YOUR WEBSITE'S BONES ARE IMPORTANT, BUT THE FLESH IS WHAT BRINGS YOUR BRAND TO LIFE.
What makes the ultimate website? One might argue that it comes down to a beautiful wireframe and usability. Sure, these things are important to a website's foundation, but usability means nothing if no one has the desire to use your site.
So, how do you create that desire?
The answer: content.
When I say content, I don’t just mean interesting copy. I am talking about design assets like: custom imagery, custom photography, custom video, relevant typography, supportive colour palette... all the things that make up the soul of your brand.
Take any beautifully designed website and strip it of its soul, and you will quickly see why the structure alone cannot carry itself. Take a look at the designs below and you'll see what I mean.
The design on the left is Apple's actual site, while the design on the right is our rendition of the exact same layout without the same attention to brand design.
"...the choice of colours, logos, and images that are consistent with the brand make a huge difference to the end user's experience."
Despite the fact that the bones of both sites are identical in every way, it is clear that the choice of colours, logos and images on the left are consistent with Apple's brand, and make a huge difference to the end user's experience. It's beautiful, easily recognizable, internally consistent and — most importantly — it evokes desire.
The "design" on the right looks like it's been patched together using parts from several different sites, creating the desire to LOOK AWAY! It's what I like to call a “Frankenstein design”. The imagery and type decisions have no common direction, the palette clashes and in the end you're left chained to a brand resembling a monster over which you have no control.
So, how do you avoid creating a monster?
It starts with knowing your audience and knowing who you have to be in order to speak to them most effectively. Every brand should have an authentic and relatable personality through which it speaks to its target audience. Every decision — from copy to visuals — should be created with your audience in mind. Every word, logo, photo, video, colour, typeface, interaction and corner of the design should embody your personality. This personality is the soul of your brand, and sweating the details of getting it right can take a large corporation, like Apple, and make it completely relatable to its defined target audience in a way that is consistent and repeatable.
Here at Ellipsis Digital, we've spent the last year and a half tweaking our own website to speak to our audience in a way that reflects our personality... which just happens to be our portfolio and the patchwork of great personalities and specialized skills that make up our awesome team. Look at the (minimal) palette, (simple) logo and custom photography we've been using on our own site below, and it won't take long to notice that we believe our biggest value proposition is our team and our portfolio. That might sound obvious, but with much of our competition focusing on "what" they have to offer (service-wise), we instead turn the spotlight on "who" we've got to offer, and the proven results they have delivered for our clients. Just look at how those case studies — full of colour — pop next to the black and white photos of our team hard at work, and you'll understand the brand we're building.
So, what should I do next?
We can help with everything from site audits to focus groups, photography and branding. But before you get in touch with us, here are 3 easy steps you can take to start building a more consistent brand (and one that creates desire in the user) right away:
- Take a few screenshots from your website and compare them side-by-side, looking specifically at your fonts and photos. Are you using more than 2 typefaces? If so, you may want to cull a few. Do your photographs speak to who you are? If they’re more ornamental than explanatory, you may want to re-shoot/source with more purpose in mind.
Select a few paragraphs of text from pages across your site and compare them to each other. What you’re looking for is a familiar tone across each example. If it seems like a different person wrote each page, you’re likely sending some confusing messages about who you are to your audience. To help get your team on the same page (literally), take some time to review some writing examples that embody your personality and encourage everyone to emulate that style.
Ask your team what they think of your website. Depending on your team’s size, you’re running the risk of opening a can of worms — but that’s kind of the point. If your team doesn’t feel like your site is a good reflection of who you are and what you do, then chances are you’re setting up potential clients for future disappointment.
Think you've got a monster on your hands?
Art Director "Dr." Andy Ratz is ridding the web of evil one step at a time.