Redesigning a Website

We often get asked, “how often should I redesign my website?”, and we always respond with, “as often as you can”. We are realists, and we know how hard it is do do your own work. Sometimes we have gone 3-5 years in between sites, and others only 1-2 years. Our new website fell into the latter—with a new world post pandemic, we felt like it was the right time to renew and re-evaluate to face for the future. 

We approached our own re-design just as we would a new or even existing client beginning with research and discovery. Our first step was conducting a website evaluation on our existing site—a deep dive into our content, our code and analytics to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Next, we spent time understanding who we are—where we have been over the last twenty years, and who we want to be for the future. We brainstormed, took ourselves through our own personality and positioning workshop, and WROTE, and WROTE, and WROTE. These exercises all helped us solidify our point of view, our why, and our everything clearly and with focus.

We then identified our target audience and spent quite a bit of time researching their pain points and motivations for hiring a creative agency. We also took a good look at our competitors to ensure the way we were positioning and talking about ourselves was differentiated and unique. We did ALL of this before we started the design. Because the strategy is what does informs everything—visuals, user experience, typography, colors, messaging, writing, and even the work we showcase in our portfolio.

While there will always be new website trends to keep up with, the biggest benefits to a revamp are the opportunities to get crystal clear on future goals, and align them with how you want to communicate and visually represent yourself the world and your target audience. Our modern8 goals are to let you know that we are forward thinking and that we have a process we’ve been using for over twenty years to grow brands.

We’ve got a lot of strategic and beautiful work to show for it, and because we know who we are, we are comfortable and confident we can help you too.  

CRO and Messaging: Science Meets Art

In recent years the topic of CRO, or conversion rate optimization, has grown in popularity and become a pillar for many businesses serious about their online marketing effectiveness and strategy. While the importance of composing proper website messaging with an authentic brand voice has been embraced since the beginning of the digital age, focus on optimizing a website through CRO is a newer addition to the mix. 

 

Both CRO and messaging have their own unique value on a website. In this case, both elements complement each other, while proving a long accepted dynamic within successful marketing – that being the delicate symbiotic balance between the art and the science.

 

Think of messaging, or the copy on your website as the art. The words utilized must flow and have a creative spark to them that compliments any imagery displayed, while also telling a compelling story that should always be clear and concise. If crafted properly, the message should resonate with website visitors and prepare them for the next steps of the customer journey. 

 

It’s been said that website messaging should educate customers or clients of two imperative ‘why’s’. The first being “why you”, meaning why should they choose your product or service over that of the competitions. The second why, “why now” should persuasively outline why taking action immediately would be to their favor. 

 

By taking a careful, artistic approach to your website’s messaging, the end result can be a masterpiece in its own right. 

 

Shifting focus back to CRO, or the yin to the yang of messaging, we shall give the spotlight to the science in this equation. Conversion rate optimization, if established and maintained correctly, will use well crafted messaging as a springboard for increasing desired actions on the website. It will enable visitors to morph into interested followers, purchasers, and repeat buyers. 

 

By maximizing conversions while minimizing potential drop-off points along the customer journey, CRO can essentially transform the digital assets we call websites into powerful tools that create demand and can generate consistent revenue. 

 

Depending on what you read, the average conversion rate on a website is anywhere between 1% and 4% – which leaves plenty of room for improvement. But to capture any meaningful progress, there must be a clear understanding of how visitors interact with the website they visit. By providing visitors with more features that they enjoy utilizing, and offering the types of content that best capture their attention, a better experience can be shaped, and greater brand trust and loyalty can follow. 

 

By regularly reviewing data points like bounce rates, exit pages, cost per conversion, and other key metrics, CRO effectiveness can also be increased. Additionally, researching the competition may provide insights as to how other brands are capturing the interests, engagement, and purchases of potential customers and clients. 

 

Regardless of the balance between the art of messaging on your website and the science of proper CRO, one notion should always be embraced: a website should constantly be evolving. 

It’s likely time to inspect your website with a fresh set of eyes. Dream big, but focus on fundamentals, and always, always, keep updating for increased effectiveness with right brained artistry balanced with left brained computation.

