How Blender Helped B2Gold Tell Their CSR Story Online

So, you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online is a must for your business. You’ve started to discuss next steps in recent leadership meetings, and you’re responding rapidly to questions posed from your Executive Team. Your budget is starting to come together to bring your story to your website, but you’re just not sure what the end result will look like.

It’s a question (and sometimes, a concern) that we hear often, so rest assured – you’re in good company. While you might have a great idea and vision of how you want to tell your story, what it will look and feel like is often a mystery.

That’s why we’re here. And that’s also why we’re sharing one of our favorite examples of a company that’s doing great things in telling their CSR story online: B2Gold.

About B2Gold

B2Gold is a Vancouver based gold producer with a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets. They are one of the fastest-growing intermediate gold producers in the world and, since its inception in 2007, have evolved into an international gold mining company.

The Challenge

When B2Gold came to Blender, their website wasn’t mobile or tablet friendly – and quite frankly, it was difficult to navigate. The breadth of information, including their CSR story, was deep within their website, and sometimes non-existent.

That’s why we’re here…

csr story online homepage

Knowing that B2Gold wanted to tell their story in such a way that displayed their global presence of their products in a highly visual, easy-to-consume way, we were ready to take on the challenge.

Working closely with the client, we collaborated to revise the sitemap and information architecture so we could, first and foremost, develop the framework. It was important to demonstrate B2Gold’s strengths of their assets, including their CSR work, and it was even more important to outline how the site would perform before determining what it would look like.

The Result – Their CSR Story Online

The result of this work was a truly interactive and detailed project map that rivaled the very best in the industry (spoiler bias: we think the map we created for B2Gold is the very best). This map accomplished their overall goal, which was to accurately display the global presence of their business and projects from Asia-Pacific to South America.

csr story online map

To experience the interactive map for yourself, click here.

The CSR portion of B2Gold’s website was also a priority; with active work in responsible mining, social responsibility, occupational health and safety, environment and biodiversity, it was important to tell the entire story in an easy-to-consume, responsive way.

B2Gold’s CSR site focused around image-based storytelling on mobile, desktop and tablet-responsive pages, making it easy for prospective investors to view and digest.

So, what should you look for when selecting your agency?

When you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online effectively is a must for your business, there are three things you need to look for when selecting your partner agency.

  1. Find an agency that works within Investor Relations

If you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that any agency will work, we hate to break the bad news to you – but they probably won’t. Working in IR is a whole new ball game, so you need to find an agency that has a positive track record within investor relations. Be sure to request case studies from clients who are in your industry.

  1. Ask the question: what happens when you’re finished my project?

One red flag of a potential agency partner is one that leaves when the project is complete.

What happens if you find bugs a few months later? What happens if a broken link is found just a few days after the contract is complete?

Look for an agency who will be with you every step of the way – not one that leaves you when your website has launched.

  1. Request to see examples of CSR sections they’ve developed and launched.

We’ve talked about the importance of CSR for your business, and while you might have a storytelling concept that you love, it’s important to receive feedback from the agency who will build your CSR online presence.

What works? What doesn’t? What will differentiate you from competition? What’s your favourite CSR section that your team has built?

Ask these questions from a potential agency so you can truly understand their grasp of the industry and the importance of telling your CSR story online.

Conclusion

We loved working with B2Gold here at Blender, and we couldn’t have been more proud of the final result. As you’re starting your CSR storytelling journey, and while you’re identifying potential agency partners, keep this blog bookmarked – we’re sure it will provide inspiration as you move forward.

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5 Best Practices for CSR On Your Website

We’ve talked about how important corporate social responsibility (CSR) is for your company, and even various elements that should be included when you’re telling your story online, but, when you’ve made the decision to move forward with CSR storytelling (high five, by the way), what are the best practices for CSR pages on your website?

Thankfully, we’ve done the work for you.

Most companies are practicing a form of corporate social responsibility with the overall goal of contributing to their community. The storytelling aspect, however, has changed over the last decade; companies have felt increased pressure to “dress up” CSR and that they need to be delivering every single aspect of every single initiative on their website.

