Representing yourself – Website
In previous articles we have discussed the importance of your organisation’s brand. So far, we have looked at:
• Who are you? – Thinking about company brand
• Representing yourself – People
In this edition we will discuss the importance of your website and how it will communicate your desired messages.
In today’s digital world your website says more about your company than ever before. Statistics show that 90% of candidates look at a companies website before applying for a job there.
The messages communicated on your website goes completely beyond the words on the pages, there are so many aspects to consider and each require careful consideration.
There’s no place like home
Open your website homepage, imagine you’re visiting it for the first time. What are your first impressions?
Your homepage will be the go-to destination for anyone that might want to find out more about your organisation. Will a first time visitor immediately get an idea of what your organisation is about?
Your homepage should be as simple as possible, it should be branded with your company logo and colours and if you have a motto or strapline this should be there as well. Any text should be easy to read so think about colour contrasts, it may be boring but black text on a white background is by far the easiest to read. If a visitor struggles to read the words on the page this will instantly create a negative experience.
It can be tempting to flood your homepage with as much information as possible however the likely effect will be that it will appear cluttered and cause visitors to leave and go elsewhere. Keeping your homepage clean and simple makes for a much more pleasant user experience and will encourage visitors to explore your site further.
Images will of course benefit your site, not least in order to keep the content varied and engage visitors on a different level but also to provide visual representations of your organisation. When using images it’s important to ask yourself ‘does this image actually represent my organisation?’. When searching through the internet it is not difficult to find examples of sites that have used images simply for the sake of using an image. Think carefully about the images that you use and the purpose that they serve.
Don’t be tone deaf
Tone of voice is something that should be carefully considered and applied to every form of communication, ensuring that it is consistent and properly representative of your organisation.
Place yourselves in the position of your customer, how would you want to be spoken to?
Does the content on your website give the right impression of your company?
Deciding your tone of voice is an important conversation that should be taken seriously and include key members of your management team as it will then need to be communicated to team members.
The creation of a Style Guide that can be distributed throughout the organisation can be incredibly effective. This guide will stand as company policy for all matters regarding any communication that takes place and can be used as a reference point for matters where more than one option exists in order to secure consistency in written communication.
Your style guide should include a section on tone of voice, within this section you should outline the core values that all written communication should support. This should serve to instill these values in your employees’ minds and ensure that these values consistently motivate all communication moving forward.
Your style guide should then be applied to your website ensuring that all elements comply and that the tone of voice is consistent throughout. Your customers should be able to feel a consistent message and personality on every page of your site, this will help build trust which is incredibly important when looking to ensure a positive customer experience.
It is important to regularly refresh content on your site, it is likely that after a while there will have been a number of people that have contributed and subsequently different tones of voice will exist throughout. Regularly refreshing the content ensures that the tone remains consistent.
Find your way around
Every interaction your customers have with your organisation will contribute to their impression of you. A visit to your website will include a series of interactions, each of which has the potential to contribute towards a positive or negative impression.
There are two significant contributing factors to this which are; how easy your site is to navigate and how well it functions. The likelihood is that visitors to your site will either be trying to access information or a service, if they can’t find what they’re looking for or they can’t access it then that is a huge problem.
Take the time to ensure that your website is clearly signposted and important information is easy to find. The longer it takes to find something, the fewer visitors will make it that far. To avoid significant drop off rates make pathways as simple as possible. By this I mean, the fewer clicks that a user needs to perform in order to find what they’re looking for, the better. Take the time to create a comprehensive site map which displays all pages and the routes from the homepage. This can help you gain an idea of whether there are simpler routes between pages, thus improving the user experience.
Functionality is a key factor when looking at your website. We live in a world where internet speeds are faster than ever and even when we’re out and about you have a world of information at your fingertips. This makes it even more important that your site functions well, pages load quickly and all links take the user where they’re should. Users are used to the best and you’re site needs to be up to the same standards otherwise visitors will become quickly frustrated and begin looking elsewhere. Test every part of your website and every single link making sure that everything loads quickly and all lead where they should do.
Your website is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal when it comes to communicating your brand to potential and current customers, candidates and competitors.
Take the time to ensure that you are using it as best you possibly can and it fully represents you in the way that you want it to. Without proper attention your site can become quickly outdated and inconsistent, take control and make sure the proper messages are being communicated.