Connecting with Your Customers Through Design
September 11, 2008
Whenever you are designing a website, there are several key components that you need to examine and consider before you even begin. One of these key components is how you want to appear to your customers. One of the biggest parts of this is the voice you use to communicate with them. When I say voice, I do not mean simply the tone or style of the writing on the page. The biggest thing you need to consider is how your site is perceived, not how much you think it looks good. When you know your target audience, you can determine what the best voice is to use in communicating with them.
Your voice should identify who you are. Since your visitors are reading your material and not actually listening to your voice, you need to make sure that you keep things consistent on the page so that everything is understandable. Yes, this may seem like you are going back to school and going through your papers to make sure that everything flows, but there is a reason that we are taught those kind of things in school: they are an important part of communication.
How do you want your business to sound? Do you want to be more personable, less personable, more professional, or more laid back? All of these questions lead you in the direction of finding your site’s voice. Also, you need to determine what person you are going to use for you site. Are you going to use first person? Singular or Plural? Third person? Singular or Plural? While this may seem a little bit odd, make sure that your site’s person reflects you, the owner. Are their multiple people that own the business? In that case, try to make use of the plural throughout the site. If you want your customers to be more comfortable with you as a person, use the first person to give them a sense of familiarity. There is a place for the third person, but keep in mind that it is much less conversational and can detract from what you have to offer.
If you are operating a small business, something perennially associated with family, using a more personal tone can definitely attract people to your site. If, of course, you are looking to have a slightly more separated tone, perhaps something in the legal profession, using the third person is your better option.
There are a number of other things that you need to consider when determining your site’s voice, but these questions and suggestions should put you on the right track to finding what works best for you. Above all, make sure to be consistent throughout your site to ensure coherency.
Written By: James Blackburn, Website Office Staff Writer