You may have noticed that we launched a new website a couple months back. It’s a major accomplishment for us because we put in a lot of thought and effort to make sure we got it right. A complete redesign can be a massive undertaking for any team. We want to take the opportunity to share with you what we learned to provide a better understanding of what it takes when you are ready to start redesigning your company’s website.
A redesign is often a chance to not only reset expectations but also take the opportunity to change how your company is perceived. We arrived at the decision that it was time to rebrand the company with a new color scheme and logo mark to demonstrate how serious we are about our commitment to changing expectations moving forward.
Starting at about the middle of 2015 we had a 3rd-party partner complete an unbiased Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit on our website, content, and keywords for our existing site. It was a very eye-opening experience that ultimately led us down the path of rethinking everything so we could tighten up our service offering to better display our capabilities.
1. Question everything
It’s a new day with new energy in the digital jungle here at White Lion. We wanted to start fresh. Everything including the logo, color scheme, and tagline were put on the chopping block. To make sure we were treating ourselves as a client, we stepped all the way back to the beginning and developed a new creative brief to uncover where we start and where we are headed.
A creative brief is a document used to gather information about a client during initial meetings, interviews, readings, and discussions before any work begins. We conducted a stakeholder meeting to verify all senior team members had a voice early on. This allowed us to think openly and work through new ideas that were put on the table.
Top 10 Questions Your Creative Brief Must Include
Find out what questions you need to be asking.
During early discussions, it was important to get everyone in the room talking so our design team could start listening. We captured keywords and took notes to explore creative ideas later. We made sure everyone had a chance to speak. We have found that the most compelling thoughts can come from differences of opinions that lead you down a positive path when creating.
2. Trust the things you cannot see
For our new brand, we thought through various color schemes from playful to sophisticated. We even tried an option that allowed us to hang on to the yellow from our previous color palate. Everyone on the team had their favorites. In the end, we all agreed on a direction and a lot of trust was put into our design team to bring it to life. It’s important to not get too lost in the details in the early stages. During the design process, we like to step away from our ideas a lot and come back with a fresh set of eyes.
Here are a few options we were considering in those rounds:
After all thoughts and consideration were presented, we landed on a final mark. The final mark is an uppercase ‘W’ that symbolizes a lion’s claw leaving its mark. A visually bold logo that encompasses strength and pride. The color palette was also intentionally changed to help us move away from the yellow/orange color of a traditional lion and move more towards a color palette that felt new and modern, regardless of traditional perceptions.
3. Create a strategy to develop your content
On a track parallel to design, we began thinking through written content. The temptation with most teams is to start designing as soon as possible. What you need to understand is that content is a design building block. Even before specific messaging, it can be extremely helpful to block out pages and type of content ahead of worrying about what you are going to say.
Think through the journey you are going to take your user on. Make sure that when they get to the end of a section, you have the next action in place ready for them to move to. This allows your users to navigate your site in a manner that works best for them, but it also allows you to guide them through a journey that doesn’t constantly lead them down a dead end.
We use UXPin to create wireframes that display a clickable experience we can all collaborate around. Doing this allows for one central area where everyone can review and comment. From there we assigned individuals to write specific pages.
Creating a wireframe is a happy medium between content and design. It’s like a blueprint because it has just enough information to read like a website, and just enough structure for design to build and design upon later.
4. Examine the voice and tone
Once we had a solid idea of what content we needed, it was time to make sure we set the right voice and tone. What do we mean by voice and tone? As MailChimp explains it, “Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you’re out to dinner with your closest friends, and a different tone when you’re in a meeting with your boss.”
For our website redesign, we constantly challenged ourselves to write more conversationally to ensure we were speaking to one person. We also realized there may be times when we could be speaking to various user types: like prospects, current clients, or people who are looking for a new career. We were very mindful of these users and tried to remain consistent in maintaining a friendly, helpful tone.
For more help on voice and tone, check out MailChimp’s Content Style Guide. They do an amazing job defining what this means by telling you how they do it.
5. Plan for custom photography
Killer photography was part of our plan for our new website from the very beginning because stock photography just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Stock photos often look cheesy and give a false look at what your company represents. Often, when you can’t find that perfect photo you end up settling for something that kinda works but are never really happy with. Custom photos add a humanizing touch because they reveal exactly who you are. They set accurate expectations of who your clients can expect to work with and better illustrate the work you do.
We lucked out with the best photographer ever, Chris Reichman. We planned for several collaborative team photos and individual shots to help build personality. Each team member took both a professional photo and playful personal interest photo. Chris exceeded our expectations and delivered unique angles, happy employees and custom poses unique to our business that was critical in bringing the site to life. I really can’t emphasize enough how important custom photography is to the success of your website.
6. Tell your users what you do
It’s important to be extremely clear about what you do. (Read our 7 Quick User Experience Enhancements for Your Website to learn more about how to achieve this.) Don’t be afraid to list your specific services to enhance your offering. I know when I go to a restaurant, I scan the entire menu before I gravitate to a specific menu item. Your users will do the same. However, they are probably looking to see if you solve their specific pain point. Don’t assume verbose language is enough for them to determine exactly what you do.
With our new website, we simplified our messaging on our home page and services page. Our goal was to make it absolutely clear that our users know what we do at a quick glance. Keeping it simple helps our users dig deeper into the relevant service items they are needing. Similar to a restaurant menu, doing this allows users to scan basic information and continue on their journey to easily find more information on specific services they want.
7. Add Some Personality
White Lion is a learning environment so culturally the blog has come to serve an important role. We all take turns contributing and sharing what we’ve learned. It’s part of our Core Values. Further, if you check out our Company Culture page you will see what it’s like to work for White Lion.
We use each one of these sections to demonstrate who we are and what we believe in. It’s important to show some personality because when people believe in what you do you build stronger relationships. It can also be very humanizing and make your users feel more comfortable about doing business with you.
What’s Next in the Digital Jungle
One of our biggest announcements with our new website is our commitment to Digital Marketing. It’s true that it’s no longer good enough to just have a website. You have to have a strategy for attracting eyeballs to your page, and ultimately your service. The web is always evolving so you need a plan to keep up.
The reality is that most people fail to realize how complicated it can be and don’t realize the amount of constant effort that needs to go into making your business a success. For White Lion, we plan to create more offers to target unique users to let them know more about the specific problems we can help them solve. To be honest, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we rest assured knowing we’ve got a plan.
Is your company needing a website overhaul with a complete redesign?
Are you tired of not getting what you want from templates that don’t fit your company’s custom needs? Our clients trust us because they know we are the number one team to put them into a mobile friendly website that will do exactly what they need. When you are ready, let us help you build a new website that you will be proud of.Contact White Lion