The 4 Pillars of a Successful Website

Regardless of a business’s industry, online presence has a massive impact on its success. At the forefront of that presence should be a website that is memorable, easy to navigate, and a place that can generate leads and revenue. In our present day, the world has become a smaller place. Information is easily available and at our fingertips, and it impacts the way we receive and share information and live a quality life. Still, some businesses still don’t fully understand the importance of having a website that is modern and effective. Afterall, many customers will visit a website, sometimes dozens of times, before making purchases. 

 

When creating a website there are numerous key factors that will contribute to how it is perceived. At each step of the way, an effective website must capture the trust of the potential customer. The website must pass the eyeball test at each level to unlock the desired results that prove its effectiveness.

 

The fact is, effective websites don’t just happen. To attract and retain traffic, a website’s content, design and experience must all consistently, and simultaneously, be on point. 

 

Sadly, we’ve all experienced websites that leave much to be desired. 

 

Websites that don’t communicate a clear purpose, leaving visitors confused.

 

Websites that don’t have a simple, sequential user experience, but lackluster interfaces which lead to more confusion and skyrocketing bounce rates.

 

Or, perhaps the worst of the bunch, outdated websites that feel like they were designed and launched in preparation for Y2K.

 

At a8ency, we believe effective websites share 4 critical criteria: 

 

  1. Is it Clean? Is your website’s design aesthetically pleasing and inviting, or is lack of organization on parade? If you aren’t using contemporary designs and layouts, people may think you’re behind the times—and not worth their time or money. If it doesn’t look the part, it simply won’t perform the part.
  2. Is it Simple? Aim for less fluff and more simplicity. Whether we realize it or not, as humans we all crave a simple experience. It’s not just about the words you use. It’s not just the images. It’s how they are presented, and often how easy it is for people to find them. If your website experience wouldn’t be described as simple, it’s time to revisit the experience. 
  3. Is it Educational? Does your website communicate who you are, what you do, and what the next logical step is? Everything published should be keyword rich, while being timely, accurate, and ordered in ways that align with customer needs. Does it also inform visitors of your products or services with elevator pitch brevity?
  4. Is it Compelling? Does the site invite engagement and conversions for the business? Does it generate leads for the business? If your business needs sales to thrive as most do, your website must be compelling and be ready to capture transactions.

Branding Marketing

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We define branding as a strategic and emotional foundation that builds customer loyalty over time.

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Marketing is typically defined as the action of promoting and selling goods and services.

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We’ve often been asked if we also offer marketing, and, up until now, we’ve politely declined by stating that we are primarily specialized in brand design, then referring our clients to a marketing agency.

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However, we’ve noticed a gap between marketing and branding—they don’t always work synergistically together, and our clients are missing the opportunity to build brand customer loyalty in the short term and over time.

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So what did we do? We launched a brand-based, full-service marketing, sister organization to modern8—a8ency.

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a8ency is about creating compelling and innovative campaigns that bridge the gap between marketing and design, in order to reach your target audience.

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We are also excited to introduce our modern8 audience to a8ency’s Managing Director, Eric Dahl, who comes with years of marketing experience and will be leading the a8 charge. Eric will share his brand marketing perspectives and experiences, which will provide you with insights on bolstering the value of your brand.

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Your Brand Om

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As consumers, we’re pretty familiar with taglines and the general purpose that they serve.

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Some brand taglines have become so successful that they are well-integrated into our language and pop culture as normal euphemisms, such as “maybe it’s Maybelline or maybe it’s…”.

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But what goes into this deceptively simple element of your brand?

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Taglines are the memorable, compelling, and concise way to tell what your brand stands for and promises.

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They can adapt and transcend as time moves on, while carrying your brand’s essence, personality, and more.

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Taglines are built from a thorough understanding of your brand, and, once you develop a tagline, they should be used frequently and consistently to build cachet.

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“Brand mantras are poetry. And they are powerful tools, not just for building brands, but for building organizations.” – Chris Grams

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(The remedy for your dynamite brand)

Short and Sweet

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Headlines are a succinct way of creating brand-based communications that are insightful to your brand’s priorities, personality, values, and more.

