Have you ever watched a friend or family member open up their own shop in town? Perhaps they painted the walls, installed new light fixtures, and hammered in a new sign on the shopfront.
If it was sugar and spice and everything nice, then townspeople probably flocked to the new enterprise.
These days, that shopfront is your online website. An engaging website is the foundation to every marketing plan – digital or traditional. And, believe it or not, the key to a successful site is this: less is more.
You’ll notice this theme as we talk about content, graphics, menu bars, and more. In a few moments, the notion of website design will cease toÂ be foreign territory. Ready to change your digital universe?
Start With the Homepage
This is the place where your top sales representative meets customers and not only makes them feel welcome, but also encourages them to stay a while.
More to the point, the homepage is where you’ll engage customers with your brand. You’re not trying to sell anything yet (that’s the goal of your landing page).
Rather, you’re trying to tell something. You’re trying to tell the story of your brand, illustrating why it exists and why it matters to the site visitor.
You’re answering questions like, ‘Why did it come into creation?’ and, ‘What’s so remarkable about it?’ As you answer these questions, it’s important to direct the narrative toward the customer.
People are – to no surprise – emotional creatures. Once they start to relate to a brand, they can become loyal customers. This is, of course, the ultimate goal (beyond making a sale).
As you tell your brand’s story, you have to demonstrate what you can do for them. The act of storytelling will send a powerful brand message. Here’s how to do it.
Branding Through Storytelling
If you’ve ever written a short story for school, you probably had to follow a plot line. Typical plot lines include five elements: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. Let’s translate these plot points into engaging website content:
- Introduction: This is where you introduce the problem most people face (i.e. too many apps to run their business).
- Rising Action: This is where people meet someone or uncover something that offers them a solution (i.e. one app that does it all for them).
- Climax: This is where people feel so called to action, they take a stand (i.e. download the app).
- Falling Action: This is where people see that, thanks to this new solution, life has gone on to be peachy keen (i.e. the customer has an uncluttered smartphone and a smile on their face).
- Resolution: Crisis/failure has been averted, and now there’s more time for cocktails down on High Street.
Here it is in a nutshell: on your homepage, you must tell the story of a person with a problem that uncovered a solution and felt called to action. As a result of their action, some “crisis” (we use the term lightly) was averted and they lived happily ever after.
Taking a storytelling approach to your homepage makes it entirely about the customer. It makes them the hero or heroine of their own story. They, too, can use your solutions to solve their current conundrum and that’s a win-win for all.
Keep the Content Clean
Okay, time to move on. Our apologies for spending so much time on the homepage. But, we hope that demonstrated how important it is. As the shopfront, it sets the standard.
And here’s the standard: every page on your site needs to be alluring, illustrative, and clean.
What do we mean by clean? Your sentences must be short. Your paragraphs must be short. The text must be concise. And you must include multiple headers to give your content structure and scannability.
So, even though you’re pulling out your quill to write a story, you can’t afford to be Shakespeare here. Engaging website content is clean.
On your homepage, you have a very short window of time (we’re talking seconds) to tell you story, including all five elements, and call visitors to click on your product pages.
On your ‘About Us’ page, you have a very short window of time to expand upon the history of your company and some of your notable accolades that will be of interest to your customers.
On your ‘Products’ or ‘Services’ page, you only need a short intro before laying out all your goods and services. Since folks have very short attention spans these days, there’s no room for large blocks of text.
As you browse for website ideas, you’ll see that, in the land of web design, you can cover all your plot points in a few sentences.
Don’t Fear the Whitespace
We can’t stress this enough: don’t be afraid of whitespace. Whitespace on a website is not like dead air on the radio. Short attention spans make room for lots of scrolling.
Nobody’s afraid to scan through the story of ‘why we’re here’ and ‘what we can do for you’ with uncluttered, beautiful imagery. In fact, that’s very much the goal.
Use Rich Imagery & Videos
Every good storybook has an image or two. In the land of social media, what dominates the feeds? Images and video. So, on your homepage, what image or short video will supplement your story?
If you’re running a business that sells fountain pens and stationery, perhaps the background image on your site will be parchment paper with a red wax seal. Whatever image you choose, it must be high-resolution and scalable.
What if you were to one-up that with a short video on your homepage? This would make it one of the first things customers see.
So, in our stationery store example, you could feature a short video of someone scratching away on parchment paper in beautiful calligraphy. What if that led straight to a sale?