We’re here to tell you that you don’t. We believe that CSR activities should be expressed online in a way that focuses on the fundamental goal of aligning your company’s community projects and initiatives with its business purpose and values, making your CSR endeavours easy to consume online – not difficult to understand.

So, how can your company do it?

We’ve pulled together five of the best CSR websites online now, while providing best practices that will help you stand apart from your competition.

5 Best Practices for CSR On Your Website

1. Ensure that it’s mobile-friendly. Example: Cisco

We love Cisco’s mobile, tablet and desktop-friendly CSR website. It’s easy to navigate, it’s responsive, and it’s worked well on every device we’ve tested.

It’s important to have a mobile-friendly website for investors. 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important to their browsing habits, and it’s even more important when a potential investor is arriving to your website.

teck best practices for csr

2. Include a dedicated blog. Example: Microsoft Green Blog

When you’re putting together your CSR section or dedicated website, consider the power of a blog.

Microsoft Green is committed minimizing their environmental impact, so they’re working with partners around the world to focus on a sustainable, low-carbon future for our planet. On their website, Microsoft writes frequently about related topics such as Earth Day, press releases, and company events.

A dedicated CSR blog allows you to focus on internal and external activities as a business, giving you the ability to showcase authenticity and differentiate yourselves from competitors.

best practice csr - microsoft

3. Keep your CSR reports visible. Example: IBM

It’s important to have CSR report downloads from both current and past years in a visible, easy-to-navigate place on your website. This makes the research experience simple for visitors, including investors, and decreases the possibility of high bounce rates.

IBM does it right. The company has two clear navigational drop-downs on their homepage, with one being “Our Reports”. It’s easily found, providing a strong browsing experience.

IBM

4. Pull out the “big wins”. Example: Disney

We love how Disney pulls the “big wins” and displays it on the Philanthropy section of their website.

Disney isn’t afraid to display the massive 23.1 million books donated figure on their homepage, or 333.3 million in giving throughout 2015. Instead of including every single aspect on their site, Disney pulls only the statistics that matter most and have the most impact.

For your business, highlight the big wins; pull 2-3 key statistics that you’re proud of, instead of paragraph upon paragraph from your latest community event. With read rates and time on site lower than ever, you must attract visitors quickly.

disney

5. Make your purpose clear. Example: Google Green

When a visitor lands on your CSR site, there should be no question what the focus and goals of your programs are. Included in this should be your history, business, and overall economic impact of your CSR endeavours.

Google Green knocks this out of the park with their website. When landing on Google.ca/Green, a visitor knows that Google is committed to supporting resource efficiency and renewable power.

Google Best Practices for CSR

Conclusion

From building mobile-friendly sites to celebrating big wins, it’s important to have a CSR section or website that is focused on delivering the key information to the end user – whether it’s the investor or the customer. Too often, we see companies make the mistake of having the CSR site serve the purpose of Executive or Leadership groups, without taking user experience into consideration. With these 5 best practices for CSR on your website, your business will be equipped with the tools you need to break apart from the competition in Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

Why It’s Important to Highlight CSR On Your Website

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It’s an age-old question, with an answer that has long been unknown (kind of like the chicken and the egg – and really, what did come first?), but one thing we know for certain – differing opinions make for great conversation, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to CSR.

At Blender, we’re believers that your website should act as your best employee; your spokesperson, your sales person, and above all, a reflection of who you are as a business. For businesses actively engaged in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) your website is the single best channel to extend the communication of your efforts.

So, if you’re actively engaged in CSR, but you’re not communicating your involvement, is it really happening?

It’s important to highlight CSR on your website. Here’s why.

It breaks you apart from your competition.

Every business should be performing some sort of regular competitor analysis, especially companies working in Investor Relations, and CSR is a great way to break apart from your competition.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are great examples of using CSR to differentiate themselves from competition. While both perform CSR in a similar way (these companies aim for sustainability in water usage), they’re taking hold of CSR communication on investor websites, knowing the impact it has on not only consumers, but investors alike.

CSR on your website 1

It increases sentiment of your business online.

