Designing a website is one thing. Injecting it with your client’s personality and identifying characteristics is something completely different.
Think about this. If you don’t take the time to design your client a website that speaks about their personality as an individual, business or organization, how can the site be effective?
There’s a lot of noise on the Internet and ANYONE can have a website. But just because a person or business has a website, doesn’t mean that visitors should start lining up. A site that gets a lot of traffic not only needs to be well designed, but it has to connect with its intended audience. Plus, it needs to reflect your client’s business image and this is where really good web design can help your client stand out from the competition.
In this post, I’ll discuss areas in which you can add your client’s personality to their website. Designing a website based on your client’s personality or business image makes it a far more relatable and memorable experience for the end user and makes sure that the right traffic is sticking around and has something to stick around for.
Designing a website that reflects your client’s personality requires you to ask questions first and design second. Good questions will tell you the things that you need to know to design the perfect site that will appeal to your client’s customers.
Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you want to ask your client:
The answers to these questions will serve as the basis for your whole website design. Sure, a website is colors, fonts, pictures and layouts, but it’s also about enhancing or creating a brand identity. In fact, everything has to come together just right to create that identity and sometimes the right font or the wrong picture is all it takes to make a website perfect or to ruin the entire image that you are trying to create.
People need to feel connected to the website. This is accomplished with clear communication that creates human connections. When that happens, a website doesn’t just get visited once; it gets revisited over and over and the company actually becomes a part of that visitor’s life – one that they want to share with their friends.
Once you understand the heart and soul of your client, you actually need to design the website. It’s time to take what you’ve learned about your client and give it a visual identity. Not only does a website’s design need to connect with its audience, but it’s got to catch the eye.
This means that you need to come up with some basic themes that you think will look good with the client’s business image and personality and then choose from them. Sometimes, your first theme will be passable but not perfect, so make sure that you sketch out the basics of a few different ones to determine what works best.
For example, you might have a client in the technology industry and while your first idea might be to build a high-tech website that utilizes all of the best post-modern design elements, a retro design might work even better because of the contrast between what the client is offering and what their site actually shows. The emphasis on not designing a high-tech website will actually highlight the fact that they are different than the other technology firms out there.
An essential component of website design is the layout. How you place the elements of the site will determine its overall success. Remember, you are trying to clearly convey the personality and identity of your client. You don’t want to muddle that up with a confusing layout.
A website’s layout should be appealing to the eye but not overly complicated. Navigation should be simple and easy to understand. The audience for your site will want to intuitively know how to navigate the site. Don’t discourage them by making the design challenging.
The basic rule here is that less is more. You want to make sure that they are able to access all of the parts of the site that they could want from every page, but you don’t want to have a bunch of links or buttons cluttering up the content. Stack buttons with expansion modules when you can and only include what is necessary.
Color is a design element that can differentiate professional website design from more amateurish efforts. You don’t want to overdo the color in your web design.
One option is to select one color that highlights and enhances the elements of your site and then stick with grays and white for the rest of your design. This allows key elements to pop.
A three color design is another good option whereby one color is selected to be the main focus and the other two colors highlight different areas of your website; such as for headlines and sub-headlines. No matter your color scheme, the colors need to reflect your client’s personality and identity.
It’s important to think about the meanings colors hold to ensure they align with your client’s image and overall message. For instance colors such as red, yellow and orange symbolize power, excitement and warmth; while blues, violets and purples tend to symbolize peace, serenity and calm. Colors have the ability to enhance or detract from your design and overall message, so it’s important to choose wisely.
It is also really important to understand what colors go together and which ones clash. Most designers have an eye for which colors fit together, but what you probably don’t know every color that works well with the main colors that you have already chosen. Most designers have some basic ideas on complementary colors, but it is important that you use a color wheel or another tool to determine if there is a color that you aren’t aware of that fits best.
You should also be aware of some free tools that will help you a great deal when it comes to designing websites as well as any other graphic design that you do. One example is Pixie, a free tool that will tell you the exact hexadecimal or RGB color identifiers that will allow you to match a color or at the very least, know which color you actually chose for a specific website element.
Don’t underestimate the typography you choose to represent your client’s message. You want the font to be unique but not impossible to read. A good rule to follow when selecting fonts for your web design is to select a simpler font for the copy on your web-pages. Save the more intricate fonts for headers and larger call to action statements. Your client wants to get their message out. Make sure the audience can easily and clearly read that message.
Another important point is to be consistent with the typefaces you choose. You don’t want a website that contains too many fonts. This can seem disorganized and unprofessional to your audience.
Another mistake that designers can sometimes make is to continue using the same fonts that they have installed on their computer. This is an easy error to make because you might have hundreds of fonts and you think that surely there is something that will work perfectly with the website design that you are working on.
The truth is, you are somewhat right. There is very like a font in your collection that will work well with the design that you are creating, but you still should check the web for some other fonts that you can try out to make sure that you have chosen the absolute best font for your design. There is no reason not to take the time to find something that you can’t live without, instead of just using a font that you can live with.
Images such as illustrations and photography can really help introduce a website’s audience to your client’s personality. For example, images can help capture quiet moments or feature key product offerings. As with other aspects of web design, consistency is key. Images on a website should be selected for their similarity in prominent elements. This enables you as a designer to tell a single narrative: the personality and brand of your client.
When dealing specifically with photography, it’s important to select photos that reflect the overall image of your client. If you are featuring headshots and or team photos, you don’t want them to appear stiff. A professional photographer can go a long way in helping capture the true essence of your client.
If you do not have access to a professional photographer, then you need to have access to at least one of the big stock photography websites, and ideally, memberships at several of them. In addition, it is important to try out the images before you actually commit to one. Using up your credits on the wrong image is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a designer.
One of the best tricks to use if you are supplementing your web design platform with Photoshop is to download the watermarked image from your stock photography site and then use the ‘Free Transform’ tool to get it to the right size without becoming pixelated. This way, you can see exactly what your picture will look like when it is actually added into the layout.
Sometimes you need to let your client speak for them self. Adding professionally produced videos to your web design is a great way for your client’s true personality to shine. They can tell their story in their own words and connect with their audience in a very personal way.
There are lots of ways that you can make videos shine. Adding a professional voice-over artist (which can be had for just a few dollars on service sites like Fiverr) will make a huge difference and then there are different techniques that you can use if you are not able to actually shoot the video with professional actors, wardrobe and sets like you would want.
Stock videography has been expanded hugely since the need for videos has grown so you can find business stock video with just about any scene you can imagine. However, even if you can’t, there are still options out there like whiteboard animation that can tell a story even without live-action video.
This is just a small sampling of some ways in which you can help inject your client’s personality into the website you design for them. Each great website starts with a simple narrative. If you don’t know the core of your client’s message, you will never be able to design a site that attracts the audience they desire.
Begin with a clear understanding of who your client is, what they stand for and what message they want to convey. From there you will be able to create a layout and select design elements to embody the personality of your client and create a memorable user experience.
Use every tool that you have at your disposal and make sure that your website is as good as you can possibly make it before you release it to your clients. There is a major difference between a website that the client accepts and one that they absolutely love and think it perfect for their personal or business website. Your reputation will grow much faster if you provide the perfect product every single time.