You’re passionate and knowledgeable about the work you do, but sometimes that gets in the way of convincing others how important it is. More than half of the visitors to your website will spend about 15 seconds on your homepage or any other page for that matter. Holy crap! I think many sites will fail this test.
What’s the key to breaking this? Show more, tell less. Show what your mission/product is. Show your impact. Show the reader what action they need to take. The rest is icing.
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We all know that marketing campaigns can help raise your organization’s awareness, but did you ever think that your brand could as well. Marketing is an important part of branding, it’s how you promote yourself and communicate with your customers, donors, or supporters. Your brand is the core of what you do and why you do it. It should not be ignored, because when it’s done well, people remember you and take you seriously.
Be consistent and have standards
If the collateral and materials you create — from the website to postcards —use different fonts, colors, and style of imagery, then it’s time to get it together. Everything should look and feel consistent, even the tone of voice.
Special events, conferences, or marketing campaign can break this rule from time to time. Think of it as the brand is your personal style of dressing, speaking, the heart of how you are. Sometimes, for certain events, you might dress more formal or casual, but it doesn’t change who you are. Also, please treat your logo with respect. Make sure it’s always visible, and whatever you do, don’t distort it. That screams “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
In order to be consistent, you have to be organized. Make sure you have a naming convention for your files, and that anyone who looks at them will know what to use. Using a cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox can be a big help. Then you can share files easily with others and access them anywhere.
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Being unique is probably the most challenging of the three ways. It takes guts to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at your competition. And don’t tell me that you don’t have competition because you do. Who are the organizations working on the same issue you are or have a similar mission? You might not be directly competing with them, but you work in the same “space.” If your brand gets lost in the crowd, doesn’t resonate with your audience, or doesn’t match your organization anymore, then it’s probably time for a rebrand.
Launching your new website can be stressful
I get it, you’re strapped for time and money. So you found a cool looking template (or theme) that comes with everything you need for your new site. It looked really good on the preview site, and you thought, “awesome,” but now you’ve added all you own content and images and it’s not working. Something isn’t right and you can’t put your finger on it.
Templates are always awkward without some tweaking
You’ve asked for feedback from a few trusted colleagues and everyone confirms your suspicions. There’s too much happening, they’re not sure where to click first, they don’t understand what you’re trying to say. So, what now?
Make your site authentic by putting your audience first
It’s time to take a step back and really think about what your audience needs, what you want them to know, and what you want them to do. Yes, this means that you’ll be making some programming and design changes to the template you bought, but honestly, that’s a good thing. Very few organizations can take a cookie cutter site and make it work for their content. Yes, it makes things a bit more complicated, but it’s better this way. You want a site that people are going to understand what it is you do, how it helps them, and what actions they need to take. If it takes them longer than 5 minutes to figure this out you’ve probably lost them. Why? That’s all the time they can spare.
For a superior website think clear, short and engaging content
People will usually skim a page first to get the overall gist of what you’re offering. So write as clear and concise as possible — think buckets with subheads, and use bulleted lists when possible. Remember not to overwhelm your audience with too much information, or choices.
Your home page should say:
- what you do
- what they will gain, or what the benefits are
- and what action they need to take
How you do this is where the beauty comes in. Crafting sentences that engage, visuals that inspire, and calls to action that excite, takes practice. The beauty of the internet is that you can easily keep tweaking and make adjustments, even to a live site.
So take a step back, reassess your site, adjust as needed, and launch that sucker already. Don’t wait for perfection, he’s an elusive boyfriend.
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