The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft forged last week highlights how big the mobile internet industry has become. To compete with Apple, which is set to become the world’s biggest firm, the mobile and PC giants have teamed up to deliver efficient operating systems for smartphones used for business and leisure the world over.
So as websites become the first face of your business that many companies see, it is worth making sure it says something – the right things – about what you do and what you stand for. Nick Ellis, Creative Director at branding and design agency Halo Media, gives his ten top tips.
1. Consider what your existing customers already like about you
Too many websites give generic messaging about how wonderful they are without saying what makes them different. Are you the most creative or do you hold traditional values? Are you the biggest or do you target a niche market? Decide and tell.
2. Bring it to life
Websites should be lively, include regularly updated stories about what the business has achieved, where it’s going and its perspective on the here and now. If your MD is a big personality, arrange for him to write a regular blog. If you want customers to see your staff as individuals with specialist knowledge, comment on the big stories in the news.
3. Keep it simple
There’s no need to cram in every thought you’ve ever had about the industry, every business move you’ve made and every client you’ve worked for. Identify the key elements that describe your brand’s offer, rather than just populating this site because you’re faced with a blank page.
4. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you’ve got a logo you’ve got a brand
You haven’t. Your brand is what people say about you behind your back. SMEs need to consider their brand more than anyone else, as you’re unlikely to be the biggest in the market; you need to say something about what makes you different, and therefore better than, the big players in the industry.
5. Reflect your audience
If your market is women in their twenties looking for brightly coloured nail varnish then keep the site lively and fresh with video and chatty blogs. If it’s a hypnotherapy business, then tone it down a bit. You get the gist.
6. Make it smart, but not boring
There’s a difference between sticking to a colour palette and making your homepage look like a dissertation…
7. …but don’t use stock photography
Many SMEs have to create the website on a small budget, so resort to using royalty-free stock photography - which is usually American and in no way represents what your company, or any company for that matter, does. Not cool.
8. Don’t use deal photos, either
You might have the happiest customer in the world, but a photo of the two of you shaking hands and handing over a piece of paper doesn’t explain why.
9. Use Adobe Flash carefully
Although this week’s partnership with Nokia and Microsoft may mean that more people are able to access the programme through their mobile devices, you still don’t want 90 million people to not be able to see your showreel or case study montage.
10. Let people get in touch
There’s nothing more annoying than having to fill in a ‘contact us’ form when all you want to know is whether you ship to the US.