The internet is flooded with offers for web design and development, and many web owners do price-shopping and settle for website development that is cheap. The problem is that with a cheap website, we can’t expect strong branding and marketing potential because these websites are developed on a shoestring budget and the focus is on functionality and “good looks”. There is no research behind the design, no definition of what the business wants to communicate with the website, and no real grasp of how the website works into the larger marketing picture.
Below is a short homepage review for branding and marketing potentail of an NGO website, www.crkva.org.mk. The homepage is just one of the development ideas and is still not live. Consulting a Landing Page Optimization professional during the design process is a very smart move, a thing we don’t see too often in for-profit websites.
What is the role of a Homepage
As this is a faith-based, non-profit website its homepage is mostly a place where visitors should get a quick info about where they are, and what they can do on the site.
So for a homepage to answer the “Where am I” question, it needs to have a clear corporate logo, the name of the organization and a catch phrase of sort.
The “What can I do here” question can be answered with a keyword-rich navigation menu and an informative sidebar, perhaps with a Latest News section, some Social Media links such as the organization’s Twitter account and their Facebook fan page.
The proposed Homepage design does have a keyword rich navigation menu, and has links to Google Maps, a link to a calendar (probably an integration with Google Docs) and a link to the organization’s online library. It also has a dedicated Image Slider that can be used as a Latest News section, or can be a slider showcasing the organization’s primary activities and beliefs, which is great for branding.
Below it are three text entries that can be used for the organization to showcase secondary activities or alike. So, if the website uses this wireframe construct well, and populates the fields correctly, this homepage can be a good and effective tool for online branding and marketing of the organization.
How to improve the website
A homepage that has a good wireframe design to work with is set to become a good and effective part of the branding and marketing campaign. But as people say, the greatest enemy of a great page is a relatively good page.
So, a website can always get better by keeping tabs on visitor behavior on the site and pay close attention to how colors, shapes, fonts, placements of elements and tone of voice affect visitor behavior. There are best practices that can be followed in the initial design, but after a while, Google Website Optimizer can greatly help webmasters to test different elements and see which design works better.
In the current proposed design, the company logo can use a more professional rendition so that it can communicate corporate value with more precision. One of the most important branding elements for any organization is their logo, and this is why it is absolutely cricital to have a professionally designed logo. Granted, any logo will do, but on the long run, having a substandard design communicates a substandard set of values, whether the designer would like to see this or not. In a casual conversation with one graphics designer, he mentioned that when he works on a corporate logo with his team, the design process is fueled by art criticism, as if they are commenting on Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Shape, size, proportion – all these things are critical in creating a good design. No wonder good corporate logos cost big money. But this is one element where you absolutely DO NOT want to cut edges.
The use of blue color is a bit on the excessive side and although it’s used to provide a bit of visual dynamics, the scope of blue color is too large to achieve this goal. In these situations, it may be a good idea to travel over to Adobe Kuler and choose a color palette to use on the site. This will ensure a visually more dynamic but still balanced web design.
Site Structure and SEO
Although SEO and Landing Page Optimization Best Practices often collide, we’ll take just a bit of time here to talk about SEO and website structure without going into the LPO area and avoid controversies.
The website structure directly influences the URL of any web page, and as URL wording is in the Top 10 SEO pointers, it is very important to match a page’s title with the URL as close as possible. Using the prime keyword phrase in the Meta Description, in the text Abstract and Conclusion is also crucial, but as this Homepage is still under heavy construction, we won’t go into analyzing these details. However, the main issue here is that the site’s Navigation is written in Macedonian, while the URL site structure is in English. This will greatly undermine the ranking potential of any web page on this website because of the simple problem of not having URL and page Title worded properly.
This Homepage design proposal has a good scaffolding that can be populated with elements that anticipate and answer the crucial questions each visitor has: Where am I and What can I do here. The media slider and three blocks of text below it can be used to communicate the primary and secondary activities. The sidebar is populated with informative elements although it could use a Twitter and Facebook sharing button box to leverage the organization’s social footprint.
The Homepage’s color palette can use some more colors to create a more dynamic and engaging design. With a well reworked logo and a Search Engine Friendly URL structure, this site can be a solid branding and marketing platform for this faith-based organization.
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