Much like competitor reporting, most companies are also focused on sentiment about their business online. Positive sentiment can lead to an upward trend in revenue, while negative sentiment can lead to a downward trend in revenue (as these Korean tech firms experienced, for example).

Ask any Communications Manager and they’ll agree that positive brand stories should be in their arsenal to mitigate potential neutral or negative quarters. These positive stories are also excellent to release throughout the calendar year as your business goes through natural ebbs and flows.

Using CSR to increase the sentiment of your business online can not only impact the success of your business offline, but it can also impact the online sentiment of your brand with investors and consumers.

CSR On your website 2

It attracts talent (making your HR Department your BFF).

Picture this. You and your competitor have a job opening for the exact same position. You’ve posted within the same week, and you’re going after the same group of candidates. It’s down to a few potential candidates, and you have your eye on one target that you feel would fit so well within your company culture.

Now, picture yourself on the other end of the table. This candidate is deciding between yourself and your competitor, and they’re ranking the pros and cons of both companies – until they realize that you have a strong CSR program, and actively give back within the community. Your company encourages employees to volunteer, and has a number of partner non-profit organizations that you donate to each and every year.

Which company do you think this candidate would choose? The company that understands the importance of contributing to the community, or the company that doesn’t?

It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of story, with your business coming out on top.

CSR On your website 3

It contributes to cost-savings (encouraging consumers to think the same) and acts as a natural PR story

One of the easiest places for a company to start engaging in CSR is to use it as a way to save on costs and overall expenditures. Whether it’s using less energy or using less packaging, these savings add up quickly.

A great example is General Mills. They’re on a path to reduce cost and energy savings, as they’ve installed energy monitoring meters on several pieces of equipment at its HQ. In doing so, the company saved $600,000.

General Mills went far and wide with PR for this strategy, focusing first on their website. It was included in all CSR material, and was quickly picked-up by publications around North America.

So, not only did this move increase sentiment of their business, it also contributed to cost-savings. It was a natural story for their PR team as well, circling back to an arsenal of content, if and when you need to mitigate neutral or negative sentiment online.

Conclusion

If you’re actively engaging in CSR and not highlighting your endeavours on your website, take note – the pros far outweigh the cons (really, are there cons?)

From differentiating your business from competition to engaging potential talent, the importance of highlighting CSR on your website is real. And, truly, it’s so easy.

To get started, just click here. We’d love to show you how we’ve helped businesses in your industry.

 

 

5 Common CSR Questions Answered

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has quickly become the buzz term that everyone in investor relations is talking about. Loosely speaking, CSR is the idea that a company of any size should contribute to a better society and cleaner environment, with the understanding that doing so will enhance business operations and competitiveness. With this often comes common CSR questions, so take – for example – Google Green. Google Green is a corporate effort to use resources efficiently while supporting renewable power. Not only does this program lower costs for Google as a business, it drastically impacts the bottom line; Google has seen an overall drop in power requirements for their data centers by an average of 50 percent.

Knowing that we’re not all powerhouses like Google (though the sky’s the limit!), any IR business can benefit from CSR.

That’s why we’ve put together common CSR questions we’re asked all the time. We love CSR so much, we’re here to help answer your burning questions about this area of opportunity for your business.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered

1. Why should I have a CSR section on my website?

This is a question that we hear often, and one that we always love answering.

Implementing CSR on your site will directly and indirectly improve your overall competitiveness in the market. Common advantages of a company that has CSR presence on their site, versus a company who does not, include:

  • Creating shareholder value, which strengthens stakeholder relationships
  • Enhancing brand reputation, both in the community and within the business
  • Improving employee recruitment and retention
  • Highlighting and showcasing responsible leadership

And so much more.

While your business might already be active within your community, it might not translate online. Showcasing a strong CSR section on your website has a plethora of benefits.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered 1

2. Where should I place my CSR section on my website?

When consumers seek out information about your CSR involvement and can’t find it, they assume it doesn’t exist. Make your CSR section on your website clear and easily available. If you’re not communicating responsibility practices, you run the risk of having consumers think you’re not participating at all.

We recommend giving your CSR practices a dedicated section on your IR website. Rogers is a great example; on their consumer-facing site, CSR is easily located as a drop-down beside “Contact Us”. It’s easy to find and even easier to navigate.

