The Importance Of Good Web Design For Online Branding

web design brandingThe online world is a fast-paced environment where users expect the information they’re seeking to be accessed in seconds, with a few clicks of the mouse.  Get them confused with complicated navigation and multiple click-throughs to deeply buried pages and you’ve lost them, for good.

Gone are the days  of slow load times and pages laden with lengthy text and flashy images. Simple, clean and current are today’s web buzzwords and these apply as much to a website’s look and feel as to its content.

Ordering your Information

First things first, you need to get your content in order by assessing and creating your ‘information architecture’. This is the process of organising your website’s content into categories and designing an interface to support those categories. You must have a clear idea of what you want your site to do (e.g., do you need an e-commerce platform?) and what structure the site needs to support this. This is technical stuff so although many off-the-shelves websites exist, if you want a truly bespoke offer, you will need to get the experts in.

Navigating a clear path

Think of your website as a path which can go off in different directions but provides clear signposts to help users navigate their journey. A maze-like website which uses a myriad of menus, drop downs and multiple child pages will get both the user and its content completely lost.

Use a less-is-more approach and stick to a short set of clear, universally acceptable  headings for your global navigation – such as ‘About Us’, Contact Us’ and ‘Our Products’. It’s useful to provide a ‘crumb trail’ at the top of each page so users no where they are and can see an easy route back home.

Branding is Your Best Friend

Your brand is about more than just your logo. It should translate into all aspects of your website, from its typeface and images to page layout. Tone of voice is your brand personified so ensure your web copy speaks in a voice that compliments your product or service too.

When it comes to the nitty-gritty elements of your brand, go back to basics to ensure what works offline works online too.Your logo may need some tweaking so it conveys itself effectively – ask yourself some simple questions: is it big enough, clear enough, bold enough to make an impact?

How about the tagline/supporting text, too much or not enough? Do the colours need sharpening up? Is the image high-res enough? When you chose a typeface/font, ensure it is applied across the site for absolute consistency. Using multiple fonts creates a confused, chaotic feel which creates a poor user experience, and in turn a poor brand experience.

Think about your images too – ideally they should be original and unique, not taken from a stock image source. And a carefully chosen colour palette, with accent tones to differentiate areas of your site  really help create a streamlined, professional look.

Content is King

Content is like a loaf of bread; it gets stale easily. Core content has a longer shelf life, but don’t neglect your web pages once they’re written and assume they can be left unchanged indefinitely. As your products/services evolve, so should your content, which must reflect anything new that’s going on in your business.

content is king

The introduction of a blog, which can be linked from your site or be an integral part of it, is a great way to ensure there’s always something fresh and new. And it also helps you create that all-important brand persona, giving your offering a human voice.

New, fresh content is what’s known as ‘sticky’ – it gets existing and new users hooked on what you have to say. And Google likes it too: regularly updated web pages show you’re offering a valued service to users, so your site is seen as an authority and your search rankings are boosted.

Fresh not Flash

It’s fresh, easily digestible content that counts, so forget slow loading videos and images which frustrate and hinder access to your site. Keep blocks of text short, concise and impactful with paragraphs no more than a few sentences long. Images and pull quotes should be used to break up text and support your key messages.

fresh contentThe temptation is to overload webpages with tickers, pop-ups and rich content but a pared down look which is easier on the eye conveys a more professional, pulled-together look. Of course you should embed video content, add social buttons and make use of side bars to add impact but step back and assess the finished page and remember less is definitely more. There’s nothing worse than a page that looks too busy and tries to say too much.

Remember to Optimise

Once your site is up and running don’t forget to put some effort into ensuring all your hard work is actually visible, and easy to find for your target audience. This is where search engine optimisation comes in.

You may want to get expert help but there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your site gets off to the best start. Firstly, do some keyword analysis using a free tool such as Google’s keyword analyser. Think of top search terms related to your offer (ideally your domain name should also include one of these, so make sure you do this kind of research up front). Using navigation and creating content relating to all these will help Google see that you’re an expert in this field, and start to rank you accordingly.

Getting back links to your site helps boost its authority and shows you are a credible, trusted information source. Setting up social media channels to promote your content is a good way to do this. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube are some of the key channels you should be considering.