilizing a multilingual CMS (content management system), your users will be able to select which language they’d like to view the content in. Investing in a multilingual CMS will also make content management changes down the line streamlined and easier to complete.

2: "Use a professional translator"
After a multilingual CMS is established, it is important to make sure your content is being translated using a professional translator. While Google Translate, for example, is quick and cost-efficient, the translations are not always accurate, and can misrepresent translated text and data. Instead, it is suggested the company hires a professional translator who can speak and write the language in question fluently, as well as has an understanding on the context of the language within the culture.

3: "Research necessary legal jargon for each country"
If you are utilizing a multiregional website (i.e. a website that will identify the geographical location of your audience utilizing their IP address, and then serve them the correct web version), it is important to do preliminary research on that country’s legal nuances. Ensure that you have set up each site as it pertains to the “legal, technical, and administrative requirements that may be applicable” to each country.

With international domains, make sure you are registering them ahead of time. If someone else registers the company’s domain name abroad, “it can be difficult or impossible to obtain it.” This goes beyond a domain name with “.com” at the end, and is inclusive of top-level domains, such as “.net, .biz, and .info.” Further, some countries have country-specific top-level domains (e.g. co.uk in the United Kingdom, or .ca in Canada"), and should also be registered ahead of time to avoid complications down the line. Ensuring you do your research and registration ahead of time will allow for a seamless experience when building out your international website.

When designing a global website, it's important to keep in mind the following layout and content suggestions, in order to reach your target audience at an optimal level.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A GLOBAL TEMPLATE
Utilizing a global template will ensure your users have a seamless and consistent user experience across country websites, and is especially beneficial for clients and partners who work across numerous countries. If a user is on the United States page, and the partner information is on the left rail, it’s important to keep that consistent to say the Sweden page, as the user won’t have to relearn any navigation from country to country.

WHEN DESIGNING FOR THE WORLD, LESS IS MORE
“The global template should be thought of as an underlying infrastructure for the web design.” Try to avoid using culture-specific images, as certain fashion or poses in models could have negative connotations in one country, but not another Further, ensure that the navigation is relevant to all countries, and doesn’t include country-specific offerings (e.g. should only include top-level pages such as “about us, products, and services”).

KEEP IT LOOSE: DESIGN FOR TEXT EXPANSION AND CONTRACTION
As it relates to a previously noted best practice, utilizing a professional translator is preferred over software such as “Google Translate”. For example, “Welcome Home” would be translated too literally with Google Translate for languages such as German and Russian, so that the string of characters involved becomes too long for the website template. Bringing in a professional translator will ensure that each translation is done with the lowest degree of expansion possible.
It’s recommended that the website can allow for text expansion by to 30% to 40% “when going from English to German, which is one of the more extreme examples of text expansion.” 35% is the target expansion percentage you want to aim for. If discussing text within a menu dropdown, it’s recommended to leave space for up to 40% expansion (e.g. the word “search” translates to "Rechercher in French, and is almost twice as many characters).

KEEP IT LEGIBLE: DESIGN FOR DIFFERENT FONTS (AND SCRIPTS)
It’s important to test fonts during translation testing, to ensure that enough room available for text expansion. For example, Chinese fonts need to be displayed “at a point or two larger than Latin-based fonts”, in order for the user to easily read the characters.

KEEP IT TEXT-BASED: DESIGNING FOR MACHINE TRANSLATION
In the event machine translation is used over a professional translator, businesses need to ensure that their website has text that can be read by machines. For example, if text is utilizing Flash, or “embedded within visuals”, Google Translate will be unable to translate the text.

KEEP IT MODULAR: DESIGN FOR MOVEMENT
Ensure that your website can account for the need to move the layout around, as it relates to languages that don’t read from left to right. For example, Arabic reads from right to left, so the entire webpage will need to be capable of flipping the order of the content to accommodate the readers.

SUMMARY

As a review, best practices for a global management website should include providing separate site for each country, however regional websites are not necessary. Content and layout are extremely important for first impressions, as well as ensuring that your site can accommodate languages that don't read left to right. Utilizing a professional translator will ensure that your customers are reading text that isn't misconstrued due to translation errors by a software translator.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

Global Websites - International Firms

When it comes to producing a website for an international company, there are multiple approaches that can be used. Generally, international companies can structure websites in one of two ways: sites that are corporate-centric or sites that are region-centric. Each decision breaks down further into different ideologies and methods for building. Before making a decision, it is important to understand the reach of a company before investing too deeply in the wrong model. Below you will find a breakdown of the different considerations for international business websites, as well as examples from five different companies and the methods that they use.

Region-Centric Model

Region-centric — also known as multi-regional — websites are especially helpful for businesses that offer different products for different regions. In general, such sites usually have a single, global address, but then branch off into individual websites that support languages and associated currencies for different countries or regions.

When a business offers different products in one region that are not available elsewhere, this model proves extremely applicable. Product pricing and descriptions can be depicted in that region's language and currency, which in turn will make the information more widely available to users. In addition, marketing techniques that are more pertinent to a group of people from one region can be used on regional sites. This is not something that can be done on a global or international site.

Multi-regional/region-centric website models often use the IP address of a user to automatically direct them to the regional site corresponding to their geographical location. This often makes users more inclined to stay on a site and view the information, since it will correlate with their respective language and currency without any extra work involved by the individual.

