Creating your own Style
This blog entry aims to be a checklist to help you all formulate a clear idea about what direction you want to take your new website in.
Step 1: Towards a general look and feel
Determine your House Style
Knowing your House Style is important if you want to have a consistent look across all your marketing channels. Your website will need to reflect your identity on all other marketing materials, so that people can easily recognize your brand.
Gather information on the following:
• Corporate colors – colors set the mood of your site (a pink site says something different than a blue site).
• Corporate font – a font can make you strong and solid or gentle and sophisticated.
• Corporate logo – usually you expect your website to feature your logo in the top left corner.
• Corporate slogan – usually featured close to the slogan
Your graphic designer should have supplied your firm with a 'Brand Bible' (or at least an addition to your brand bible in how to handle visual identity) that outlines the above in great detail.
In case you have not been supplied with a bible, ask your graphic designer or marketing department what the house style is.
Determine the goal of the website
The look, navigation and functionality of the site are ultimately driven by what you want to achieve.
Examples of potential goals your website needs to fulfill:
• Offer services to customers
• Attract new customers
• Present a corporate front to the world
• Keep relationships with the press and drive your message
When setting goals, also find out why clients use your site. You will then learn how to meet their goals and make the site more 'user-friendly'.
Evaluate your existing site
• What do customers like?
• What do they dislike?
• What would they like to see?
• Does the site grab attention? Do important messages grab attention?
• Web design
• Communication concepts
• Keywords (SEO related, this topic is discussed later)
Who is your typical customer – it is important to know this, as this will have bearing on your communication strategy.
• How do they think?
• What do they need?
• What are they interested in?
Theme look and feel
• What is the mood or emotion you want to communicate?
Step 2: Content
The two key parts of content is that it should be easy to find, and spoken in clear and informative language.
• Is their a search engine on the site? This can help the visitor find the content he needs from any page.
• Can the visitor find what she needs quickly and easily by using the navigation menu?
• Nothing should be more than two clicks away
• Is it obvious that buttons are clickable?
• What links should always be available to the user?
• Is info divided in logical categories?
• Do you utilize cross promotion? When you know that a user might be interested in one of your related services, are you clearly advertising this related service?
• Is it easy for a visitor to exchange information with you?
• Can a visitor find out how orders are processing?
• Can a visitor get questions answered easily?
• Is their a clear and easy 'contact' option?
• Should your site be more proactive and offer services such as 'chat with a representative' or offer a 'call back' function?
Important if you want to help shape the conversation about your brand. Be sure to offer:
• PR articles
• Press kit (could include:)
• Backgrounder with historical information on the company
• Fact Sheet listing specific features, statistics, or benefits
• Biographies of key executives, individuals, artists (Bart Forbes), etc.
• Past Press Coverage
• Photos or other images of key executives, logos, products, etc.
• Media contact information (usually of a PR department or spokesperson)
Graphics and animation
• Do pages load quickly?
• Do graphics load quickly?
• Do the graphics communicate a concept?
Trust and credibility
Why should the visitor trust you?
• Company and site security info
• Office address and registration
• Terms & Conditions
• Privacy page
• Social proof:
• List Awards
• List Guarantees
• List Affiliations
• List Testimonials
• Satisfy personal interests – people connect to people.
• Short bio's of employees
• Info on founder
• Who's behind the scenes?
• What do the offices look like?
• Fresh news – it shows that the company is current and 'happening'.
Design your site with generating leads in mind
SEO or Search Engine Optimization ensures that you are found by people performing searches on Google. Make sure your site is optimized for search engines.
Convert visitors to customers through CALLS TO ACTION
Visitors are on your site. What do you want them to do? Usually you want one of two things:
1. Have them contact your sales team. In order to achieve this, every page could prominently offer
• A phone number
• A call back service (at a time of the users preference)
• Possibility to chat with staff straight from the site
• A contact form
2. Or, at the very minimum, you want to capture their contact details so that you can market to them in the future. You can persuade visitors to leave contact details in exchange for:
• Info on promotions
• Free downloads
• Special report
• Content that requires a visitor to create an account and login first.
Word of mouth promotion
A visitor may land on your site, but not be interested. However, he knows somebody who might be interested. You want to make it as easy as possible for that visitor to inform his friend about you.
Offer where appropriate:
• Tell a friend button (emails the page to a friend)
• Social Bookmarking buttons
Give incentives to subscribe and for return visits
• RSS blog
I hope this list will help you in making educated decisions about your website design makeover.
Over to you
If you have any questions left, feel free to leave a comment and one of us will be sure to help you. If you want to contact us in private, you can email us or call us on (214) 302-7631.
If you need practical ideas for your website, feel free to ask your questions in our forum.