Your organization has a story to tell. The details of the story include how and why it was founded, what its goals are, who the principal characters are, and all the things that you do—the action.
Were you to have the opportunity to sit with a prospective customer, donor, member for a few minutes, you could probably weave a compelling story for them while waiting for your Iced White Chocolate Macchiato be made by the barista.
If you were to take all the elements of that story and incorporate them strategically into your website, you could give that same personal storytelling experience to all your website visitors.
That’s an incredible long-term marketing opportunity!
But, achieving this is easier said than done, and you may want to call on some design professionals who are used to translating a story from one medium into another. They do this through visuals, content, video, and design.
Visual design is the first thing your viewers notice, and it sets the tone for your website through the imagery it creates using:
- Background Colors
Effective web design relies on clear, focused web copy that clearly communicates your company’s vision, values, and awesomeness.
Video enhances your storytelling and greatly boosts engagement through capturing attention in ways that words or static images can’t quite manage.
Does a visitor click around to find what they want or is it all laid out in an infinite scroll? Is it interactive and dynamic or static? The overall architecture of the website can be another way to reveal your brand and tell your story.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind during this process whether you are planning the website or working with a designer:
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
All stories need to have their audience in mind from the start. If Stephen King sits down to write for first graders, he’ll probably leave a few of his horrifying ideas in the toolbox.
For your website, you’ll need to better understand your web visitors in order to create an engaging story for them. Who is coming now and do you expect that this will remain the case? Clients? Potential clients? Partners? Members? Prospective employees? All of the above?
Why are they coming, and what do they expect to get out of their visit on your website? Certainly, there are bits of the story that everyone wants and needs to know and then there are chapters that are only of interest to a segment. Keeping the flow of the story going and making it highly engaging for whoever visits is part of the challenge.
CREATE A CONNECTION
Is your website reflective of your brand and its story? No matter what its current state, your visitors will have some sort of an emotional response, even if it’s a bored yawn. This usually occurs on a subconscious level and the first waves of it occur within milliseconds.
A web designer can help combine imagery, color schemes, text, animation to integrate your brand elements and your story into the design. The choice of colors is important because they can affect our mood.
SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE
On a website, you can’t write a long paragraph to communicate your message because no one has the patience to read that on a website. You may only have a few seconds to show who you are and engage the visitor.
In this amount of time, you need to tell who you are, what differentiates you, what you do, and what action your visitor should take next.
An animal shelter called DogRescue.com might greet you with a picture of a beautiful dog and the text of the homepage might give its name, the fact that they are a “no-kill shelter,”—the only one in the area—and then a pop up picture might then show Fido, the “dog of the day” who is ready for his forever home.
Within a few seconds, the DogRescue folks have established what they do, how they are different from other shelters in the area, what a rescue costs, and what they want you to do—take home Fido today.
ORGANIZE AND STRUCTURE YOUR CONTENT
A good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Longer stories are often organized into chapters in order to create structure and to guide the reader to the end of the story.
On your website, the navigation and how the content is laid out leads visitors through your site. The challenge with a website is that there is always more than one path, more than one purpose to design for. If you haven’t organized the content in a logical and intuitive navigation, it’s easy for visitors to get lost and then close the book on your story.
On each page of your website, a web designer can also use visual hierarchy, which refers to the arrangement of text and objects in order to influence what the human eye perceives.
A designer can use larger font sizes, different fonts, and certain headings to indicate the headline text and then use smaller font sizes for subheadings, so that the visitor reads the content on the page in the right order.
INVITE THE VISITOR INTO THE STORY
Finally, the most powerful stories make us feel part of the tale. They motivate and inspire so much that we may change our actions and beliefs after reading them.
That is the goal of storytelling on a website as well. Calls-to-action on the website are one of the best ways to tell a visitor what to do next.
But storytelling in web design can also help you influence a visitor. Use the messaging, design, and interactive components to tell the visitor what happens at the end of the journey. The more vividly you can describe the happy ending of working with your team or doing that next step, the more motivated a visitor will be to engage.
A website that tells a story becomes more than a place to get leads or make sales. It becomes an ambassador for your entire brand that represents not only what your company can do for individual clients but also how it can make them a part of the company’s overall mission. Your visitors will stay longer and leave with a desire to forge a stronger connection with your company.