Tracing the Evolution of Financial Firms’ Home Page Design

Initially more of an advertising vehicle, a company web page today may be a graphically vivid entrée to valuable information.

A public website home page sets the tone for the website experience and forms investors’ first impressions as they research asset managers and brokerage firms online, according to Corporate Insight. The company, located in New York City, provides competitive intelligence and user experience research to insurers, financial services firms and educational institutions , helping them improve their digital capabilities.

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Corporate Insight has released a series of slide decks that look back at different ways financial services firms have evolved in the digital space since the 1990s including tracing the digital evolution of financial firms’ home page design. A few highlights from “Trends in Homepage Design” follow.

From 1996 through 2000, designs used table-based layouts and were text-heavy, with few images. Page hit counters, animated text and moving GIFs [graphics interchange format] were popular. Navigation menus were at the bottom of the page, and the content stressed products and services rather than advertising.

From 2001 through 2006, a static menu of tabs was considered an advanced design structure. The center section of the home page provided links to the main content features. Pages featured “advertisement-focused styles” with JPEG images, flash or GIFs. On the horizon were a shift from a simple symbol search to search via a field in the header, plus the addition of sub-tabs, embedded branch locator tools and more color.

From 2007 through 2011, design elements showcased JavaScript through drop-down menus, advanced navigation pages and web forms. About 33% of these sites provided secondary navigation, and 33% offered multimedia. At this time, news headlines were integrated, as were links to social media pages.

From 2012 through 2015, design trends included responsive design, predictive search, large vibrant images as well as promotion of a firm’s unique business focus and thought leadership.

In 2016, 65% of asset management firms featured a banner image on their home page. Fifty-eight percent included links to fund overview pages, 29% featured a dedicated search field for products, and 58% were responsibly designed.

This year, 53% of asset management firms help investors access fund performance overview pages through fund search tools or quick links. Thirty-three percent provide quick links on their home page.

Emerging design trends the company sees include a centralization of commentaries, funds and tools on while the page provides easy access to other site sections. In the future, it also expects more asset management and brokerage firms to shift to mobile-optimized sites that have responsive design and long-scroll layouts.

For access to the full series of reports, go to