Why You Need to Rethink Your Web Design Strategy
Exploring the Value of Story-First Web Design
Your website is a digital representation of your brand identity. It’s your own little piece of the World Wide Web. Think of it like a storefront. Your web design helps attract your target audience, advertises your brand’s intent, and serves as the first step in the customer journey.
A well-designed homepage creates a positive first impression on visitors and legitimizes your brand. It instantly communicates professionalism, credibility, and attention to detail, which can influence how users perceive your brand or organization.
A consistent and visually appealing design reinforces your organization’s brand identity, fosters recognition, and builds a stronger connection with your audience. On the other hand, a website with outdated visuals or inconsistent messaging is more than an eyesore. It can reduce a potential customer’s trust in your brand.
Visual appeal is only part of your website: How can your website better serve your visitors (and you)?
The best websites do more than simply look legitimate. Quality website design generates leads, alleviates your team’s burdens, and drives sales.
Your website is an opportunity to guide your customers through a predetermined, tailor-made journey that ends in a sale.
Strategic design elements, like compelling CTAs, well-placed forms, and intuitive checkout processes, contribute to higher conversion rates. Users are more likely to take desired action when the design guides them seamlessly through the process.
Effective website development strategy is optimized to share your specific story. That means your website can target your organization’s best customers, saving your team time and tightening your sales funnel.
Effective design also showcases your content in a visually appealing and easily digestible manner. It’s the difference between a giant block of text and multimedia storytelling. Good user experience (UX) design guides users’ attention to important information, making it more likely that they’ll engage with your content.
Elements to consider
Building a new website (or redesigning an old one) can quickly turn into a random act of marketing. Especially if your team doesn’t have a solid strategy to guide the process. A written strategy document can serve as a road map and save you from chasing every new idea brought to the table.
So, what does your web development strategy need to include? You must begin with the end in mind. Consider these questions to begin outlining your strategy:
- User experience: What do you want your visitors to do?
- Responsive design: How do you make your website accessible to all people on all devices?
- Visual Design and Brand Identity: How do you want your visitors to feel?
Answer those questions, and you will have a better idea of the structure of your website—or at least the story it should tell.
User experience: What do you want your visitors to do?
Has a friend ever asked you for a favor that turned into something much more complicated? Don’t let your website be that friend.
No matter what you want your visitors to do, you must make it easy (unless you want them to leave). A user-friendly interface includes intuitive navigation and seamless interactions between any interactive elements. It creates clear next steps in the sales journey. And it ultimately delivers on your brand’s promise.
How often do you close a website because it was too difficult to navigate or submit a payment? You can’t ask your visitor to do something and then make it hard to do.
A negative user experience ends the conversation. However, a positive user experience fosters engagement and, ultimately, conversions.
Responsive design: How do you make your website accessible to all people on all devices?
Imagine you hurt your ankle sliding into third during an intramural softball game or trying that incredible new TikTok dance. It happens. Your doctor recommends two local physical therapy offices, one in a third-floor walk-up office and the other in a standard, easily accessible storefront. Which one do you go to? Few people are going to choose the stairs with a busted ankle.
UX design considers the audience before building the site. Your website has to be ready to accommodate your target audience, and since your target audience is on their phones, you have to design for mobile.
In a meta-analysis of internet browsing data, researchers found that quarter-over-quarter, internet users increasingly access the World Wide Web from mobile devices.
In the first quarter of 2015, about 30% of web traffic was mobile. By 2017, that number jumped over 50%.
Now, more than 60% of the internet’s traffic comes from mobile phones.
Not only is the majority of internet traffic mobile, but more than 90% of internet users report using a mobile device to access the internet.
What does that mean for your website? It means you need to offer a seamless mobile experience. Depending on your target audience, consider designing the mobile experience first.
However, responsive UX design goes beyond designing for a cell phone screen. Desktop users have different-sized screens—laptops, too. And tablets come in all shapes and sizes.
Your website needs to use responsive design, which adapts as the screen width changes, to cater to the many screen sizes and accessibility needs.
Even if you don’t think your website has to be responsive, Google does. Most search engines score the results they return based on responsiveness. Someone using a search engine on their phone won’t see results for desktop-only sites optimized for mobile. And even then, search engines consider a site’s mobile-friendliness when ranking search results.
Visual Design and Brand Identity: How do you want your visitors to feel?
If your website is your brand’s digital storefront, inconsistent and outdated brand identity will make your brand look like one of those knockoff Starbucks chains.
Your website must look cohesive from page to page—the same logo, icon style, tone of voice, color scheme, typography, and design elements. All of these elements reinforce brand identity and build trust with your visitors.