3. What should be included in my CSR section?

What is included on your CSR microsite or CSR section of your website is often dependent on your company or industry, but generally we recommend the following to be included:

  • Your history, business and overall economic impact of your CSR endeavours
  • Community Investment section, including a list of highlights from the past year (this could be overall funds donated, employee time spent volunteering in the community and more)
  • News and Media Relations section. This allows you to share dedicated press releases for your CSR activity, including contact information to get in touch with your Communications team
  • CSR report downloads from both current and past years
  • In addition to your News and Media Relations section, an active CSR blog will showcase authenticity from your business and differentiate yourselves from competitors.

What is included in your CSR site is dependent on your overall strategy and goals, though we suggest that you include these four points at minimum.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered 2

4. Who should be involved in creating your CSR strategy?

CSR strategy and implementation comes from your Leadership and Executive team, with involvement from Human Relations and Communications. For a CSR program to truly work, Leadership must pave the way and lead by example.

Human Relations is an important stakeholder in this process because they are often one of the key benefactors of a successful CSR program. A CSR program can be an aid to recruitment and retention, especially when you’re hiring in a competitive graduate market.

5. How can I stand out from my competitors with CSR?

The answer here is authenticity. Your investors and customers have excellent BS meters, so make sure that your CSR communication is authentic in nature.

Be honest about your efforts and activity, but also be honest in areas that need improvement. If you have areas of your CSR strategy that needs improvement, acknowledge this and provide updates along the way.

As you develop your CSR website (or perhaps take inventory of your current site), ensure you are telling your story effectively and honestly. Make customers want to share your content, and tell your own story. If you do not have CSR presence or if you’re not telling your story effectively, your customers might think you’re avoiding or hiding something entirely.

 

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5 analytics to know when measuring web traffic

How well do you know the people who visit your website? Do you know how they find you and what they do when they get there? You might already be measuring web traffic by keeping tabs on how many views you get each day but you could be tracking your user behaviour in far more detail. Website analytics—the measurement and analysis of all your website data—let you do exactly that. However, all factors are not created equal. Below we take you through the important factors to look at, why they matter, and what affects them.

measuring web traffic - engagement

FACTOR: Engagement

WHAT IT IS: The length of time that a person spends actively interacting with your website on their browser.

WHY IT MATTERS: While having a high number of page views can send your dopamine soaring (seriously, it trips the same pleasure centres as a workout, or a really delicious meal), that’s not really what matters. Ten thousand hits doesn’t mean much if each user only stays for the average 15 seconds. Yes, 15 seconds. That’s how long you have (according to this Time article) to get an investor’s attention before they move on to the next company.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Engagement hinges greatly on content. Mainly, what type and what subject. People will more likely watch a video than read an article. Newsworthy subjects invite longer engagement than time-honoured topics. Design plays into it too, as user-friendliness will keep a person interested longer. For ideas to increase investor engagement on your site, take a look at our post on the subject.

measuring web traffic - bounce_rate

FACTOR: Bounce rate

WHAT IT IS: The percentage of viewers that only visit one page before leaving a website. So, for this factor, a low rate is a good rate.

WHY IT MATTERS: A high bounce rate translates to a lack of engagement. If a user is engaged enough by the first page they visit, they are more likely to click through to another, and another, and to return in the future. Bouncers drive up your page views but if they aren’t engaging, they aren’t investing.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Again, we come back to content and design. User experience is always at the top of our list of priorities, as it is important for the majority of viewers. This study asked participants what causes them to leave a website, and why, and found that the majority of reasons fall under two categories: issues that reduce a company’s credibility (like not having contact info), and those that waste a user’s time (such as annoying ads). A website with a low bounce rate will have an intuitive design that guides users naturally to additional pages.

measuring web traffic - sourceoftraffic

FACTOR: Source of traffic

WHAT IT IS: The channel through which investors land on your website. Direct sources come to your site, well, directly. They do not pass go, they do not collect $200. They type your URL into their browsers and voila. Referred sources come through any external link that the user has clicked on.

