The challenge is set. The obstacle course is laid out in front of you. The online business world has evolved and so has the consumer. Competition is up; expendable income generally isn’t. And this year could be tough because of a lack of ‘shared agendas’ in the public domain – in 2013 more than ever, brands may find themselves struggling to stay relevant and engaging.
Here are five simple ways your online brand presence can instill and earn confidence.
I know, I know, you read this every year. Just hear me out…
In 2013, good websites should already have a well thought-out value proposition; comprising images, snappy copy, iconography, promises to the customer and everything required to offer peace-of-mind. They should also have a strong brand; comprising a good logo, a suitable tone-of-voice, an engaging design style, straplines and slogans. Few websites have good typography yet.
Typography, for those who don’t know, is simply the process of crafting the appearance of words and letters. If you can’t say it in different words, at least you can say the same words in a different visual style; one that is proprietary, completely unique, recognisable and aesthetically appropriate. Having your own typographic style gives consumers one more thing to remember you by and is arguably one of the last bastions for building brand confidence and awareness.
2. Broken Links & Disorganised Businesses
There are a few things that will make visitors leery about doing business with you. One of them is a bad link on your website.
If you think about it, a business that doesn’t take the time to test their page links might not take the extra time or care with customer service either. “It’s broke” – that’s all the customer thinks. Testing your links should be a regular task because you need to show that you pay close attention to detail. This is more than just a technical thing – it’s a brand issue!
3. Engaging With Social Media
I think small businesses have felt a lot of pressure to get on social media over the last few years. And rightly so.
The problem is that many business owners buckled under the pressure without understanding the philosophy or strategy behind it. A stunning 70% of brand-fan queries on social networks go unanswered, ignored or unheeded (just do a Google search and you’ll see tons of research). That makes for a lot of unhappy customers.
So I’ll make this concise: Get on board with social media and nurture real relationships, or get off the networks. Social media isn’t free advertising for your brand – it’s free publicity. Whether that publicity is good or bad depends entirely on how you engage with people.
4. Less Distraction, More Attraction
When you visit a website that feels disorganized and cluttered, it can be more difficult to focus on any one thing. If your visitor can’t figure out how to find the information they seek—whether it’s a phone number, a specific product or detailed specifications—they may lose interest very quickly. Making it neat and organized will help your visitors relax and enjoy exploring your site.
Web designers have spent a long time refining their best practices to ensure that the most crucial brand elements and value propositions are expressed instantly; so the user doesn’t have to scroll to find out what the site is all about. You’ve probably heard your web designer talking about putting content ‘above the fold’… this is precisely what they mean.
Google also released an infamous update called ‘Top Heavy’ which punished websites for having too much advertising above the fold. This makes sense when you think about it: Valuable websites should be using that space for their own branding and value propositions rather than sending traffic straight to another site.
However, vertical scrolling (like you can do on this web page) is ingrained in the modern user experience. As such, the focus in 2013 has moved away from ‘getting it all above the fold’ and become more about interactivity and prioritisation of content. Contemporary websites are, for the first time in a very long time, being designed with scrolling in mind – actively encouraging the user to scroll from one topic to the next and allowing certain features or functions (such as the navigation bar, calls-to-action or social media buttons) to follow the user as they scroll.
5. Entering New Dimensions – Parallax Design
The web got deep, man… And I don’t mean like Kant or Nietzsche. I mean web designers and developers have found a way of literally adding depth to websites. In the industry, it’s called ‘Parallax Design’.
Previously web design was grounded in two dimensions. With parallax designs you can have any number of different layers, all set to move in different directions at different speeds relative to one another. The result is two-fold: You can add perspective through relative motion and you also get new possibilities for animation. Best of all, particular layers can be set to move in different ways according to user interactions, including hovering the mouse, scrolling or even moving the mouse around the screen. The whole website design therefore becomes interactive and infinitely more engaging.
Brand Confidence in 2013
Everything mentioned above will give customers confidence in your brand. If you become easier to find, more memorable, more cutting edge and generally present yourself in an immaculate manner, you leave little room for doubt in the customer’s mind.
Your best bet is to work with an experienced web design and marketing partner who can create something tailored for you. Not everyone needs a responsive parallax site with floating navigation tools and proprietary typography.
But you might.