“Not Afraid To Shout”.
As a web design and branding company, that’s our strapline… our mantra, even. That’s what we believe sets us apart.
It means we go the extra mile, we make the extra tweet, blog entry, status update to broadcast your message to the widest audience. It means we use bigger, bolder, brighter, more stylish images and typefaces to grab the attention of the visitors to your website. It means not being humdrum or run-of-the-mill. It means we stand out from the crowd.
In a vast, and still expanding industry, that’s what makes us different.
What is it in your business that you do differently? Of all the competition that you have in your industry, what sets you apart? And how does your website reflect that? More importantly, if it doesn’t reflect that, how can you change it?
1. Start With The Concept
What is your Business? What Makes You Different?
It’s not just the website concept here, but the concept behind your business. If you’re a restaurant, what’s your niche? Are you trying to replicate an authentic Greek Taverna? A bijou French bistro? Perhaps you’re taking the route of molecular gastronomy and want to reflect the science of it all by decking out your premises to look like the meth lab from Breaking Bad.
Ultimately, you’re starting this business it because you believe you know you’re different and you have the will to succeed and make it happen.
Unlike ten years ago, your website needs to be an integral part of that concept and not just an after-thought. Your website will quite often be the first experience that most people have of your business. Your website isn’t just promoting your brand, it IS your brand – or at least an extension of it.
The big question surrounding your concept we’ve: what makes you different? We say this because different is good. “The best…” is a very subjective thing, and in any industry you will be at the whim of the markets and what’s trendy at the time. To one person “the best” beautician is the one who is flexible, affordable, and will visit at the home – one with whom you can build a friendly relationship. To another, it’s the exclusive salon with white lights, crisp sheets, and only designer products.
Who is your ideal customer?
Identifying your ideal customer or target audience is the next big question. You’ve got the “what?” (your business idea), so now it’s about the “who?”. If you’re starting a business, you should already have a pretty good idea of this; and if you’re already running it you should have an even better idea.
Are they over 50? Millenial? Working Professionals? What do they like? What do they read? What do they watch? What do they know? If you’re running a car dealership you wouldn’t pitch to a first-time car buyer the way you would to a mechanic, so when it comes to your website you need to take that into consideration, too.
On one level it makes sense to try and pitch to the widest possible audience, but if you go with the scattergun approach you run the risk of hitting a good proportion of people who simply aren’t interested in what it is you have to offer. It’s a bit like trying to flog a McDonald’s at a vegan convention.
Crafting the text and design on your website to reflect your originality and get the right people to engage with it is the key. Presenting something they’ve seen a dozen times from your competitors isn’t going to make you stand out. Do it a little differently, like your business, and make them take note.
2. Writing The Copy
Following the “what?” and the “who?” comes the “how?” and the “why?”.
How do I speak to them?
Why should they listen?
The aim of the text on your website is two-fold. It needs to be describing the products you’re selling or the service you’re offering in terms that your target audience will understand. The copy also needs to be structured and worded in such a way that search engines can find and correctly analyse and rank it.
Don’t describe the product, solve the problem.
The thing is, as it’s your product/service, you can probably describe or explain what it is you do this with your eyes closed. So far, so easy. But is your audience engaging with it? Are you simply describing your product, or actually selling it?
When it comes to ranking on search engines, keywording is something of a dirty word, stemming from the bad old days when putting “clothes shop Macclesfield” or “web designer Manchester” 17 times in your page would yield a high position for that term. Nonetheless, having those keywords in there is still important. You just have to make sure you’re not putting them in too often, and when you are, it’s got to be relevant.
Listing keywords or descriptive, technical terms is not going to sell your product. People don’t like lists unless they’re looking for a specific piece of information. There’s a reason nutrition information is usually on the back of food packaging rather than the front. The text on the front sells the item with words like “luxurious”, “succulent” or
“extra value”. Now the first two selling points might be worlds apart from the third but they are still, nonetheless, selling points. They’re just pitching at different audiences – remember the “who?”.
Your product, your service, is original. It’s different. You need to tell your audience why. You need to know why that person is coming to your site. You’re not selling a product, you’re solving someone’s problem in your own unique way.
People inherently have needs, whether it’s as simple as something to eat to something more complex like feeling good about themselves. Work out what they’re asking you to do for them, and tell them what they want to hear (as long as it’s something you can deliver, of course).
It’s also important to remember that the copy needs to be updated regularly, and while this may seem a chore it will help keep you up there on the search rankings and give you many opportunities to engage with your client base.
Find Your Voice, Establish Your Tone
It doesn’t have to be “sell, sell, sell”, it can be offering help, sharing insights, talking about a shared human interest. Engagement is about getting your audience to react on an emotional level. You want them excited as they imagine themselves going to town in that new dress, you want them happy because they’ve got a great deal on some phone accessories. People who are emotional will share that emotion – and sharing what gave them that emotion promotes your brand.
A lot of good copy boils down to personality. Personality is individual, and to make your website original, that’s what it needs to have, and it needs to reflect your brand. Answer the question again… “how do I speak to them”. If you’re a lawyer you need to be calm, authoritative, and responsible. If you’re a chef you want to be enthusiastic and excited, passionate about your food in the way that as a photographer you’re passionate about your art and getting THE shot while remaining friendly, approachable, and unintimidating.
Tell Them What You Want
The last thing to remember is to tell people what you want them to do with the information you’ve presented to them. You’ve described it, using select keywords to help them find it. You’ve sold it to them, presenting an idea or solving a problem that they have to generate some kind of emotional response. Now for the Call To Action.
“Buy Now”, “Check Availability”, “Share”, “Get In Touch” – Everything you write is boiling down to this… tell them a story, take them on a journey, speak their language, and you’ll find they’re more than happy to take the next step.
3. Make Your Web Design Your Own
The design of your website, ultimately, needs to combine many of the elements we’ve already spoken about. While concepts and copy are very much human ideas and are speaking very specifically to people, the design of your website still has to adhere to the rules and principles of machines as it’s a laptop, a smartphone, or desktop PC that is displaying it.
The look of your it should reflect your concept and the personality that you have established with your copy. If you specialise in designing dark, gothic clothing then a clinical, medical layout is probably not the right look for you, but at the same time lots of serif fonts and black might be too much like anyone else who is doing the same.
The latest trends don’t always work for everyone, but right now we’re seeing the inventive use of typography and illustration, a breakaway from the boxy layouts from 2014/5 as the technologies improve. More than 51% of searches are now conducted on mobile phones so we’re seeing interesting, intuitive navigation popping up for those devices, too.
Your choice of imagery and colour can lend a real sense of individuality to your site. We’ve eschewed the picture of the latte-slurping hipster in a coffee shop in favour of a tattooed woman with a megaphone and a guy with a Mexican wrestling mask and a suit. We’re big and bold and not afraid to shout.
One easy way you can be original though is to simply do what your competitors don’t, so take a look at them. We did a piece a while back on what restaurant websites should be doing, but aren’t… things like including searchable menus, reliable opening hours, and so on.
If all your competitors are looking quite samey, with similar styles of imagery and layout, go the other way. Make it interesting, show your visitor that you stand out and encourage them to read more. Give it more white space, make the text bigger, make the text smaller, use micro-animations. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s true to you, and something your competition hasn’t done or hasn’t thought of.
4. Get help
Remember that call to action in step 2? Here’s ours.
We’ve talked about our site and how we’re different. We want to do the same for your website, and we’re good at it, and not afraid to shout. Drop us a line today, and let us help you shout, too.