Inconsistent or outdated designs are common stumbling blocks for brands that have developed their websites piecemeal over time. New pages may have different layouts, fonts, and logos from old pages. You don’t want to send your valuable leads on a museum tour of your brand’s history—good and bad. While that sounds cool, it’s not great for visitors you’re trying to lead through your sales funnel.
That’s not to say each page must look the same. Your web pages can be laid out in various ways but must follow one overarching web design theme.
Imagine you’re approaching the checkout counter at Target when the sales associate tags in someone wearing an orange “t4rget” uniform wielding his own credit card machine. Do you swipe your card? Probably not.
When you begin your web design process with a story-first user experience, you avoid the pitfalls of piecemeal web development.
Keep your brand’s identity strong throughout your UX design by starting with a guiding narrative and cohesive strategy.
Story-First: A comprehensive approach to web design and development
Over the years, we’ve seen web developers—entire creative agencies even—develop websites without any overarching narrative. They design a theme (or grab one off the shelf) and slap on a new logo and coat of paint. They set up the web page hierarchy, show you how to add a new page, and send you the bill.
But they do all of this without providing copy, graphics, or any comprehensive story—which is to say, they often get it wrong.
A new website with outdated copy isn’t a new website. A redesign without a tailored sales journey isn’t a sales tool. It’s a roadblock.
Content Workshop takes a unique approach to developing websites—we start with the story.
Build Your Website Story-First: Does your website offer a cohesive customer journey?
Story-first web design starts with, well, your brand’s story. This approach to web development places your brand’s overall story—your mission, purpose, and sales goals—at the forefront of your web design strategy. Story-first web design starts with a plan before putting the infrastructure in place.
And since the story-first approach gives your web design team a pre-determined, pre-approved roadmap to follow, making it much easier to keep your branding and tone of voice consistent across the website.
Story-first web design invites your visitors into your brand’s story. It makes them feel like they belong and ultimately guides them through your pre-determined web journey to the desired outcome.
That’s why Content Workshop launches all of our websites with a full complement of branded content. Building a website story first means the brand story, narrative flow, visual elements, copy, and UX design are all laid out before the code is written.
Tailor Your UX Design with Personas:
Demographics and Psychographics are great tools, but they lead to monolithic thinking. No one person is a monolith. Personas allow your organization to drill down beyond demographics and psychographics into the very language that makes your audiences tick.
Using personas in your web development strategy is a powerful way to ensure your content resonates with your target audience and addresses their specific needs. By putting yourself in the shoes of your ideal customers or audience members, you gain valuable insights into their preferences, pain points, and motivations. This deep understanding allows you to create content that speaks directly to them, providing relevant solutions, valuable information, and engaging stories.
Who is your brand’s best customer? Who is easiest to work with? Who is the most profitable? Which customers turn into advocates? Which customers are most likely to move through your sales funnel?
Whoever just came to mind are your brand’s personas. Instead of placing your brand at the story’s center, imagine your persona as the story’s hero.
Enter your hero in search of a solution to their problem. Suddenly, they find themselves on your homepage seeking help and guidance on their quest.
Your website needs to have a well-defined arc. Your brand exists to provide the hero with a solution. Your website must convince them your answer is the best and guide them through the rest of the journey to the desired ending.
With personas, you can tailor your UX design to specific audience segments, address specific needs, and guide your best leads through their buyer’s journey. By knowing more about your potential customers, you have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level. You can invite them more specifically into your story. You can move them through their own customized version of your website’s narrative flow.
A story-first website considers your audience, not just the broad cross-sampling of all your possible leads. Story-first websites map out a journey specific to people who interact with your brand. With a better idea of your brand’s target personas, you can create tailored narrative journeys through your website to ensure they have the best chance of reaching your ultimate goal.
Content Workshop builds story-driven websites.
The strategists at Content Workshop help brands create personas to guide their content and website development.
Our team begins the persona development process by completing extensive research on your brand’s customers. This step distills your larger audience into a cast of heroes representing broader portions of your base.
With your heroes in mind, our team identifies the challenges, pain points, and goals of your personas. This allows us to create a user experience tailored to the specific audiences you want to attract.
Personas are an invaluable asset in web design that should not be dismissed. Well-built personas that reflect real customers or audiences provide significant value to your web development plan. By identifying your target audience’s challenges, pain points, and goals, conducting extensive research, and avoiding overly specific demographics, Content Workshop can help you design a website that resonates with your audience and drives engagement and conversions.
Content Workshop will help you embrace the power of personas in your web development plan to foster brand loyalty and ensure content that truly speaks to your audience’s needs and interests.
Can We Build Your Story-Powered Website?
Content Workshop’s strategists, writers, designers, and web developers work together to build comprehensive brand guides, customer personas, and content strategies that power an engaging, helpful, and even profitable website.