The term “remarkable” means being worthy of notice or attention or, in the context of Web development, naturally persuading the viewer to mention or recommend a website to a friend. Developing a remarkable brand for your website means that people will likely give credit or refer to your website voluntarily, which is a big bonus when you are starting to build and develop your website.
Any niche or industry has hundreds or thousands of websites all based on the same topic, but from the crowd always emerges a bunch of websites that re-appear time and again. These websites are often mentioned in conversation and cited as sources of information or are the homes of highly sought after products. Given their high profiles, they can all be classified as remarkable, but how did they manage to build this great reputation?
This collection of tips and ideas is for anyone who runs their own website. While many of the examples given are from high-profile cases, the same techniques apply to any size website. Whether you’re running a small personal blog or a large corporate website, the core methods behind each tip will help push your website to the top, make it more recognizable, help you be seen as an authority in your industry or niche, help you develop a successful community, increase traffic and sales and, most importantly, become a remarkable brand. Don’t forget, implementing just one of these tips may give an extra boost to your website, but the combination of all of these techniques and a lot of time will give you the real results.
For example, a website that produces great content but has a mediocre design can certainly become a remarkable brand, and likewise a website that looks great but doesn’t produce top-notch content on a regular basis can still be successful to a certain extent. Highlighting areas of weakness in these examples and taking steps to improve them could really benefit the performance of these websites.
One of the first stages in developing any brand is creating a visual identity that represents the key values and ethics of the company, product or service.
This usually starts with the logo design, and continues on to promotional material and, of course, the website. In order to develop a remarkable brand, the design should be unique, stand out from the crowd and project a professional, trustworthy image worthy of a good reputation. A unique design allows a website to be recognized at a glance and not blend into the mass of mediocre designs out there. So, how do you go about designing a unique website?
Web Designer Wall earned a wealth of attention when it launched due to its attention- grabbing and inspiring website design, and it is still included in inspirational round-ups today.
The Web Designer Wall blog has an intricate illustration that takes up a large portion of the website’s background. The use of the large floral design, along with a range of well-designed elements and close attention to detail make the website unique and thus instantly recognizable and seen as a source of creativity.
The Black Estate Vineyard website has little color and no ornamental design elements, yet it is widely praised for its focus on a structured, grid-based design and excellent typography. The back-to-basics approach makes it stand out from the crowd of high-impact and over-the-top website designs, giving it a sophisticated and mature personality that fits perfectly with the topic of the website.
Black Estate Vineyard features an amazing design that follows key design principles, without unnecessary bells and whistles.
The Silverback website gained huge exposure even when it was little more than a holding page containing an email sign-up area. The reason is that the website featured an amazing parallax effect that no one had previously seen in Web design. This single feature went on to receive a mass of attention and helped develop a remarkable brand for the Silverback application before it was even launched.
The parallax background illusion on the Silverback website drew a lot of attention for being so unusual.
The design of a website provides users with an immediate impression of the brand, but the content is what develops that brand over the long term. Content refers to the resources that a company uses to promote its product or service at a website and can include information published on the website itself, as in the case of a blog. Having truly remarkable content will ultimately develop the respectability of the brand. What can you do to develop exceptional content?
ProBlogger constantly posts highly useful information on developing a successful blog, and readers learn and benefit from it. This content is then naturally passed around and recommended in social media. With consistently high-quality content, the website generates a remarkable brand as being a source of expertise.
37Signals is the developer of a range of indispensable small-business and collaboration software. The high quality of the products has helped it develop a high-profile brand. Whether your website is for a product, company or service, the content has to be of exceptional quality for you to be able to build a following of people who will talk about and respect your content.
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has developed a solid brand by consistently producing highly useful content.
By producing great online content with Wine Library, Gary Vaynerchuk has positioned himself as an expert in his field. This unique content has led to his being recognized as an authoritative figure, which has in turn developed the company and website into a remarkable brand.
37Signals offers a range of excellent software applications that have built a solid following of users.
Wine Library displays unique video content that conveys authority and expertise in the online wine industry.
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to do something completely different. Websites that use new media to explore unique ways of getting across their message can have a huge impact on their users. Video content is one tool that has recently allowed website owners to break free from traditional text-based interaction on the Web. Websites that use video for informational or comedic purposes are seeing excellent growth and development of their brand. Let’s take a look at some examples of how these new concepts can benefit a website.
My Damn Channel is an entertainment studio that empowers comedians, musicians and filmmakers to create video series. The comedy series “You Suck at Photoshop” took the common screencast tutorial-style video and used it to present a hilarious series that follows the life of author Donnie Hoyle. The unique nature of the videos and the useful tips and techniques featured in them made them a highly successful viral phenomenon that, along with its other video ventures, earned My Damn Channel 12 Webby awards1.
My Damn Channel released a 20-episode series covering various Photoshop tips and tricks, but with a very humorous twist.
