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Latest Issue: Jul/Aug 17

How web design can affect the credibility of your business

Nowadays every company needs a website; not only is it crucial to being found and bringing in the business, but it is central to your credibility as a brand. Any big recognisable brand that you can think of will have done one thing right in becoming and remaining recognisable, and that is being consistent. Regardless of what changes time brings on, the look, tone and values of the business are untouched, and customers return year after year because they feel confident in the business and what it delivers. This is not just about having a decent logo - it is about building an unshakeable trust between brand and customer.

First impressions often come down to looks, so this is a good place to begin. Do a quick internet search for any sort of company or service provider, and look at the vast difference between the overall images of each brand the search brings up. In spite of the quality of their service, the state of their website and general brand image will make customers’ minds up in seconds as to whether they are to be trusted. An amateur attempt at web design, with clashing colours, format and fonts stands out in a negative way when compared to the website of a huge company like, say, ASOS in terms of look and in terms of content. It goes to show that time, effort and professional knowledge need to go into the image of your brand.

It may be a safe way to begin, but steer clear of website templates. An expert designer will have all the skills and tools to make a site from scratch at their disposal, so insist on an original look that will be memorable. Mix up the layout a bit, ensuring that navigation is simple and clear and that content is useful, easily found and easily followed, as pages full of words can be a turnoff to a browsing customer, so keep it simple but informative. Avoid stock images like the plague, as they are a good indication of a mediocre site. Hire a photographer to take quality photos for your site; this is a key step in maintaining a professional look. Website accessibility is key for maximum reach, so make sure your site is device friendly so people can find it on the go, always ensuring that the overall look of the page is sleek and professional looking. A professional-looking site will reflect a professional business.

A personalised service always sticks in the memory of a customer, and it’s a proven way to improve customer experience, show your loyalty to your clients and boost conversion rates. There are many small but effective ways in which to personalise the work of your brand and your site and let your customers know that you care. Start with welcome messages with the customer’s name, as well as ‘welcome back’ messages each time they log on. For regular customers, entice them with loyalty rewards, while tempting in new punters with introductory offers. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a customer, send them a ‘we miss you’ offer; if a shopping cart is abandoned with items in it, offer the customer a discount with a reminder about their waiting purchase. Elsewhere, if applicable, you can improve your reach with gender- or age-specific content, and earn extra points with international visitors by adding welcome messages in their native languages. Seasonal offers are always a great way to bring in new custom and treat the regulars. Remember, it is always about the needs of the customer, and they have no obligation to be loyal to your brand, so you have to make the effort to let them know how valued they are and give them reason to return. All of these little tricks will win the approval of customers, and make them far more likely to come to you, and to recommend you to others. Always bring it back to the customer and what they want, and this way, it is clear that the customer is the most important thing to you, and that they can rely on you.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need a website designed. You need to find a top designer who understands exactly what your brand is all about, and can carry this image throughout the company. Take some time to find a designer you feel an affinity with, and discuss with them exactly what the company is all about. Consider the relationship between the brand and the consumer, what you are delivering to whom and from this identify a tone of voice that reflects your company’s purpose and appeals to its target customer. Decide on your message; what is it that you bring to the market, and what will you say to your customer to let them know you are the best brand for their needs? Remember that it is all about the needs of the customer, and their security in the knowledge that these needs will be served by your company better than any competitor. Maintaining credibility as a business is all about being consistent with your image, tone and message throughout all outlets and media, and the expertise of a professional designer is crucial to this.

If we’re looking for a quick, cheap, relatively healthy meal that we can make our own, we can nip into any one of the hundreds of Subways there are all over the country. If our phones pack up, we wander over to the Apple store almost on autopilot to get a replacement. These companies may not be the cream of the crop, but they are reliable in what they deliver, and consistent in their image, and it is this that lets us turn to them without giving it much thought. Any sort of company can reach this calibre, if they put enough thought into their brand image and striking a chord with the customer.

by Matt Eldridge, Melt Design