A field guide – 10 popular website design creative strategies

Website Design Ideas: Understand The Trends

vortex-creative-strategiesIf your organization’s sales and marketing efforts have an online component, looking at website analytics is probably a regular activity. Depending on your goals/results, a change in SEO, blogging, email and site messaging may be called for. In some cases, a total website redesign may be the best course of action.

While there are literally thousands of creative approaches a website redesign can take, the number of possible strategies is more limited. Deciding on which strategy is right for you is an important part of the design process.

Which Creative Strategy Makes Sense For Your Organization?

The following creative strategies are some of the commonly used approaches for online marketing. Each can be effective in developing a strong, engaging presence.

The nature of your product or services along with the needs and expectations of your market should determine the direction that’s most appropriate for you. A great strategy alone won’t guarantee success. High-quality content must support every aspect of your approach.

1. The Shop Window

Example: Paypal

On Paypal’s website, you’ll see a short video loop of a business scene. The visual strategy along with the subject matter suggests that Paypal understands and helps make their customer’s business successful.

Analysis – This design/programming approach started gaining traction 3-4 years ago. The appearance is simple, engaging and memorable due to the artful way the scene is cropped, which suggests that the viewer is “behind the scenes”. A front and center call-to-action is hard to miss. At this point in time, most viewers are familiar with Paypal’s business model, so the company can put energy into building brand perceptions instead of explaining product or service advantages.

This approach can work well if your organization is focused on brand-building more than explaining product or services. Another candidate for this approach is when none of your competitors have tried it, and you can garner attention for being an innovator in your sector.

2. It’s As Easy as 1-2-3

Example: Square

Square’s strategy keeps the home page very simple, and clear. Most site visitors know what the product does, the communications challenge is to demonstrate how simple their product is to use.

Analysis – If you have a product or service that can solve a business challenge in a simple way, this approach may be ideal for you.

A large number of companies tend to put too much information on the home page of their site in an attempt to appeal to all visitors. A more effective approach may be to use landing pages in addition to the website home page to communicate to buyers in different phases — prospect > lead > customer > supporter.

3. The Turnkey Specialist

Example: Jumpfly

This approach is often used by companies who want to communicate that they are a turnkey specialist offering a simple solution to a complicated problem.

Analysis – This creative strategy is aimed towards a persona profile that likes/needs to outsource services for a variety of business reasons. In this case, Jumpfly is suggesting that managing pay per click is complicated, and they can do it more efficiently than anyone else.

Making claims about service can raise concerns for buyers, so the company has effectively added information about their ratings, a guarantee and industry recognition to help make their case.

This approach works well if your organization wants to portray itself as a specialist. If you choose this direction, make sure that you have statistical data to back up claims of service and success.

4. The Gateway

Example: Getty Images

Getty Images is a well established brand for sourcing stock imagery. They also operate several other brands that appeal to varying segments of the marketplace. Rather than focusing on message, the approach is about ease of use. In this case they put the stock imagery search window front and center.

Analysis – The creative strategy assumes that people visiting this site already know what they want, so providing the easiest path to find it is the best solution. The user simply has to type in a search term or image number to get started. Beyond the home page, the quality of the search tool and library of imagery is everything. Getty offers one of the largest collections to search through with an easy to use tool.

5. The Bottom Line

Example: Holler

You’ll find this strategy commonly used by creative services agencies, but it can also be effectively used for products that offer unique features in their category. The approach presents the product or service deliverable in the form of “a bottom line” benefit statement.

Analysis – The approach presents Holler (UK) as a provider of clear effective brand communication, without bogging the visitor down with detail. The fact that the home page is so easy to understand, it intrigues you to make at least one more click for additional information. It’s elegantly simple, memorable, and creative.

Example: Leon Cosgrove

Analysis – Another example of the “bottom line” approach is the Leon Cosgrove law firm website. The attorneys want to separate themselves from the competition, and use their “own approach” to each case as one of the bottom line benefits. While the symbolism of the imagery is a bit of a leap, it stands out from the competition.

6. The Passion Play

Example: Purplerockscissors

This strategy puts a passion for excellence front and center. The creative agency uses multiple sliders to present qualities that help them to stand apart from their competition.

Analysis – It can be creatively dangerous to talk about your company features as opposed to benefits. It requires more of a commitment on the part of the user to navigate further to learn more. This execution is successful because they’ve done it in an authentic way, it’s totally believable and online, that counts for a great deal.

7. The Gallery

Example: Avedon Foundation

The gallery strategy is typically employed by photographers, artists and visual effects companies. It can be used to showcase a product if aesthetics are a primary message point. The home page design features a prominent visual.

Analysis – Brand identity in this strategy is usually secondary. The concept is that the visual speaks for itself and if you want to see more, proceed further. There are a number of companies offering content management systems based on portfolio approaches, which has spawned a new generation of easy to build artist websites.

Up until a few years ago, artists relied solely on their artwork to do the marketing, but the sheer number of artists relying on their art alone has given rise to more sales-oriented strategies that are based on inbound marketing principles.

8. Help Our Cause

Example: PETA

This strategy is usually employed by political and non-political organizations championing an issue or belief. The creative approach is based on generating an emotional response for sympathy or support.

Analysis – The success of the strategy depends on the message and visual. The larger pool of web visitors you can “connect” with by visual means the better. Familiarity and trust in the organization is built AFTER the emotional response and desire to participate is developed.

9. The Report Card

Example: Rockefeller Foundation

The creative strategy is based on quickly presenting the focus and accomplishments of the organization. This approach is often used by community-based organizations.

Analysis – This approach gets to the point quickly. The message is that the organization is doing or funding work to address community-based or global issues.

The strategy is effective because it is self-effacing and audience-oriented. These sites are in effect saying “the issue is more important than the people behind it”.

10. Today’s Special

Example: The Gap

This strategy can be found in wide use by catalog and retail organizations offering any type of Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) merchandise where price can be a great motivator.

Analysis – The creative strategy is to put a compelling offer front and center. The key to success is to make sure the offer fits within the brand style guidelines and also reflects a current trend or high value proposition. Creating a sense of value and urgency is achieved by balancing price information with product visual.

Can these strategies work for you?

Before you and your design team jump into creative executions, you should review and update your buyer personas and include an assessment of your competition’s online strategy.

Once you have a clear picture of what type of creative strategy you want to pursue, make sure you develop alternative executions within the strategy and test them on your audience segments to find out which approach works best.

Need web design creative help?

For more information on website design strategies, give us a call, or read my blog on using online search to identify a design or inbound marketing firm.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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