I never had any trouble with the branding or design of my clients’ websites. I developed a strong research background when I was writing historical fiction, which has served me well in my work. Before beginning a design, I always research my clients’ competitors, as well as the end users’ characteristics.
From that point, I’m able to work out a color scheme, choose relevant images, and create the content by using text, images or videos. Those features, in addition to brand logos, will help my clients define their business and connect with their potential customers or clients.
Designing my new website
When I designed my first website in 2013, I was writing books. I still have it and still love it. There’s something very primal about the geometric design. It’s black, white, gold and red with touches of blue It is simple but the overall effect is powerful.
I created my second website to promote my content writing services. It was simple as well; black and white with touches of red. However, soon after I finished it, people I knew commissioned me to create websites for them. As my skills developed, my website seemed too primitive. It lacked certain features that defined the contemporary classic look that was becoming typical of my style.
Researching the Competition
This spring, I realized I would have to build a new website from scratch. I went into research mode by looking at competitors, large and small. I soon realized that many design agencies experience the same problem in defining themselves. Browsing their pages, I had no sense of who they were, or what their design aesthetics were. Many, however, had admirable portfolios and technical skills.
It was then that I had a small identity crisis.
The End User
It’s easy to design when I know who the end user is going to be. For example, when I designed a website for Refine Medical Spa (medical aesthetic services), I knew that middle aged, urbane women form the client base. That fact alone defined the clean, warm, sophisticated look of the website.
Recently, I designed a website for a non-profit that works with middle aged people who were starting second careers. It was simple to choose photos of older folks who were engaging in various activities. I also settled for a pale green color scheme, which indicates renewal.
It’s also easy to design when the owner of a website has a recognizable portfolio or identity as a creative artist. I often work with an artist who has a very distinctive look and process. The work speaks for itself. It is only necessary to set it off in a clean and attractive manner, which can showcase the work.
Ideally, it is wiser to be a specialist than a generalist in terms of perceived value. Potential clients value and gravitate towards sites that have niched their work towards one profession, whether it’s medical practices, attorneys, or restaurants. However, in the beginning of one’s practice, until one has a strong portfolio in one particular area, one must present oneself as a generalist.
I have create sophisticated, clean, classic sites for discerning clients in the medical, creative, non- profit, and corporate sectors. However, I have not had a monopoly of clients in a single profession.
Consequently, I didn’t know how to portray myself. Consulting a colleague for help, I soon realized that I didn’t know what to emphasize. She advised me to become my own client. I then realized that I am primarily a storyteller. When I was writing novels, I used words. As a web designer, I rely on images and short to the point text to connect with the audience. My blog posts (including those I write for clients), relative to those of other people in my profession, are rarely technical in nature. I approach life, writing, and web design from the perspective of a story teller. It doesn’t resonate for everyone, but it’s more personal and a great way to make an emotional connection with the reader.
How Images Tell a Story
When you come to my website, I want to take you on a journey. The images are metaphors for that journey, from the faceless crowd in the opening Homepage video to the map, compass, and the lighthouse. The message: you will stand out, find your way, and not be lost in the crowd.
The theme of journeys extended to my About page, where I describe my life path and the skills I’ve acquired that aid me in creating websites. And the nautical images further extended to the Services page, where I explain what I do.
Branding and Color
I initially wanted to work with several shades of blue. The color implies trustworthiness and reliability. However, blue can become monotonous especially if it is combined with grey and a lot of white space. I soon added gold, in two shades, dark and light. Gold carries the symbolic connotation of wealth and success and it works beautifully with blue and white. Additionally, I found images and video that reinforced those color combinations. I then created a logo that reiterates the nautical globe I used on the homepage in blue and gold.
Resonating with your potential customer / client
Sure, it’s easy to resonate with an end user when you have a strong personal brand. It’s less simple when you don’t know who your end user is going to be. Small to medium businesses are a vague sort of catch all. I hope that my new website will attract and resonate with enough people who will want to work with me while I develop my niche.
Finally, it’s wise to remember that your branding design can change. As long as the framework is good, you can change your images, and refresh your content. As you and your business grow, you can add pages and develop into new areas, such as video.
Social Media Branding
Branding a business or personal website is the first step of the journey to success. The next step will be branding on social media. Your social media branding should always be in sync with the overall look and feel of your website. But that is a topic for another post.