The Onion Network is a fictional news channel that posts up-to-the-minute video content based on current affairs and popular topics. Despite the realistic and seemingly serious nature of the videos, the content itself is a spoof. This creative content set a unique trend that helped it gain much popularity as a source of entertainment.
Diggnation is hosted by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht and covers the week’s hottest tech and Web news through informal discussion. The relaxed setting of the show provides an interesting venue in which to deliver this information, and the informal chat and random conversation provides entertainment value. This personal twist sets the show apart from the surplus of other tech news websites, giving it a unique and remarkable brand that has gained huge exposure and a large fan base.
The Onion Network consistently creates realistic news-broadcaststyle videos that play off of popular culture and current affairs.
Around any brand is a collection of people who form a community. These could be fans of the company, product or service or simply customers and users. The community is the most powerful asset any brand can have; these are the people who share their opinion or praise and freely spread word of your brand. However, they can just as easily call out errors and highlight negative aspects of your company, product or service if their expectations aren’t met. In the modern world of communications, and with resources such as the Internet and social media, paying close attention to the community around your brand is a high priority. So, how are brands responding to their communities’ needs?
Diggnation discusses hot tech topics from the news website digg.com in an informal and relaxed setting.
Delicious uses Twitter to search for mentions of its service and strikes up conversations with individual users directly to help them with their problems and issues.
Social bookmarking website Delicious monitors the Twitter search stream for problems, issues and comments about its service and responds with messages of help and advice. This method of directly assisting users creates a one-on-one relationship between the company and each user, making the user feel as though they have been heard and turning the user’s experience into a positive view of the company.
Headscape is a progressive design firm based in London, UK. Along with its main stream of design projects, it has also developed a widely known web design podcast and a popular blog on which members of its staff (together with contributors across the globe) offer advice and tips from the industry. Showcasing the people behind the business gives insight into their personalities and provides a friendly connection. This positive feeling users get towards the people in the business is then naturally associated with the overall brand.
Ryan Carson, founder of Carsonified, has seen huge success with his collection of high-profile Web apps. In an interview2 he outlined some of his best tips for creating a successful Web app. One of these tips was to make it easy for staff to give credits of $5, $10 or $20 for the upcoming month, unasked. Likewise, if a customer experiences problems, an immediate refund of their last invoice instantly converts them into a happy customer. This idea of being seen as a giver, rather than simply taking a monthly charge, creates a sense of appreciation and positive attitude towards the brand. This generous approach creates a unique experience for the customer that binds them to the brand and encourages word-of-mouth advertising.
Headscape supports interaction with its staff member Paul Boag through a podcast show, blog and individual Twitter profiles. This creates in users a friendly and approachable impression of the company.
Carsonified believes that freely giving to its customers is one of the most important habits when building a successful Web app.
PSD2HTML displays its banner advertisements on many websites and blogs within its niche.
One of the age-old aims of branding is brand recognition, whereby a company, product or service becomes widely known in the marketplace. One benefit of this recognition is that you are instantly called to mind when people think of a certain topic. To become a remarkable brand, a website must get inside people’s heads and subconsciously influence people’s choices. It is also important to develop an initial strategy for how your brand is to be perceived. How do brands go about doing this?
XHTML/CSS conversion company PSD2HTML understands the benefit of developing brand recognition. Its banner advertisements appear on a huge number of popular and high-profile blogs in its target niche. This constant recurrence of its brand name and identity creates a big chance that it will be the first company that springs to mind when someone is looking for an XHTML/CSS conversion company.
Andy Budd, of user experience firm Clear Left, appears in various interviews and gives many conference speeches on the topic of user experience in Web design. He also initiates a range of discussions through print publications, conferences and blog posts and Twitter activity. This gives him constant exposure and associates him and his company with his target niche, the result being that he becomes widely seen as an expert in his field.
Doing something memorable that is not necessarily directly related to promoting your company has its advantages in contributing to a good overall brand. Helping talented people in your field, supporting educational projects and running conferences to exchange ideas are all great examples of how a brand can be made remarkable through selfless acts.
Common Craft received a mass of attention after publishing its first video, “RSS in Plain English3”. Within a day, the video hit the front page of Digg and had been watched over 15,000 times. This kind of viral or link-bait content can really help generate a wealth of exposure and introduce your work to a whole new group of users. Overall, the extra attention gave the Common Craft brand a huge boost in becoming recognizable for its particular style of work.
The RSS in Plain English video from Common Craft became semi-viral content that received a mass of attention and links from various sources.
Implementing these tips and techniques in the development of your own website will surely help build a respected brand. But don’t forget that changes don’t happen overnight. Building a remarkable brand takes constant and daily effort and attention. Be confident in your content, help others, spread the word and you’ll be on your way to a remarkable high-profile brand of your own.
The Smashing Editorial loves high-quality content and cares about little details. We also believe that content and design are crafts worth sharpening.
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