In all my years in branding, I’ve always had a very nasty habit. Nasty and probably not smart business-wise, but something the customer always liked and that helped me hammer home the message, literally.
I would always mock-up their homepage. But instead of placing emphasis on the design, I would focus on the structure of the homepage and include ‘real’ copy. The result: the story comes to life for the client, and they get a preliminary UX which is a great foundation for the rest of the website.
I’ve always felt that your website’s homepage is perhaps the most important place your customer sees the result of the storytelling process and forms their first impression about you and your brand.
The internet has become more homogenous and uniform in recent years. The homepage is a stylized table of contents aimed to give your user a little bit of everything and to give them different options of learning more. It is the basis for a deeper and more meaningful conversation.
With today’s scrolling websites, you are telling a different angle of your story with each new scroll.
This is an Itemized List:
- Company Deck
- Investor Deck
Websites, primarily the homepage, provide a hierarchy of storytelling and a framework for evaluating your messaging and user experience before moving on to design and programming where revisions are usually costly and time-consuming.
Below, I bring an example of what I’m talking about in a project I did last year for Bank Discount’s new high tech subsidiary. Through the homepage alone, we’ve incorporated much more than what a typical UX process covers and much more than your typical storytelling.
The Big Idea:
‘Agile Banking’ was the lead concept derived from the storytelling process. It is both true to the nature of their offering and it also resonates with their audience — the tech sector, who are in constant agile development mode.
The key messaging in the top banner and the intro paragraph below is aimed at CFO’s and CEO’s while clearly describing the USP of the new department, offering bespoke banking and credit services for emerging startups.
Above-the-fold messaging is the heart & soul of messaging. It is the first impression. It needs to stand out, be different, but also crystal clear and entice you to scroll one more level down.
We developed a ’boutique’ positioning for the department, as that was their only real advantage over the other 2 leading banks who had more resources and were already established and recognised. We couldn’t win by comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. We needed to focus on feeling.
The word ‘home’ as in the home of Israeli Tech is often overused. So, we decided to get creative and poke a little fun at companies who use home in their tagline while communicating the boutique concept by turning the tagline into “The Loft for Israeli tech‘
At the end of the day, everyone seeks the personal touch and a quick response to their needs. Entrepreneurs are no different.
The Salon came up in discussions of what their added value could be and we felt it was a good idea to present it on the homepage and highlight a ‘soft power’ feature that would resonate with entrepreneurs who rely on continued networking opportunities.
In Hebrew, there is a great expression. Tachles. That means get to the point, what’s in it for me? This was a subtle attempt at informing our prospects that we can make things happen that others can’t quite do.
Part of the process included helping the client strategically understand the value of their existing assets. We thought the relationship with IDB NY and Mindspace had great ‘selling power’ even though it only came up in our 3rd or 4th meeting very matter of factly and they hadn’t thought about it in marketing terms or giving it such prominence on their communication materials.
A blog is a great way for a brand to establish a conversation. Forward-thinking companies include a window into their culture and knowledge base through a homepage blog. It also allows us to begin a content strategy conversation for Stage 2 once the site has been launched.
Once this stage has been approved by the client, you obviously need to dig deeper into the UX, especially for more complex projects. I either work with your designers or any number of top design studios in Tel Aviv & Berlin with whom I collaborate, based on the scope and nature of the project. It’s important to note that this stage doesn’t and shouldn’t replace a full brand strategy process, but it can be extremely beneficial for companies and startups who are thinking of creating a website and aren’t quite sure what and how they want to communicate.
Either way, I think you will agree that UX Storytelling (UX-ting) can present a more practical and cost-efficient way of telling your story and not wait till everything is designed before you pick your spots for what you want to actually say.