June 17, 2011
Creating a business website can be a difficult task. Not necessarily from a technical standpoint, but rather from a design and communication standpoint. How do you make a business or corporate website interesting and include some personality in it? You need a professional presentation but that does not mean you cannot be creative or personable. You need to create interest in the business and persuade visitors to venture further into the site and learn more about the company which can lead them to contact the company or make a sale on the site itself.
As a designer, it can feel as though your creativity could become stifled when you first begin to work on a corporate web design project. This does not need to be the case though. You should be able to incorporate some interesting and creative aspects into the design and ultimately make the visitor’s experience a pleasant one. But how?
Break Out of the Cold Shell
There are many types of businesses besides large corporations that can appear dull and send the visitor into a light sleep very quickly. Business websites like insurance agencies, real estate companies, wealth management and consulting firms can all appear cold and lifeless. Yes, they are professional in presentation, but that does not mean creativity and personality cannot be included in the website.
As a designer working with any type of business, you want to explain to your client the importance of making a connection with the visitor to their website. This does not have to be something distracting with a lot of animation or as a client once said to me, “We need more wiz-bang.” It can be subtle and still be direct.
One of the keys to accomplishing this is to find the starting point for a conversation with the visitor. Simply invoking the right question, or a laugh can be the perfect ingredient to make the visitor want to stay on the site just long enough to make your point or to make a sale.
For example, to help set the tone you may want to incorporate friendly or imaginative photos of the owner of the business or employees at the company on the home page giving the site a welcoming feel to any visitor.
Even if you just have graphics with calls to action, it could be enough to invoke your visitor to stay and find out more about the products or services that are being offered. There are many websites that feature these minimalist characteristics. Their presentation focuses mostly on typography. They ask the right questions or have a direct approach in saying who they are. They do not offer too much information or answers on the home page and invite the visitor to look further into the site and find out more. These are great ways to include a little personality and create interest at the same time.
Welcome the Visitor
Large businesses and corporations could learn a lesson from some small businesses. When a visitor arrives at a website, they do not want to feel like they just walked into the giant lobby of a company and there is nobody there to greet them, answer some questions they may have or direct them to their primary destination. You certainly do not want to drive people away from the website by not offering enough information.
Sometimes smaller businesses have an easier time making visitors feel welcome. This is true with both the brick and mortar businesses as well as their websites. Simply featuring a friendly photo or graphic on the home page of the website or maybe a quote about an approach to business, outside interests, or an approach to life itself can offer a small connection and invite the visitor to stay.
Incorporating the personality of a small business owner can also offer the right kind of personal connection. Using this approach can make the visitor feel like they know what the owner is like. There is a feeling of trust and value in their presentation making you feel like doing business with them. Showing the typical stock photo of a handshake, a missing puzzle piece or a picture of a large glass building are not the kind of elements that will draw the visitor’s interest. You want to make them feel welcome and offer them a reason to stay. They are taking time to stop by and visit your website, so welcome them and take advantage of the opportunity.
Tell Them More but Do Not Repeat
In web design, it is common practice to include an “About Us” – or a “History” – page on a site. Stop and think how often you see an “About Us” or a “History” link on a particular website and then you visit the page only to be disappointed in finding out that it is exactly the same information that you read on the home page.
Why? Why repeat what has already been presented and frustrate the visitor? The “About Us” or “History” page is a prime opportunity to make a personal connection with your visitors. On this page you should dig deep and elaborate more about who the company is or who you are as a business owner. This doesn’t mean you have to divulge a favorite dessert or a favorite sports team.
Depending on the type of business and the size of the company, there are many ways you can make a personal connection with potential customers. If it is an older established company, tell your visitors about the rich history of the company and how your approach to your customers has not changed through the years. If it is a fairly young company, then you could explain to visitors about how you can provide a more one on one approach to business as opposed to some larger companies where that personal connection may become lost. Take it a step further and discuss company or individual accomplishments within the industry. Has the company won awards or have people within the company accomplished achievements in their work? Is the company involved with any charitable organizations? Do employees take part in giving their time and talents to a particular cause outside of work? If this is the case, tell the visitors about it. Show how employees have been recognized for particular accomplishments or how the company gives back to the community. These are all great ways to make a connection with your visitors and show there is more to the company and its employees.
Creating an interesting business website by including some personality can be very beneficial. You want to grab the visitor’s attention in a professional manner. You want to let the visitor know what services or products you have to offer.
You also want to make a connection with the visitor and not offer a cold presentation. Hopefully the ideas and suggestions mentioned in this article will help you in creating a business website that is interesting and inviting to any visitor. By adding a little personality to your business website, you can create the interest needed that will persuade your visitors to stay and hopefully develop a long lasting business relationship.
Kevin Pahlau is a web and graphic designer and has over eight years experience in web and multimedia development. He has worked in both broadcast and print media and has been a contributing writer for a variety of online publications.