WHY IT MATTERS: Different sources have a different level of investment in what you’re offering. A person who finds you through a search on Google is not the same as someone who clicks a link off a Facebook post. The difference here is active vs. passive sources: the Google-searcher has actively sought out information on a specific topic using keywords tailored to what they’re looking for; the Facebook-user, on the other hand, has stumbled across something they found vaguely interesting enough to click on, but wasn’t necessarily looking for. Active sources means engaged users. Passive sources means more bouncers.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Where viewers are coming from influences how they will interact with your website. In the example above, you can see that organic, search-engine generated referrals yield more engaged viewers than social media sources. Therefore, knowing your sources can help you determine how best to market your website. SEO will be the best way to target search engine sources and the keyword here is (you guessed it), keywords. Adding relevant terms anywhere they fit naturally makes you easier to find by your target audience. Be careful not to overstuff your content with repetitive words, though. Keywords should appear to be hardly working when, in reality, they’re working overtime. We have some SEO basics for you on our blog.

measuring web traffic - uniquevisitors

FACTOR: Unique visitors

WHAT IT IS: The percentage of views that are from new visitors.

WHY IT MATTERS: Unique visitors mean new eyes—eyes that belong to new potential investors. Like we said earlier, you need to consider more than just your total number of views when analyzing your website traffic. No matter how many times someone accesses your site, if it’s from the same device, they will only be counted as one visitor. So this metric gives you a sense of the size of your audience. If you’ve only been measuring how many visitors you have, as opposed to the percentage of them that are unique, you likely have an inaccurate idea of how many people you’re reaching.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: The issue of unique visitors is a tricky one—return users means you have reliable, engaged followers, but bringing in new traffic increases your viewership to a larger scope of people. Ask yourself what’s more important: the loyalty of a smaller number of followers, or the mass reach of as many users as possible? There’s no wrong answer, it’s all about what’s best for you and your website.

measuring web traffic - mobile_desktop

FACTOR: Mobile vs. desktop

WHAT IT IS: The functionality of a website on mobile devices vs. desktop computers.

WHY IT MATTERS: Everyone is mobile. This study shows that the average person accesses the web through 6 different devices and 12 different sources. These numbers are even higher with millennials. On top of that, users are often plugged in to multiple devices at the same time, making cross-platform usability increasingly important. Mobile optimization is crucial to every aspect of website analytics: the ability to attract a high volume of users, the ability to engage them with your content, the ability to drive them to visit multiple pages, and ultimately, attract them to invest in your company.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Being mobile friendly affects website traffic in a major way, as 83% of people will leave your site, or switch devices, if it doesn’t function well on mobile. While the above study proves that people (as a whole) use their desktops more than any other device, smartphones are the most-used device among millennials. In order to keep up with the influx of mobile users, your site needs to work across all devices. Users are looking for a seamless, simplified experience. Even a small thing like a phone number that dials automatically when clicked can determine whether an investor will make the call to your company. Take a look at our infographic for a breakdown of the impact of mobile optimization on investor relations.

 

Conclusion

Web analytics is a cross-modal practice where each factor influences and interacts with the other. Knowing the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of user behaviour gives you insider knowledge that you can use to tweak and refine your marketing strategies. Check out our suggestions for the best resources out there to take your website to the peak of your industry and keep it there.

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4 common website design myths

Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. Mac computers are immune to viruses. All of these statements have one thing in common: most people believe them, but they’re simply not true. When it comes to creating a website, it can be just as easy to succumb to common website design myths. With this week’s post, we aim to reroute you back on the path to stellar investor website design and point out common mistakes along the way.

 

website design myths 1

MYTH NO. 1: All of your website’s important information should appear ‘above the fold.’ That is, you should be able to see it all without having to scroll.

FACT: The fold does not exist.

‘Above the fold’ used to refer to the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. Literally the part that appeared above the fold. Apply this to the internet and we’re talking about anything on a webpage that is visible without having to scroll. In the early days of the internet, users weren’t used to scrolling, so website designers adhered to the trends to make sure viewers didn’t miss important info. It’s intuitive: what’s at the top of the page is what gets the most focus. People won’t think there’s anything below the fold, so they won’t know to scroll. Right?

