One of the biggest challenges that we face as developers of B2B websites is effectively reinforcing / establishing a brand without compromising usability for visitors. Why is this such a challenge?
- Click-paths are becoming less and less linear as search engines have taken on the dominant role as primary gateway to your website
- Improvements in search engines have lowered visitors’ patience: They want the information they’re looking for right away
- Visitors have been self-trained to ignore branding areas of pages because they typically lack usable information and interactivity
Eye-tracking studies on B2B homepages, like the one conducted by Marketing Sherpa in 2007, confirm that purely brand-focused areas are rarely looked at regardless of where they are placed on a page. Invariably, the highest-rated designs in the study were those where the subject could find the information they were looking for most quickly.
Where “stickyness” in terms of time spent on each page has been considered a positive statistic for branding in the past, the results of this study seem to indicate the opposite. A better measure is perhaps, “how quickly was a visitor able to get where I wanted them to go,” or, “did their click-path result in a telling action, like a form submission?”.
Traditional, linear methods of establishing brand identity are becoming less and less applicable on the internet as it becomes more and more user-centric. As a web designer, the best way to build your client’s brand is through exceptional usability. By understanding visitors better, you can present them with more relevant, and more compelling content. This is your single best opportunity to establish brand identity: Not in a complex flash animation header, but at each point where you’re presenting valuable information and interactivity to your visitor.