When we start off a new site project, one of the very first things we ask for is messaging for the homepage. What do you want your website to say? This can be hard, and sometimes takes time. But we won’t start the project without it. Then, we get these questions: Why is messaging so important to design? Can’t you start without it? The short answer is no, but I will expand upon that here.
Your Website Needs a Map
To get anywhere unfamiliar, we need clear instructions. The same goes for your website. We need to clearly define where we want to direct your users before we give them a new car to get there in (aka your new website design).
Ask Yourself: Are you giving your users the map to where they want to go?
Where Am I?
Most maps at a mall have a “You are here” indicator. This helps mall goers orient themselves, and then they can look for what they need. Your initial messaging should be the “You are here” indicator. Tell people that they are in the right place for XYZ. Subsequent messaging will show them where they can within your site.
Ask Yourself: Is your initial messaging more about marketing or orienting your visitors?
Picking the Right Car
Great! We now know where your users are going! Now we need to provide the appropriate vehicle for your users. Hummer? SMART Car? Porche? Well, that all depends on where they are going. You see, if we didn’t have our map, we would get the standard mid-size sedan, probably in blue. Not having a map for your users gives you a very bland, standard website. And no one wants a bland, standard website if they can help it.
Ask Yourself: Are you willing to take the time to have a map for your users?
It really comes down to the fact that the content of your website is more important than the design. (I know, I know, shocking coming from a web designer.) However, your design is going to bland and ineffective if you don’t have the appropriate map. The design is there to support and enhance your content. A great design is not going to cover up poor content. (Though if your web design firm, you might want to find another one. Have you considered eMagine for your next B2B website?)