Not so much. The fold died long ago, particularly when mobile was born. Websites crossed over to mobile, and smartphone apps were introduced, so we came to rely on the constant swipe of the index to bring a constant stream of new information to our fingertips. We became conditioned to scroll, so now we’re used to it. This has translated back to desktop—Apple even dropped the scroll bar from the side of your browser. Why? Because the fold does not exist.

In reality, we spend most of our attention below the fictitious fold (a whopping two-thirds), because we now intuitively scroll on websites, regardless of the device we are using. As long as your investor website design invites your viewer down-screen, you can trust that’s exactly where they’ll go.

 

website design myths 2

MYTH NO. 2: All content should be on my homepage.

FACT: Packing your homepage with a barrage of information will make most users bolt. With a homepage, think welcome mat as opposed to full-blown surprise party. This is your first impression. Your storefront window. Your launch pad into another dimension. Your gateway to the next frontier…

Okay, you get it. Don’t load your homepage with text-heavy paragraphs and long-winded explanations of what you’re all about. Do show this through eye-catching images and punchy headlines. Straightforward statements that sum up your vision and your industry chops are more likely to entice viewers to scroll and click their way through your site.

A homepage is like the cover page of a third-grade poetry booklet: a collage of snapshots of the stunning work held within its pages, not a down-to-the-syllable summary of each poem. Investors will seek out the information they need; all you have to do is guide them there. These are the companies we think do this best.

 

 

website design myths 3

MYTH NO. 3: As long as it works on desktop, the website is good to go.

FACT: The majority of investor website traffic comes from mobile sources, making this one of the most damaging website design myths of all. Whether on a tablet or a smartphone, more and more people are using their mobile devices as their primary access point to the internet. With the ever-changing release of new screen sizes, transferability and adaptability are the keys to accessibility when thinking about investor website design.

Being optimized for mobile covers more than just being easy to read. The layout needs to function, downloadable content should be easy to access, features have to load quickly, and e-newsletters need to adapt. The majority of consumers will move on from your website if it doesn’t operate well on mobile. Let’s make this a priority.

For more hard stats on the importance of mobile optimization, see this post on our blog. For tips on creating the best investor mobile experience, click here.

 

website design myths 4

MYTH NO. 4: A great design is all people want.

FACT: Bells and whistles do more to distract than attract. In other words, less is more. Highlighting your company’s strengths through simple, compelling images will get your story across more effectively than a visual overload of design elements.

Content is actually more important than design elements. Think of it this way: at a restaurant, outstanding service goes a long way to make up for bad food, but bad service can almost always kill a good meal. Same goes for your website: killer content will hold up a not-so-solid design, but an overactive design won’t make up for poor content. When content comes first, you will attract investors to the points you want to emphasize without over-doing it with design.

Want to know more about how to channel your content on your website to make yourself a major player in your industry? Download How to establish yourself as an industry thought leader though your website. 

 

Conclusion: Be simple, be accessible, be successful.

It doesn’t take much to create a website that will draw investors in and keep them there, as long as you do it right. Here are the key takeaways from what we’ve discussed to avoid succumbing to website design myths.

  • Stay up to date with user trends and how they interact with websites and access content
  • Increase the reach of your site through mobile optimization
  • Resist the urge to plaster your site with over-the-top visuals and bright fonts

How your information is delivered is just as important as what you’re delivering and falling victim to website design myths can derail you from reaching your final vision for your site. By following these points, you can bring what counts to the forefront: what you stand for, what you can accomplish, and why you’re worth the investment.

 

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Questions to ask yourself when developing a brand story

Introduction: developing a brand story is crucial for website design

Where did you come from, what are you doing now, and where are you going? Developing a brand story that speaks to your vision and what sets you apart from your competition is an important factor of good website structure. You need to figure out how to best relay all the important information for an online audience that typically has a 15 second attention span per webpage. Yeah, tricky. The best way to ensure you have a solid brand identity is by narrowing your field and asking yourself the pointed questions below.

How does a great company story online help you become a major player in your industry? Here is How to establish yourself as an industry leader through your website. 

