If you have a business, run a nonprofit organization, or manage a community group you need a website.
Websites are a normal cost of doing business these days, and one of the most influential ones by far. It’s often the first place people look to learn more about what you do or see who they might be working with. It should be thoughtfully crafted and an accurate representation of your brand identity.
Make Your Website Stand Out by Being Authentic
We know this struggle intimately. We spent the better part of last year redesigning our own website and investing a lot of time into our content. We wanted to create a site that made it clear to anyone on it who we are, how we operate, and what’s important to us.
But enough about us, your website should really focus on your potential customers. What do they need, and how can your product or service help them? Is your site easy to navigate? Is it pleasing to look at and does it evoke the right sentiment?
The important thing is that you talk to your reader about what you can do for them but in your authentic brand voice. Don’t try to copy a competitor’s site because you know it’s attracting customers. You’ll attract great clients for your business in time by being clear about what your values are and how you do business.
Embrace your uniqueness—it’s your secret weapon. Don’t shy away from your eccentric sense of humor, own it.
Being authentic and confident in your brand identity and voice will resonate with other like-minded people and that’s where the magic happens.
We always recommend hiring professionals to do work that’s outside of your personal wheelhouse. But if you want to give it a go in-house, we can help get you started with our content writing development guide.
Develop Your Company Voice and Persona Before You Start
Before you start writing copy and designing the look, spend time with your team to really craft a clear tone and voice guide. How does your organization speak? What cadence do you use? Think about word choice and sense of humor (or lack of one).
Your content tone should match both your business style (how you and your team operate and interact with clients) and what services you provide. For example, a whimsical tone maybe isn’t the best choice for divorce attorney services. Tone and voice should also match your culture, so don’t present yourself as a super straight-laced company if your culture is light-hearted.
Translating all of this information into a hypothetical persona can be really helpful. Do you have the tone of a knowledgeable professional in their 60’s at a formal business meeting? Or is your tone more like a supportive friend in their 40’s casually chatting with you at a coffee shop? You should only have one company persona. You may have several customer personas (individuals you’re selling to), but your brand shouldn’t have multiple personalities.
Your Website Should Look Professional
When I say “make your website look professional” I don’t have any specific formatting, design, or style in mind. There is no “right way” to make your website professional from an aesthetics perspective.
What I mean is that it looks current (not from a decade ago), is up to date (doesn’t have a team picture where half the staff no longer works there), and functions properly. It loads quickly, images and maps aren’t broken, buttons and links redirect appropriately, etc.
There are a variety of elements that go into a quality web design. If you’re not a designer, some of these elements might not seem all that important, but let me assure you, something that may seem small to you—like the font—can make a huge difference.
See what I mean?
Choosing and Using Images for Web Design
Images are one of the most impactful pieces of your web design. We’ve become more visual creatures with the rise of platforms like Instagram. And more sophisticated in our expectations of what a good picture looks like.
Stock photography is your baseline option. This means that taking pics on your phone is not going to cut it for your website. Feel free to load up your social profiles with phone pics, but you need to make the images on your site shine bright like a diamond.
While stock photography is acceptable (we even use some ourselves) it’s certainly not ideal. Most people can quickly identify if something is a stock photo, so when possible, custom photography is always your best option for introducing your brand and creating lasting memories with your website visitors.
Responsive Images in Web Design
Most websites these days are responsive. That means, instead of building separate versions of your website for desktop and for mobile, your desktop design automatically adjusts formatting in response to different screen sizes (mobile).
It can be tricky to pick images that will look nice on different screen sizes, but having a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, is NOT AN OPTION. Make sure that you’re being thoughtful about how content and images will appear on different screen sizes and do lots of testing. If something doesn’t translate well as a responsive image, we suggest trying something else in its place.
It’s All About the Details
Sometimes it’s the smallest details that make your website stand out. Custom icons and illustrations are a great way to bring in some visual variety for the users; keep content sections clearly organized, and give a visual cue for what the written content is about.
Elements that serve no technical function can be the pieces that bring your design together and work to create a stronger sense of brand identity. Think of your website like interior design. Everything on your site either contributes to the aesthetic you’re trying to create or detracts from it. Each piece must be carefully and thoughtfully chosen, and if something isn’t creating the right vibe or serving the user, it needs to go.
Not Sure if Your Website is Cutting it?
It can be hard to evaluate your own website. If design and user experience aren’t your fortes, and you’ve been staring at your website for years, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. Intuitive Digital can perform a variety of audits from technical to content to determine if your site is up to snuff. Reach out to learn more about our website audits.