Last week in my Emerging Media class, we studied the elements that go into making a corporate website that will make a lasting impression on visitors. A corporate website is a company’s No. 1 tool for creating a stellar first impression. If people want to learn about you, they will go to the digital source-your website.
To sum up some takeaways, your website should be:
- User friendly
- Targeted to more than just 1 target demographic (Consider a special site or sub-site for Hispanic customers complete with accurate translation, a youth version of your site, etc.)
- Full of compelling images that are more than just stock photos
- Easy to read; all font should be bigger than a size 12, as size 12 and below can be hard to read on mobile. Remember sans serif is easier on the eyes than serif, but serif can build credibility when used selectively.
- Mobile friendly/responsive
- Able to fulfill the consumers’ real needs versus the needs that the company THINK they must have
- Informative rather than annoying
- Easy to search
- Well organized
On the other hand, Buzzfeed compiled a list of “20 Hilariously Terrible Corporate Websites” in 2014. Since I love Buzzfeed lists, and I had corporate websites on my mind, I could not resist sharing some of these with you. Where did these well-meaning companies go wrong in forming a digital consumer’s very first impression of their brand? (Imagine the horror of meeting your future employer, a CEO, an important client and/or the Queen in your sweatpants!? Anyone can be looking at your site at any time, so it is always important to put your best foot forward digitally.)
- Cloud 9 Walkers.com
This site is bad on many levels, but the first problem is that the design requires one to “Click Here to Read About Us.” As a person with limited time, my first thought is, I just did that by clicking on your site! Why do I need to click again, exactly? A good corporate website respects that people have short attention spans and need information quickly and easily. They also have good organization and simple navigation structure. See No. 2 on the list in this article
about good corporate website design.
This site should re-read my “Do not annoy” rule, or rather do not cause your epileptic customers to have a seizure! This is all just too much, too bright and not very easy to read. Most people will quickly exit this site just for the sake of saving their eyesight. This article
explains the importance of appearance with good use of colorful, meaningful graphics and text that is easy to read. This website has none of the above!
This photo is retrieved from the article, circa 2014, and the website has changed since then. Before you breathe a sigh of relief, it is actually even worse, if you can believe that! The background now is far too busy, making it hard for visitors to concentrate on the content. And, the entire design still looks juvenile and very pre-millennium.
These are just three examples of corporate websites gone wrong in an extreme way, but there are many more out there that just hover along the lines of bad. Consider the elements that make a website great. One common pitfall that companies fall into is updating the photos/graphics periodically but leaving a mountain of outdated, irrelevant information just below the surface. This backlog of information only serves to confuse and bother. Ensure that when you are updating your website, you are updating below the surface as well. For example, links should work properly, embedded videos should play, company policies should be relevant, and staff photos should be recent.
Question for You: What makes a website great (or terrible) in your opinion? Please give an example of your favorite (or least favorite) website, and explain why you feel this way.
Feel free to comment in the comment section below or reach out via Twitter.