No one knows the exact number of pages that can be found on the Internet, but I think everyone can agree that indeterminate amount is growing each day. And as the amount of content online grows, it becomes harder for your website to stand out.
To give yourself a chance of attracting visitors and keeping them interested, you need to make sure your site has a personality. This doesn’t necessarily mean your site needs to be flashy or have elaborate elements. You need simply need to establish a consistent design and voice for the content—and both of those things should be different than other sites out there.
Here are my tips for establishing your site’s personality:
#1 Determine who you are
The place to begin, when deciding on the look of your site, is determining how you want your company to be perceived. Like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, you simply have to ask “Who are you?”
We probably shouldn’t judge a company by the appearance of its website and promotional materials, but we certainly do. It’s like a resume—you could have been top of your class at Harvard, but if you’ve typed up your credentials in Comic Sans, you will lose some credibility with that future employer. Similarly, you need your website’s design and content to match the tone of your company.
Some choices are obvious. For example, a law firm isn’t going to have a hot pink header: you would likely use darker colors, like deep red, royal blue, or gray, and a standard sans-serif font. But don’t be afraid to show an edgy or a quirky side if that’s what your company is about.
For example, Carbonmade—a site where artists can construct an online portfolio—has bright colors and a lot of illustrations (including an octopus and a unicorn) right on their front page. For most companies, this would not work. Could you imagine a medical site with a unicorn plastered on the front? However, Carbonmade is a creative company, so the illustrations reflect their personality well.
Whatever vibe you are going for—professional, personable, what have you—determine that tone early on and establish it through your content, images, color scheme, and every other aspect of your site.
#2 Determine who the audience is
While establishing the way you want your company to be perceived, you also need to decide who will be looking at your website. You probably wouldn’t talk to your mother and your spouse on the phone in the same way; you also need to adapt your site depending on who you are “talking” to.
Let’s take a law website, for example. If you are a lawyer trying to connect with potential clients, you will want to come across as personable and helpful. You’ll want to display a picture of yourself, as well as your contact information in multiple places, and explain any legal jargon so any person could understand your content. However, if you are a lawyer who is trying to share new strategies or news with other lawyers, you want to be professional and knowledgeable. You would use jargon without explanation and highlight your articles rather than your contact information.
Another reason why the Carbonmade website works is because the company obviously realized that their clients are artists who will appreciate creativity and a little quirkiness.
#3 Establish a brand that goes throughout the site
Personality has a lot to do with consistency. For example, you would call someone lazy because their actions are fairly predictable. They don’t just sleep in past their alarm once; they do it often. You can establish the personality of your company by developing logos and other materials that go throughout the site.
This can be achieved pretty easily by having the same header and navigation bar at the top of each page. You should also be using the same fonts and colors across the board. The website for Entertainment Weekly uses different colors for each category of entertainment that their publication covers. However, the fonts and page layouts are similar throughout, so you don’t feel like you have gone to an entirely different site when you bounce from movies to TV.
#4 Add elements that set you apart
Mono, an advertising and design company, decided a few years ago that, if they were going to prove that they could successfully promote their clients, they first had to successfully promote their own company.
The solution was Monoface. The company took pictures of their employees, and set up a page where visitors could interchange the eyes, noses, and mouths of different employees to humorous effects. It’s fun, it’s simple, and it got people talking about the company.
Your site doesn’t have to implement something that drastic, but it’s helpful to have a fun gimmick. Simply answer the question, “What makes our company different from others?” From there, you can come up with ideas that will set you apart from the competition, whether it’s a game added into the site or a big, bold image on the front page.
#5 Write content that sizzles
It may not always appear this way, but on websites, content is king. If your pages have a great design but boring or repetitive information (i.e. all flash and no substance), visitors will soon leave. You want content that’s relevant and helpful, but also interesting. The text should match the tone you have already given the site.
When I think about content that’s brimming with personality, I automatically think of Vitamin Water. The quirky, clever text on the labels is the main reason I buy that product. And Glaceau— the company that distributes Vitamin Water—was smart enough to incorporate the same voice into the text of their site. For example, the following comes from the page where you can locate stores with Vitamin Water:
“Once upon a time the only place to find our products was Queens, New York, Fortunately, our plot for world water domination is working (mwahaha). Submit your zip code to find stores in your vicinity.”
Even that little bit of text had me more engaged than if they had just written “Submit your zip code to find stores in your vicinity.”
The important thing is to establish a voice and remain consistent throughout. Remember your audience and consider what they would like to hear. If you don’t get much of a chance to be witty or exciting within your site’s main information, you can always add a blog with a behind-the-scenes look of your company, tips within your field, and your take on recent events.
Author Bio: Shannon Williams is an expert in local internet marketing, specializing in guest blogging and content strategy. She graduated with a degree in English and editing, so she’s thrilled to have a job where she can use her writing skills to help other businesses.