06 Jul How to Communicate Your Brand Through Web Design
This week we came across Nathalie Nahai, a psychologist who studies the relationship between virtual environments and our human behavior and thinking. In her bestselling book Webs of Influence, the Psychology of Online Persuasion, she explains how understanding how and why we behave on the Internet can offer us tools to develop better designs, better content, and, in general, better web pages.
The theory is that we generally spend about 8 seconds on a page before deciding whether to close it or not, so the goal is to try to retain the observer’s attention during this short time span. Nahai concludes that there are many factors that influence that decision, and some of those factors include the navigation of the site and the visual elements of the page.
A large part of an effective marketing strategy is to dominate the visual image you project since many of the memories we harbor from brands are based precisely on what we see of them. Think of the typeface and the iconic red and white color of Coca-Cola, for example. It’s an integral part of the brand identity.
If smell was our key sense during the prehistoric era, researchers now conclude that sight is the primary sense that shapes our experiences. 80% of what we experience through marketing is visually based. Each image, photo, drawing or visual concept has an impact and sparks different emotions (whether positive or negative) in the observer.
That being said, what visual elements should we take into account when designing our website?
Typeface is a crucial visual element to communicate your brand because it expresses attitude, emotion, and perspective. Serif fonts, for example, are easier to understand than sans serif and project a professional, academic and serious attitude. Sans serif fonts reflect more modern, more informal behavior. Companies like Apple and Google often use sans serif to invoke the feeling of being at the forefront, while serif is more for newspapers, for example. It gives off the vibe that the information offered is important.
Colors are also powerful visual resources. 62% -90% of purchasing decisions are based upon the colors of the brand or product. Why? Because studies show that 80% of our brand recognition is based on color. Color advertising attracts 42% more attention than images in black and white. Color improves reading by 40%, learning from 55 to 78%, and comprehension by 73%.
Each color causes a different emotion in the receiver. The more bluish, green and purple colors, for example, relax and give confidence (think of Facebook). Red colors, however, generate a sense of importance and urgency. Greens are often associated with nature, peace, and optimism. Also money and growth. Yellows remind us of youth, playfulness, and energy. Neutral colors like white, gray, and black could bring about feelings of openness and space, but can also overwhelm and bore. Likewise for gold, although this one tends to evoke elegance and prestige.
(Side note: the magic of getting the colors right is in how you choose to combine them and what contrasts you choose, i.e. brightness, hues, etc. The connotations are infinite and also vary culturally. For example, in Brazil purple is associated with death, while in China white is. There’s no doubt: to avoid any faux pas, you need to take your audience into account when choosing your colors.)
How you structure the page also influences how the observer perceives it. White space, for example, creates feelings of tranquility and ease. Cramming all your information on your site, on the other hand, is terribly uninviting. The more white space you have, the more you offer a clean, neat, and easy-going appearance. The reader will pick up that it’s easy and comfortable to work with you.
Having titles and having them in bold also facilitates comprehension and reading flow. It’s also a good idea to separate everything into paragraphs since no one’s interested in reading long, hard-to-read texts. Don’t make your audience think too much, or force them to find out what they have to do. If the user isn’t sure what to do or where to go, he or she will lose interest and will most likely close your page. No one likes to waste time.
It’s important to emphasize that the intent behind these principles should not be to manipulate or deceive people into buying your product or service. It’s about communicating your brand effectively. To look for a connection. To foster human relationships. The goal isn’t about generating conversions (although if they are generated, great). It’s not about convincing, it’s not about cheating. The design of your page seeks to reflect who you are and the values your company upholds. Period. It’s about being authentic, honest, and transparent. And showing it.