Early last year, we were contracted to redesign a website for a large multi-national corporation. Our design directive was to keep the aesthetics basically the same but to improve the navigation and administrative elements. In the middle of one of our design meetings, the CEO stopped the meeting and asked everyone in the room, “What is the purpose of our website?”

This question started a very intense and important discussion among the corporate executives. “What exactly IS the purpose of our website?” “Who are we trying to reach?” “What is our story?” Their existing site had a direction and focus, but a redesign was the ideal time to revisit those aspects and hone their message, to make sure that their website told their story.

The Common Thread

Every website shares a common mission… user engagement. We all want our website visitors to scroll through pages, click on links, and read our posts. Our reasons why vary greatly. For example, perhaps you are trying to drive sales of your new widget while I’m trying to educate the world on the dangers of broccoli-flavored bubble gum. But we both know that the best way to accomplish our respective goals is through user engagement. We want our websites to tell a story, to inspire our audience to click “Read More”, to answer the question “What is this here for?”

Determine Your Story

There are three questions you need to answer on your way to determining what your story is.

First, who are you trying to reach? Are you trying to reach customers, investors, family members, researchers? Are you looking for people interested in a very narrow niche segment? Your story should convince people that they should be interested in your content.

Second, how do you measure success? This will come directly from the purpose of your site. Are you trying to sell something? You will measure success in sales. Are you trying to spread a message virally? You will measure success in shares and backlinks. Are you running a social media site? You will measure success in the number of user connections. Craft your story based on your measurement metric.

Third, what is your main bullet point? You have mere seconds to convince your visitor that they have reached the right place to find what they want. You want your main point to be immediately understood and spark reaction.

Write Your Story

So how do you translate these three questions/answers into an applicable storyboard for a website? Start by creating the framework you will use to best tell the story. Consider every element, color, and shape. Carefully craft the words with special focus on what vocabulary will resonate with your core audience. Use the available screen real estate wisely. Maximize the effectiveness of the space by optimizing placement and efficiency. Ensure that every element, photo, button, and tab have a purpose that stems from the story.

Most importantly, be compelling. Use engaging pictures and words to draw your user in and create a desire to click through and view more. Cultivate a positive reaction through creativity and relevancy.

At High Road Digital, we love to tell stories. We also love to work with people to help them develop and tell their stories through marketing. Let me know how I can help you put your pen to paper and start writing. Drop me a line at kyle@highroaddigital.com.