Having a website is unquestionably the most effective marketing tool you can have as a graphic designer (or any company for that matter), especially if utilized correctly. A successful online presence demands having a website where visitors can learn, easily identify and clearly understand how you can help them.
In most cases, an award-winning portfolio just won’t cut it when a visitor stops by your site. Your website needs to capture their interest for enough time and provide the essential information for which they will want to take things to the next step. Below are 9 essential elements that your design company website should have in order to increase your rate of being contacted, meet your visitors (prospects) needs/desires, gain trust in a “faceless” internet and grow your business online.
While most of you just read “a homepage” and thought, “Well duh! Of course I need a homepage!” — it is important to remember that your first page is the most important. This is where clients will decide whether or not to continue exploring your website or leave.
Make sure your homepage is concise and to the point. Focus on how you can help your visitors. Intrigue them into wanting to learn more and how they can benefit from your services. Focus on them not you! Think about it… how many designers and studios out there state on their homepage that “We are designers and we create logos and websites’? Differentiate yourself.
In a world where everything is online, having an ‘about’ page is a must. It provides a “face” and personality to an otherwise, “lifeless” website. You want to convey that human interaction feeling. This helps in building trust with your clients, which is extremely important. Include information such as photographs of yourself or your team, credentials, and background information. Give your visitors a reason to work with you.
Make certain the photographs are warm and welcoming and that you don’t ramble. Be sweet and to the point. This is also where you can differentiate yourself further from your competitors, but make sure not to sound arrogant or bash your competitors! Instead, sound confident and tactful.
I find that a lot graphic design company websites mix their services into their ‘About Us’ page, making it harder for your visitors to learn what you do and can offer them. When identifying your services, be clear and use terminology clients can understand.
Stating your company builds websites using the CSS and PHP means nothing to non-techies. A better statement would be “We build websites based on the latest web standards providing the best possible solution to your company”. Sounds much better, right?
If you’re a new business this section might be difficult to include, but having a client list leaves a huge impact on your visitors. They like to know that you are a professional and have experience. It also helps your visitors feel connected and confident in your work, especially if you have completed work for similar clients in their market. Like your mother always said, “Your judged by the company you keep.”
You can also provide a link to the clients samples, which would further help your visitors navigate around your website.
When showcasing your portfolio provide samples of your highest quality and don’t show everything — Leave room to be desired. :) Also, if it’s a certain type of work your after, you should place more emphasis on it. If you don’t enjoy doing logos, why would you show ten logos… just to get ten more? Focus on what you enjoy or specialize in — In most cases, this is your best work anyways.
Provide a statement or two about your samples. This helps your visitors understand your design process and builds trust based on understanding. Even listing the project goal or overview gives meaning and provides an understanding to your portfolio. Remember, design is about communication and problem solving.
Also you might have noticed I keep saying “samples” instead of “work”. The word “work” just doesn’t sound inviting or enjoyable. “Samples” sounds more like a scientific approach to design, as if the designs have meaning (as I hope they do).
A good majority of my freelance work comes by referrals, so why not carry that same idea over to your website. You’d be surprised how important client testimonials can be to your visitors. Even providing a link underneath the brief statement in your portfolio section would be great place.
The more pages you have your contact information on the better, especially having its own page. Provide all the details in which you would like prospects and clients to contact you and make sure it’s easy to find.
While the above contact information makes it possible for a visitor (prospect) to contact you, a contact form makes it easy! The less steps it takes for someone to get in touch with you the more likely there are to connect with you. Provide at the very least an area for their name, email address, and message area.
You might want to create a telephone number area, but I would not make this field mandatory. Some people are a bit tentative to putting their phone number on the web.
If you’re a designer/developer and haven’t jumped on board yet with blogging, then what are you waiting for? Now I’m not saying you have to go all “pro-blogger” on me, but even if you post every few weeks about a creative design process for a logo you completed or an article you thought your clients might find interesting about ‘naming their new business‘– it helps to bring more personality to your website and lets your visitors get to know you better on a more personal level. Every company should have a blog.