Working in digital marketing I spend a lot of time on the internet. In fact, without it my current job wouldn’t even exist. Whether it’s time spent on a client’s site or scouring the internet for PR opportunities from 9am to 5.30pm you can bet that I’m always on some form of website at any given time.
I’d hate to estimate just how much time I spend online both professionally and personally and whilst it all seems to blur into one, you do remember the gloriously good websites from the hideously bad ones. And the common theme amongst the good? Trust and a clear online narrative.
How to Create an Online Narrative?
Trust is a strange concept. We often attribute it to something we build up person to person, between one another. But, actually when it comes to the faceless interactions many of us make every day, whether it’s when we purchase something online, go on a web chat with a utilities provider or upload to social media – those are the interactions that take a whole lot of our trust in order for us to make them in the first place.
In my previous role I was involved with overseeing a website redesign and it opened up my eyes to just what should be included to create the perfect narrative in the digital world. What was going to make people trust us? How could we influence behaviour through design?
I don’t have a technical background, but I do know the kinds of things that keep me coming back to a website. They aren’t industry specific or even user specific. From the websites I read the news on, shop on, or even place clients on, they all incorporate some of the below factors.
Clearer Design and Layout
Web design can get pretty fancy if you want it too, and whilst it’s great we can do so much technically, it can be a bit of a nightmare to navigate for the user if things aren’t simple enough. If I can’t find what I’m looking for quickly, then you can guarantee I’ll be clicking the X button pretty fast.
You don’t need to go completely back to basics, but sometimes less is most definitely more. A website is one of the first impressions your business makes, so you want to make sure it communicates your brand and services clearly. Make your key informational pages such as your ‘about us’ and ‘contact’ details easy to find.
Every website needs content. However, there’s a big difference between having content for contents sake and content which serves a purpose and provokes an action from the audience. Your content should be of the highest quality. If you aren’t able to write it on site yourself, then get a professional to help.
The kind of content you need completely depends upon your business, but it serves as your chance to get your message across to customers. It’s much more than who you are and what you do. It’s about what you stand for, how your tone of voice comes across and the ethos behind your business. A website which has credible and helpful content is much more likely to turn visitors into a customer.
Creating a blog is the ultimate way to increase your content engagement further with your audience. You could have all the product and services pages you like, but taking the time to share your thoughts and explanations on wider industry issues can build up your online profile further.
A photograph can speak a thousand words, so investing properly in the imagery on your site can help take your business to new heights. Getting a professional photographer in to take the right shots can be expensive, but it all helps to give you the edge over competitors who have generic stock imagery splashed across their site.
Sometimes words aren’t enough to explain something or get across the right message. Imagery can help to fill that void and bring together the different areas of your site. Visuals help to build up the trust factor, especially where an e-commerce site is concerned. The more images you can show of a product the better.
Where Else Can You Be Found?
If you aren’t going to tell me where else I can follow you then that starts to ring a few alarm bells. In today’s digital world, there really is no excuse not to be on social media where your business is concerned.
Social media can have the most incredible impact on the success of your business, so make sure you share those platforms on your website. A wealth of surveys point to how trust is greatly improved when a brand is on social media, so don’t put yourself at risk of missing out.
Your contact details should also be prominent on your website. If you want to convert visitors into leads, then you need to ensure that you’re giving customers the opportunity to contact you. If your business suits it, then a live chat is a great way to create an instant dialogue.
The internet is completely faceless, so it’s important you make your reputation known online and take the time to establish yourself as a reliable business. Share who you’ve worked with or where you’ve been featured. It instantly builds trust with a potential customer if they can see your portfolio or press features. Be proud of your achievements, they can also help to win you more business.
If you’re an online retailer, then customer reviews can be the difference between making a sale or not. If you’ve got the fear of negative reviews, then remember that inevitably they will only arise if you aren’t doing your customers justice. Mistakes and bad reviews do happen, but it’s how you handle them publicly which makes all the difference.
Take the time to look at the kind of websites you frequent regularly. What is it about them that keeps you coming back or makes you trust them? Establishing what you personally look for when choosing which sites you visit can you to create your online narrative.