How to elevate your online brand - think design

Posted by Murray Sye

on Sat, Oct 25, 2014 @ 10:30 AM


Before you read any further, I'd like you to take this simple test.

Open another browser and type in your company's URL.

Now take a good look at your homepage.

I want you to be honest with yourself and answer this question, 'what's your first impression?'


Are you impressed or disappointed?

Does it visually translate and present your brand the way it deserves? Remember, you only have one chance to make a great first impression.

And, what first impression are you leaving with your visitors?

Web design plays a larger role in your overall marketing and branding strategy than most think. Yet it seems that in these contemporary digital times, technology leads while the importance of web design tends to take a back seat.

All the digital tools and tactics work to get targeted users' attention, but it's your web design that often plays a huge role in your visitor's decision to either click around or click away.




Time to elevate the appearance of your online brand? Here's a few important elements to consider. I've also included a few sample websites just to tease you with a little inspiration. (Click on the image to view)

1) What effect do you want to have on your target audience
Before you even attempt any redesign, you'll need to take some time to crystalize what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Successful brands start by thoroughly understanding their buyer persona well before they try to appeal to them. Once you have a clear understanding, formulate a brand message that you'll need to communicate consistently across multiple mediums including print.



2) What are you planning to look like?
What motivates your audience? Review your buyer persona to discover what they're already buying, the brands they already like. Once you've got this, you'll know how to present your brand to fit right in.

This means creating a website design that reflects how you'd like your business to be perceived. It means choosing the right colours and appealing fonts that give your words a 'voice' and a personality. And even using print materials that keep everything consistent with a positive impression, no matter where your audience interacts with your brand. 



3) Think about the visuals you'll be using
When it comes to web design, the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" couldn't be more accurate. In its most basic form, web design is supposed to provide an ideal platform for users to engage with and consume content.

But as the web has matured, so have the tastes of its users. And, in essence, we've come to prefer the brevity and beauty of images over words. It's no wonder Instagram and Pinterest have been so successful.

Do the images in the Apple website below reflect the quality behind their brand? I'd say so.



 4) Designing with the user in mind
Great web design doesn't allow for any grey areas – everything should be about designing for the user experience (UX), and optimization start with the user. Your website is a tool that should ultimately serve your audience and, as a result, all the design techniques should work together to improve your site's ability to serve.

Carefully arrange every element of your site so that each one provides the right function, context, and direction for visitors. If the visual arrangement of a website is about a person's visceral reaction to your page, the optimization and UX perceptive is all about how the site meets your visitor's needs.

Design for users.



5) Design responsive
It's probably no surprise by now that mobile internet has been skyrocketing over the last few years. According to a Morgan Stanley report, mobile internet usage is expected to match desktop usage by the end of 2014. Even with this compelling evidence, the vast majority of business websites are not mobile-friendly. However, this is something that your business can't ignore.

Sites built using responsive design provide an experience that uses the context of the device from which your visitors arrive. Responsive sites and design recognize the device a person is using to view the page and rearranges or "responds" automatically, making itself look great on wide screens, laptops, tablets or mobile phones. 




The "look" of your website is the first thing your visitor will experience. As a result, the site aesthetic, not the written content on the screen, is your first chance to make a great first impression (like within a few milliseconds)

Your website has to make an immediate positive impact, and when your brand exudes that kind of confidence, you'll have achieved drop-dead gorgeous status. And that's the kind of status that will help to build your business from the first click.


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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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