When we work on web design projects, the main goals are, to showcase a product or a service, to make it easy for visitors to learn about an organization, and to make it clear on how to connect with them. These fundamental rules of web design are just that — fundamentals.
With online marketing trends changing so fast year over year, how do you go beyond the fundamentals, stay current, and relevant, so you not only set your business apart from your competition’s, but also truly connect with your customers.
We all know that people don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people, but what if your business is an online business, and there’s little “people presence” on your website, when your customers initially interact with your brand online? What if your website is how your customers find you, and then they decide if they want to do business with “your people?”
First off, if you want to connect with your customers online, you need to make your website as “human” as possible. Does your current website have a character? Does it have a personality? Does it evoke emotions (whichever emotions you are going after with your brand)?
Does your website tell a story?
Storytelling is not a novice idea. Marketing and branding are based on storytelling. Any ad you watch on TV is telling you a story. It’s dynamic, it has a plot, and it has a very valid point of why you should be paying attention to the advertiser’s product. (Because they “know you.”) They know their target audience, and hence they are able to speak your language. They make it easy for you to connect with the story, and relate to the product.
So, how do you tell a story through web design?
Building a website from the initial creative brief, to wireframes and mockups – everything should evolve around one main question – what does a client want to achieve with their website?
Some of the points our clients have brought up during web design process with us:
- We want people to know that we are trend-setters.
- We want our customers to trust us.
- We want to sell our product, and we want our customers to be happy shoppers.
- We want people to know that we deliver an unparalleled quality. Fast.
- We want our customers to feel that they are in good hands, they will be taken care of.
Even though web design is technically a design task, its actual functionality is what drives business, and that’s why starting the design process not with how the site is going to look, but how it’s going to work, is what will serve you as a blueprint for your web design project.
A business’s story begins with the promise to the customers. The promise of what the business would provide to the customers. Telling the story through the site’s functionality is the equivalent of showing your house to a new guest; this is our living room, this is our kitchen, and here’s the bathroom. Similarly, you want to guide your website visitors to the areas you want them to go.
In the example below, Halloween Alley (Canada’s largest independently-owned Halloween retailer with 37 locations across Canada). Their website’s functionality and story is being moulded together through strategic areas like locations map at the top, navigation menu that includes most popular product categories, or a countdown until Halloween. These elements are supporting the vision of the store that provides a Halloween experience.
Visual elements are being integrated in to the functionality of the website. After we told a story of what to expect from this business (what products they sell and where to find them). We are adding the visual layer to support the message in a creative way.
Showcasing their products, while literally telling a story through a visual theme (The Haunted Forest), we are giving the visitors a little sneak peek of what they can find in the actual stores, plus giving some food for thought, as to what story they could tell through their costumes this Halloween.