Polish Like it’s Print

Trawling through web awards sites, it’s inspiring to see the cool campaign / niche sites created by the best digital agencies from across the world. Minimal content shaped around modern design allows for a super polished product with engaging interactions and focused CTA’s.

But the web is an ugly place and these experiences are rare. In general, the web suffers because of low expectations and the complacency this creates. This in turn filters through all aspects of the industry, and we see this every day on the websites of big brands and corporate’s. These are the same corporate’s that have a team of marketers working pedantically with ad agencies to create highly polished print and TV advertising.

So why can’t the level of polish and consideration of award winning websites / print advertising transfer into the deeper, content heavy websites? Well it can, but corporate’s currently suffer from two things:

  • a hangover from a time in which web wasn’t valued as a key part of the brand experience by management
  • the fact that unless you work in digital, you’re not comfortable with digital

So, here’s some tips for cleaning up the web:

Content first

I’ve never reached the third page of an annual report and been met with a whole page of content, so sub headings and an unformatted image; so why do we see so many websites with third level pages like this? To create a truly polished product, do what print designers do and start with the content first and design around it. Commence the content production by considering what you’re wanting your audience to achieve. From there, strip it right back to the guts of what you need to say and nothing more.

Polish the production

Great billboard advertising nails every element of the production. From the on-brand fruit bowl, to carefully cast actors that embody the brand persona; every aspect is considered and tactful. Very rarely is this level of branding factored into the web experience. Complementing great content with considered photography, animation and tactful user journey’s will help bring the page to life.

Keep it clean

When print ads are signed off, it gets printed and stays that way forever. When a web project is signed off, rarely do the designers intentions last for more than a few months. Pressure from upper management and lack of in-house digital knowledge means that websites often degrade quickly upon going live. Just because you can embed an iFrame, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you can fit another CTA on the page, doesn’t mean you should. Each company needs a well trained web Nazi that says no to Facebook widgets and is equipped to fully utilize the CMS to generate engaging web content. My colleague Todd Padwick wrote a great article about how locking down the CMS can help ensure a polished product into the future.

The web is going through a massive shift in awareness and the education process is ongoing. Leadership starts with agency effectively conveying the value and corporate’s backing this up with a digital savvy team that truly partners with their digital agency. Don’t be held to the low standards of the web; polish like it’s print and engage like it’s digital.