Employ Pops of Colour & Easy Fonts
Did you know colour psychology is a thing? That’s why McDonald’s uses red and yellow (supposedly, those colours evoke feelings of hunger). That’s also why eco-friendly companies almost always use green (hello, fresh, forested fields of green).
So, one of the elements of engaging website design is your colour scheme. You’ll want to do this early on. Select a colour that will be the foundation of your website (i.e. the simplicity of beige if you’re selling homemade soap or the sensationalism of neon green if you’re selling paintball guns).
Then, you can select a contrasting accent colour. This is important for menu bars, buttons, and other interface elements. With your colours in place, it’s time to consider your fonts.
Your content needs to be easy-to-read (short) and your fonts need to be easy-to-read. Avoid scripts and fonts with serifs. These are old-school fonts like Times New Roman that have lines and strokes attached to the bottom of the letters.
Flowery fonts clutter up clean spaces and detract the eye from what’s important: what you have to offer. This is why fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica have cropped up in recent years. They’re straight, clean, and easy to read.
Create a Clutter-Free Menu Bar
We mentioned menu bars and buttons a moment ago, so let’s continue on with that. Don’t be tempted to get creative here. You can be creative all throughout your website, but leave the menu bar alone.
These are fairly standard, no matter whose website you visit. And that’s for a reason. If the GPS doesn’t work, people can’t get anywhere.
An effective website will be limited to approximately five menu buttons. You can have submenus within those five, but don’t clutter up your homepage with a wealth of confusing menu buttons.
Make Navigation Simple
Here’s one way to declutter your menu buttons: don’t have too many pages on your site. When someone goes to your ‘Services’ page, it should be easy to find every service for, say, your new spa.
If they’re interested in your massage packages, they’ll go right to that page. If they’re interested in your acupuncture services, boom, that’s another one-click-wonder.
The more pages people have to navigate through, the worse. Like short, scannable content, people want to be able to get right to what they’re looking for.
Your pages should never be buried. Menu bars should never be cluttered. And people should be able to get where they’re going in one, quick click.
Dabble In Calls to Action
Throughout your site, dabble in various calls to action. For example, on your home page, you’re going to call people to search your products and services. Make that an easy call to action.
On your product pages, you’re going to call people to purchase your lovely creations. Make your products descriptions concise, yet informative, and see that the ‘Add to Cart’ button is easy as a pinch.
If you’re selling a service, allow people to contact you to ‘Learn More’ with ease. Set links for submission forms in all the right places. On the sidebars or at the bottom of your portfolio page, you can make it simple for people to request a consultation or ‘Book Now.’
Optimise Your Site for Mobile
Enter the king of the internet: Google. Ladies and gentleman, if you don’t fall in line with what the king says, you’ll always be out of line.
In 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm ranking sites that were optimised for mobile higher up the food chain.
Google likes to give the people what they want. And people want to be able to devour information right from their hands. So, sites that are optimised for mobile will rank higher than sites that are not.
You can actually run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. They’ll check out your domain and tell you if it’s adequately user-friendly.
Add Social Media Buttons
After your website, your second biggest marketing tool is social media. Whether we like it or not, our lives are absolutely dominated by social media.
So, once your site is up and running, you might want to talk to an online marketer to see if they can help you get your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram up to par.
Once your accounts are live and starting to receive a little traction, be sure to add buttons to ‘Come Follow Us on Instagram’ and ‘Watch Us Live’ on Facebook. As repeat customers start to follow you on social media, they’ll be the first to know when new products and services launch.
Make Room for a Blog
Once everything is all said and done, make room for a blog. Like social media, a company blog is going to expand your reach, increase your marketing activities, and demonstrate your industry knowledge.
These can easily be tacked on to your existing website (and this is an acceptable candidate for an additional button on your menu bar).
If you play your SEO game right, the gods at Google may even sniff out one of your blogs someday and feature you as a snippet. That’s the kind of free marketing that’s worth its weight in gold.
Create an Engaging Website Today
And there you have it. You may never take another website for granted. They’re something that we dip in and out of every day, yet they take a lot of planning and forethought.
Here at Hello Frenchy, we can create an engaging website for you. We’re also online marketing gurus and social media experts.
Allow us to showcase your brand with the right story, create a roadmap to success throughout your site, and convert countless site visitors into long-standing customers.
Feel free to get in touch with us today. We’ll gloss up your new shopfront until everything in its display case shines.