WebDesign_Cover

If you can make a brochure, you can make a website, right? There’s a hitch: The Internet is different.

For a small business owner, the experience of designing a website might be similar to the work of designing a brochure or other sales materials. It requires vector artwork of the logo, sharp photographs or illustrations, insight into the target audience and the right words to persuade them.

However, many businesses founded before the Internet have difficulty when it comes to web design. For one thing, there’s a lot more surface area to cover. A whole digital landscape of unlimited dimension, filled with exotic shapes (like squares and circles).

Your logo is the first thing to enter this new world and it’s the cause of many new headaches. This image may perform well adorning your business cards and polo shirts, but web design will ask more from your logo than anything else. Do you have a rectangular version? A square version? An avatar or icon? Both highly detailed and minimalist versions? A one-color version? two-color? Full-color? And there’s more.

A brand is not just a logo and its variations. It’s the personality expressed through the pictures and words surrounding your business. If the logo is just one part of a body, the brand is like a whole person. It has a look, a voice, a past and even its own quirks.

Some companies spend hundreds of pages defining the qualities of the brand and its character. You may have one or two simple pages of guidelines you pay for employees to follow.

But online, you have  just one-tenth of a second to communicate your brand to the people who pay you.

To effectively use the Internet for marketing, you’ll need to re-evaluate your brand and identify holes in your business’ brand. Simply signing up for a Facebook Page imposes very specific requirements your brand may not be ready for.

For example, the profile pictures of all people and Pages on Facebook are square. A spread out, rectangular logo will be cut off on both ends if you try to use it as-is. Don’t settle for that.

If you don’t have a “stacked” version of your logo that will fit in a square, invest in graphic design services to get that done. You’ll also need a large cover image that represents your business. Decide: will it be a photograph or an illustration? Who’s in the picture, if anyone? These questions will stretch your brand.

Getting a new web design uncovers similar questions, but it stretches you even further. Here’s a sampling of brand-related questions I have to ask as a web-designer:

  • Do you have a stacked (square) and a long version of your logo?
  • What is your brand’s icon? For example: the small “rp” from Roundpeg or Coca-Cola’s bottle silhouette.
  • Besides the colors in your logo, what are two or three other colors that your business uses?
  • Besides the fonts in your logo, what other fonts does your business use? You should have one or two.
  • Do you use photographs, drawn illustrations or both with your advertising?

There’s so much more to web design (and your brand) than this, especially in terms of writing and brand voice. However, I hope you’ll answer some of these questions for your business before starting a new web design.

Have a question about these questions? Want help answering them? Contact us or leave a note in the comments.