In addition, companies that utilize regional websites will sometimes purchase foreign domain names in order to personalize the information to a specific country. This can sometimes be difficult, as every country has their own legalities behind obtaining country-specific domains. For example, in Australia, in order to obtain an Australian domain name (ending in .au) a company or individual must have an Australian registered company or trademark. Other countries require businesses or individuals to be citizens of the country in addition to the previous requirements.

Corporate-Centric Model

Corporate-centric website models prove applicable for companies with common global offerings. The content offered by a company that uses this model is generally the same regardless of customer location, so only a single, global website is usually required. However, content through this model, while produced at a corporate level, is often adapted to countries and regions through language and currency, just like the region-centric model. The only difference is that this is done through the same site, rather than through redirection to other websites.

70% of the world's population does not speak English, so it is helpful for global websites to offer users the option to choose a language preference. Oftentimes, in choosing a language, currencies are automatically converted to that of the location selected. Websites that utilize this model will have some sort of method that either translates the page to a user's location based on their IP address, or allows users to select their country or region of choice for language and currency preferences. Doing so does not change the website in any way, just the language and currency.

Through this model, prices are always translated to user-specific numbers, and oftentimes, too, credit cards are accepted for automatic transfer of funds to a company's preferred currency. This permits businesses to complete transactions with customers around the world with no extra difficulties.

Comparative Analysis: Similar Companies

In order to help determine what method to use when building a website or websites for an internationally applicable business, it can be helpful to compare with other similar businesses. For example, what method do they use? Is their method successful? This can be determined not only by examining their website(s), but also through tracking their website analytics. If a company has a single global website and is not receiving heavy traffic, it may be possible to assume that this method is not successful for them. The same idea goes the other way around, too.

Consider if it would be helpful to target customers based on region or by language. If the products and services offered are applicable on a global scale, then a corporate-centric model is likely more helpful. However, if the products offered are dependent upon a customer's location, then regional models and websites would likely be more successful. To ensure that this is correct, comparing how other companies represent their services can be helpful.

In addition, by comparing how your company's website is stacking up against other similar businesses and their online sites can prove helpful. If you are using a corporate-centric model and are not seeing much success, but others are using regional models and are having a lot of traffic, then it may be of help to consider switching methods. By comparing your website with other similar businesses, a fuller understanding of what could work can be understood.

Example Companies

Below you will find an overview of five different companies and their online websites. Each company utilizes a different model based on the range of the products that they offer, and some do a great job while others seem to struggle. The methods of language and currency changes for each site will also be explained.

APPLE
Apple utilizes a mixture of both the region-centric and corporate-centric models. For the most part, Apple retains the same, global website for each region that their products are physically offered in through stores. The main website is automatically translated into the language and currency of a user based on the geographical location of their IP address. From there, users can make purchases online in their own currency, or be directed to nearby stores. Users can also manually select a region and language/currency by selecting the flag icon that appears on the bottom right corner of every page within the global site. For a few countries, mainly in the Asia-Pacific regions, the global site adds a little flair by introducing a photo at the top of the page taken by someone in the region on the iPhone X. However, the remainder of the site remains identical, with the content being the same regardless of location.

TESLA
Similar to Apple, Tesla utilizes a corporate-centric website model, where users are automatically directed to a web page in their language and currency based on their geographical location. Users can manually select other regions or languages by selecting the flag image at the bottom of each page. Regions correlate to locations in which Tesla has physical locations. The website remains the same, regardless of location chosen by an individual, right down to every picture and word.

NIKE
Nike websites are dependent upon the region-centric model. At first, when entering the Nike site, a pop-up automatically appears that shows an American and Chinese flag. Users can choose one of the two flags, and from there, the web page is directed to a regional page based on the flag chosen. However, there are further options for users to choose different regions and countries. At the upper right-hand corner of every web page, there is a flag showing the current region chosen. Upon clicking the flag, options appear for users to choose from the following regions: North America, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. Upon choosing a region, specific countries and their respective flags then appear for users to choose from, which correlate to locations in which Nike has actual stores. This directs individuals to entirely new web pages with content relating to their chosen country. Different photos, marketing techniques, products, website layouts, languages, and currencies are utilized for each country chosen.

FORD
Ford is an example of a company that attempts to utilize the corporate-centric model, but does not do a great job of it. When entering the webpage for Ford, there are only two options for region/language: English or Spanish. While the web page remains the same regardless of the language chosen, there is not a wide array of languages available. Perhaps the company only offers their products through physical stores in the North and South American regions. However, companies that offer their products on a global scale will, at least, offer multiple languages or regions to choose from.

NINTENDO
Nintendo heavily utilizes the region-centric model, producing an entirely different web page for every region offered. There are multiple countries available to choose from within each region, and the web page layout and information remains relatively similar, aside from language changes, for each major region. Different images, organization of information, and marketed products are used for each region. Users can change regions by selecting the flag in the upper right-hand corner of every page, which correspond to countries that Nintendo products are sold in.

Conclusion

The structure of an online website for a company is largely dependent on how their products are offered. Companies that offer the same products regardless of customer location should choose a model that utilizes the same base website for all regions, but translates into a wide array of languages and currencies. However, if a business offers different products in different regions, then a region-centric approach, with different pages for different locations, is more helpful. By comparing with other companies and their success with each model, it is easier to determine the best method for an international business to choose from.
Sources
Sources