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As a strategy-first agency, we believe in referencing the strategic columns of your brand in order to build any form of messaging.

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Because headlines are meant to be efficient and effective forms of communication, it’s better to build them strategically and relevantly for wherever and whomever they are placed.

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As prominent copywriter Eugene Schwartz put it, “There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.”

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Writing intentional headlines with focus also prevents them from feeling generic or, on the opposite side, from being so encumbered that you lose all understanding and meaning.

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A well thought out headline builds additional layers of visible character for your brand. Therefore, develop headlines that deepen your brand perception over ones that only exist to acknowledge and compete with the competition.

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“Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone.” – Fairfax M. Cone

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(You’re only as solid as what you build on.)

Brand Persuasion

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Your potential customers need to know why they should buy from you and your brand.

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You’ve done the research and spoken with your brand’s potential clients, and you’ve also spent time defining and understanding your brand and who you are.

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Now the task is to figure out how do you signal your future buyers and bring them into the fold?

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You need to speak to your audience using the right platforms (i.e., social media platforms, events, podcasts) where they exist, and utilize the right voice, tone, and correct message.

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Formulating the visuals and messaging takes creativity. Getting seen in the right place and gauging if it works is a science.

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“Don’t think that those millions will read your ads to find out if your product interests. They will decide at a glance — by your headline or your pictures. Address the people you seek, and them only.” – Claude Hopkins

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Assignment: Write about the last 5 headlines/ads that were served to you, and what you remember about where they were and what they said. What worked to capture your attention? Was it the words? the design? the placement?

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(Make sure they’re the right buyer…)

Know More, Know Better

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In today’s modern world, brands must be aware.

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It’s crucial to know and understand how other brands, including yours, are currently functioning and living within the real world.

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With how quickly the climate and trends can shift, you should initiate a competitive review process sooner than later, but where do you begin?

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Start simply by examining the visual look and feel of your brand, followed by your key positioning points, mission, values, messaging, and the like.

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These initial metrics are a great starting point for examining your brand’s uniqueness (or lack thereof) amongst other brands within your industry, as most of this information is likely readily available and provided by your competitors.

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As soon as you begin competitive auditing, it will be evident where your brand is strong/weak, outdated/innovative, distinctive/common, etc.

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A competitive audit is usually the push that brings about a rebrand and/or strategic redevelopment that better aligns with where your brand is today rather than where it began. After all, like people, brands do grow.

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(Somebody’s always watching. 👀)

Get the Picture

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So have you ever taken a hard look at your competitors?

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And do you know who your real competitors are?

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Completing a competitive audit will show you where and how you are positioned amongst your competitors.

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An audit will also help you discover where you must pivot your brand in order to have and maintain the competitive edge.

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A competitive audit can encapsulate a range of data, from understanding the competitor’s usual quantitative measurements to their more qualitative metrics, like world perception, values, brand aesthetic, and more.

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The purpose of a competitive review has a large function for your brand. You and your marketing should look, feel, and sound different (and better) than the competition.

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“An audit is an opportunity to build a complete understanding of the business and establish context for the branding solution.” 
– David Kendall

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(If you’ve got it, flaunt it.)

Be the Only One

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When you find the thing that only you can provide, it’s time to make that piece very important to your desired buyers.

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Locally owned Nielsen’s Frozen Custard went so far as to put their Onl Only on a sign — “Only Nielsens uses the custard freezing machine patented by Steve.”

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I’ve never thought about the freezing method for custard, but now I personally can’t help but think that Nielsen’s custard must somehow be better because of Steve’s invention!

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Remember you should let the Only Only be known by your buyers, especially if you are the only one who can get a job done.

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And the only people who are turned off by the message in your Only Only are non-buyers. Stick with the group who cares and identifies with your Only-ness.

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If your product or service is identical to other offerings out there, then you need to find something ownable that makes you stand apart, like Nielsen’s—clarify what only you can provide.

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Question: What Only Only, over the next 12 months, would drive an increase of value for your brand? It could be an increase through sales, desire, hiring, or whatever else. What Only Only can you provide and how can you message this to potential buyers?

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(It’s really that simple.)