by helen on July 5, 2011

Branding in the online world – getting it right is a must!

I know what I like when it comes to websites – but I usually concentrate on the content, and rarely notice the clever stuff (unless it isn’t so clever, and then it annoys me). So, here are some tips on making sure your website doesn’t turn off visitors from a man who knows a lot about clever design.

Xpand Marketing's Jag Panesar

Jag Panesar is a marketing consultant with a national client list under his belt. He set up Xpand Marketing in 2007 to help businesses become more profitable through simple yet effective marketing techniques. He has numerous areas of expertise with a particular emphasis on design and strategy. Jag has designed web sites with a user focused approach for clients in various industry sectors, see Xpand Marketing’s website portfolio here.

Your brand is so much more than just your logo. Your brand is represented in everything you do as a business (and often as an individual). It’s made up of what people perceive your business to be, so how you communicate has a direct impact on your brand perception.

In today’s business world, when searching for more information on your brand, one of the first things people will look out for is your website. The layout, design, functionality, written style etc will often be one of the first experiences a consumer will have with your brand so you need to get it right.

Here are just a few important points you need to consider in terms of your own website and how it communicates your brand to your prospects:

1. Keep the design simple: less is always more. You may have a lot that you want to say on your site but if you have too much information or a complicated design, users will be clicking on the ‘back’ button quicker than you think. Avoid large chunks of text and use bullet points where possible. People generally skim read websites at first. If they’re interested they will click further into your site and read on.

2. Keep clicks to a minimum. If you have a number of sub pages (ie pages within pages), you need to be mindful of how many times a user has to click before they get to where they want to go. The fewer clicks there are, the more user friendly your site is.

3. Add priority links to your home page. Your home page is often the first page people will see. Whatever links you have on there will obviously get a higher number of clicks; make sure you prioritise the pages you want people to see and give them prominent positions on the home page.

4. What’s your call to action? People visit your site for a reason, to learn about what you can offer them or to buy from you. Make sure you have a call to action always visible on all pages, preferably in the same place (the header is always a good spot). The aim of most sites is to get people to pick up the phone and call you, fill in your contact form, buy online or generally take further action in your direction. If you don’t prompt them, they’re less likely to act!

5. Make your wording clear, concise and easy to read. You don’t have to rewrite the Financial Times to get your message across. In addition to this, you don’t need to be afraid of writing in a relaxed tone. If you’re an SME, it’s likely your personality is a part of your brand. If you can give your writing a bit of your character (without being too relaxed of course!) in addition to what you can offer professionally, you will build a strong brand identity quicker than you think!

6. Link to your social media where possible. Once you’ve set up your Twitter and Linked In profiles (there’ll be more information on this in the next blog in this series), make sure you have links on your website. This way people will be able to easily connect with you via their own profiles. They will also get to see what you’ve been talking about and who you’ve been talking to: another strong brand identity builder.

7. Make sure your pages are consistent. There’s nothing worse than visiting a web site with inconsistent page layouts. If your site has a muddled and inconsistent feel, what does that say about your business and your brand?

8. Always keep your site up to date. If you’re going to add a news or blog page to your site, make sure it is always current. If a user sees that the latest news item on your site is two years old, think about the impact on your brand image. If keeping news/ blog pages up to date is likely to be a problem, a PR agency will happily look after this for you. Alternatively, don’t have these pages at all if they’re not going to be updated frequently! A news page with old items can do more damage than good!

If you like what Jag has to say, why not check out his website, or join him on Twitter. And when you’ve had a look at his site, see how yours stands up to his 8-point test…

Until tomorrow…

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