Online Branding and Web Design – Your Shop Window
The following blog post is the first in a series that will get you thinking in depth about your online presence, and ensuring that you are moving in the right direction to maximising your return on investment.
I am about to tell you something you may be shocked by. Something that may ensure that you never look at your computer in the same way again. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Well here goes…
Your website is a 24 hour sales tool.
I know, I know. It’s something we’re not supposed to talk about, or to even acknowledge to ourselves, but like a grudging admiration for Simon Cowell it’s true regardless of whether we want it to be or not.
In fact your website is likely to be the most powerful sales tool you have.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a small website that is rarely updated, or a complex e-commerce that allows people to buy from your online shop. If it isn’t generating new business, a huge opportunity to sell your products or services is passing you by.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR ONLINE BRAND
Your brand image is of huge importance. This is just as true online as it is offline.
It may take a little bit of ‘getting your head around’ but a good way to appreciate why this is so important is to visualise the following analogy…
Imagine you are on a street full of shops. It’s a fairly typical situation, except you don’t recognise any of them or have the foggiest idea what they sell.
You find yourself standing outside one, deciding if you are going to pop in and, more importantly, if they sell the type of product that you are after. (For simplicity, we will call it a product, but it could just as easily be a service.)
Lets consider the look of the shop window.
Now if you didn’t know what Harrods was and had never heard of Poundland, you would still be able to tell that they operate in entirely different ways. One glance at their shop fronts is enough to see that one is a high-end store, and the other a cheap and cheerful high street shop. Our first impressions tell us everything we need to know.
If you bear with me for a moment, lets take this a step further…
It goes without saying that we know the difference between a reputable shop and a guy on the street selling watches from his coat pocket. Obviously you possess better judgement, but for arguments sake lets suppose he managed to catch you during a moment of weakness.
Even if you were to buy a sketchy gold watch, would you just as happily give him your name, address, telephone number? Your credit card details?
Didn’t think so.
YOU NEED TO HAVE A GOOD WEBSITE
It all depends on your brand, target market, product and so on as to whether your website is more like Harrods or Poundland. However, I think it is fairly safe to say that you want to avoid your website seeming like the equivalent of a shifty street vendor.
And this is why the look and feel of your website is of paramount importance.
You need your customers to be able to tell straight away that they are in the right place, and on a professional website.
To achieve this, it must be user friendly, easy to navigate and laid out well. Fail to do this and it will seem amateur or, even worse, untrustworthy. Your visitors will dash off before they even get much further than the doorway.
So when you are looking at your own site, be as critical as you can. View it as if you were doing so for the first time and ask trusted friends to do the same. Ask yourself:
“is this website putting my brand across in the best way”
…and more importantly:
“would I feel confident if it approached me on a dark street corner?”
Well, I think you get the point.
WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR WINDOW?
So how do we encourage people to explore your website?
Say that you are outside a shop and you wish to buy a football. I can’t imagine why you’d want one in this weather but hey, that’s up to you! Anyway, looking at the window display you can see that you are in front of a sports shop. Good start.
However, the window display is full of winter sports items and the mannequins are in ski gear. They may still sell footballs; given the time of year you can forgive the display of a seasonal product range. The problem is you are busy and don’t really have the time to investigate what kind of store it is.
On top of this, there really is no need to…
You see, you have a special magic ability to move your index finger and be on any of the other millions of streets in the world just like this one, in front of any store you wish.
When you take that into account, why bother expending energy exploring this winter sports shop, let’s just move on – you can find one with football supplies in the window without any effort at all.
And Bang! That is all it takes for the first store to lose a customer. One who will never know that a whole department of football merchandise is just inside.
SO WHAT DOES THIS SHOW US?
- Your website can act as your online shop window
- The appearance of your website is vitally important in building trust with your customers and signalling what type of store you have
- Its layout needs to quickly let people know what you do and what you sell
- Your customers can instantly be at any other website, anywhere else in the world. They will use this power without hesitation if they don’t like what they see
All of this adds up to the reality that you need a well designed website, that communicates your offerings effectively and quickly.
The reward for making sure your website does all of this…more revenue for your business!
Look out for my next post where i’ll talk about how to transport people to your well-designed, professional and strategically stocked shop window