Every website is designed for the same purpose: attract visitors, gently nudge them into qualified leads, and to nurture those leads into sales. Cha Ching!
It sounds so easy, but it’s not. From design and development, to content creation, social media interactions, graphics and videos, live event coverage and so on – each marketing portal should be conceived and implemented in alignment with your brand and its target markets.
The clincher is that most websites were designed by Company A, are hosted by Company B and their development is continued in-house and/or by Company C. Company D makes their videos and a Yahoo! rep handles the PPC campaigns.
That type of compartmentalization makes for a disjointed marketing journey, which detracts from the user experience (UX).
Integrated Designs Take a Big-Picture Approach to Website Development
With the compartmentalized approach, the right hand has an idea of what the left is doing, but the hands are rarely, if ever, synchronized. The antidote to this is an integrated design approach, where website design and development teams work in tandem. An integrated website design takes a “big picture” approach to website development.
The target personas are identified and characterized ahead of time, then the rest of the website development is built to support their transformation from internet searcher to loyal customer. If there are noticeable or even subtle gaps between the aforementioned “compartments” it detracts from the UX, and visitors will move backwards, rather than forwards, through site navigation.
Here are things to consider when using an integrated design approach.
Forward-thinking companies use a responsive web design that attractively and functionally adapts its appearance in accordance the user’s screen. Rather than coding your site to work with Droid or Apple – this product or that product – responsive designs work well on any screen out there. It’s the ultimate example of integrated design, because your brand literally integrates across the current and future device spectrum.
While focus is shifting largely to the mobile market (with good reason), it’s still important to consider larger screens, as well as screen sizes that live between popular breakpoints. New gadgets are continually introduced to the market, and that will never change. By using a responsive design, your brand will look great no matter what screen sizes the techies have in store for us, and your site and its extensions will always be mobile-friendly to boot.
Think About Visual Continuity
During the initial design phases, visual continuity is the name of the game. But there can be a rapid-fire breakdown once the site is handed over to the marketing team or a content management firm. At this point, there is a disconnect between the original design/vision and the reality of day-to-day content creation that is the name of the game for social media relevance, eCommerce platforms, eBook and whitepaper offers, and so on.
Often, this valuable content creation happens here, there and everywhere. The sales team posts this, the marketing team comes up with that, and multiple third-parties are contracted to handle graphics, photography and/or video. Without a big picture branding approach, each of these will have a slightly different look – perhaps even different fonts or text/white space balance – with takes away from the visual continuity required to keep visitors and leads moving intuitively through the funnel.
Does Your Brand Look, Feel & Sound the Same?
In order to build brand recognition and authority, you need to look, feel and sound the same wherever visitors and leads may find you. Consider the following scenario:
You use Google and click on a top SERP link. The website it organized and fresh, it feels positive and had the information you were looking for. Yay! You click on their YouTube button only to find they don’t have any videos in their channel feed. Hm. You navigate back and click on their Facebook page, only to see a more disjointed and hodge-podge smattering of posts, the most recent of which was six-months ago. All of a sudden, your positive first impression has faded – the company just lost credibility.
Odds are, you’ll navigate back to Google and click on the SERP’s next result.
This is direct and natural response to a non-integrated design, one where things have been put together in a disconnected manner. Some of the compartments were maintained (website), while others were never built-out (YouTube), and the rest have been sporadically maintained and/or left to wither on the vine (Facebook).
With an integrated design, there is a comprehensive plan put into place. The plan is uniquely tailored to your brand’s concept, target markets and goals, and it is calendared and choreographed according to a time-sensitive schedule. None of the whole’s parts are left separate or forgotten. Each offer and campaign is a closed circle of its own, and also links solidly backwards and forwards to previous and future content. Thus, the user experiences a graceful navigation across all of your marketing mediums and channels.
Using integrated website design principles is an innovative way to provide the easy, useful, and pleasurable experience required for visitors and leads to convert.