Question 1: What distinguishes my goals from my vision?

First, let’s understand the difference between a company ‘goal’ and company ‘vision’. Goals are most often concrete steps your company will take in the next few years to achieve attainable milestones. These goals should be aligned with the interests of your company, your investors, and all others involved. A vision, however, is usually more abstract. Visions are something you hope to achieve in the future, and can be a bit more far-reaching. A vision often includes the way you see your company impacting the future and what it’s place in the world will be. When developing a brand story, make sure to separate your concrete five year goals from your aspirations for the distant future.

Question 2: How would I explain my product/service in one sentence?

Every company needs to be able to explain their main service in an ‘elevator pitch’. If it takes more than a few sentences to explain your ‘About Us’, it’s going to be very difficult to have a clear and straightforward content strategy on your website. It can be difficult to be concise, so start by writing everything that’s important and then drastically cut back until you have two clear sentences.

Question 3: What is one thing I offer that none of my competitors do?

Nothing kills a company’s website more than getting lost in the crowd. When developing a brand story, you should first do research on all your competitors. What elements are they pitching heavily on their websites? How do they structure their most important information? Did you develop your company because you saw something was lacking in your industry? What was that one thing? Find what you do that’s unique, even if it’s something small like extending your hours of operation to accommodate both east and west coast markets. Highlight those unique aspects on your website. You can also learn from the masters and read 6 lessons from famous companies on creating a killer brand. 

Question 4: What are three highlights about my company that investors would be interested in?

If question 3 was about researching your competitors, this question is about getting into the mind of your potential investors. What elements are important to investors of your industry, and how many of those boxes do you tick? If you’re a mining company, how many in-production projects do you have vs. exploration? Are any of your sites 100% owned? No one understands the assets of your industry like you. If you are newer and have yet to make any major strides, what are some concrete ways you’ve been moving towards your goals? Sometimes even showing determination and highlighting a strong plan for the future is enough to hook an investor.

Question 5: How have I failed?

This is a big one in developing your brand story, even if it’s kept as an internal question (we don’t mean you should be plastering your failures all over your website). What were some of the major setbacks in developing your company? Are they issues that could arise again? And most importantly, if a bit cheesy, what have you learned from your failures and how will you grow? Often analyzing your past failures will help you build more targeted goals.

Question 6: Why am I here?

The last question is the one abstract one of the bunch and might even include a bit of soul searching. But really, ask yourself: why are you here? What makes you work towards your company goals and vision every day? What is it about your company that you believe in? Get personal in thinking, because it’s most likely the reasons you love your company that will resonate the most with your audience. Web audiences are smart, and can tell when a company’s vision is ghostwritten or crafted from a template. Allow your audience to see the human side of your company and why you’re more than just a bunch of people in a building.

 

Conclusion: now get everyone on board

Developing a brand story means nothing if only a few people in your company understand what you’re all doing there. Every single person who works for you should understand as well. If you’re developing a brand story, make sure everyone else also knows the company’s goals and why they give up their time each day to be working with you. A common goal makes for a hard working and well-oiled machine. Happy researching and happy brand developing!

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7 pain points that mean you need a new website

Introduction: how to know if you need a new website

Since the website redesign spectrum is all over the place, it can be hard to know if you need a new website. There are large public companies who haven’t changed the look of their website in decades, while other companies of the same size (like General Electric) are constantly challenging themselves digitally by adding new website trends, social media platforms, videos, and presentations. So how do you know where your company fits in all of this? We don’t mean you need to be keeping up with every single digital trend-that would just get tiring. We’ve compiled a few ‘pain points’ that website viewers commonly feel when viewing a website. If your website suffers from any of these frustrations, you probably need a new website. A whole new site can sound like a big undertaking, especially if you’re looking for outside help. Here’s a quick eBook on how to pick the right website agency.

Pain point #1: Not compatible with modern browsers

Ever heard of BrowserStack? This online tool allows you to type in your website’s URL and run it through every new and older version of of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and more. If your current website isn’t looking so pretty on the newer versions of these browsers (or newer versions of Android and iOS devices) it’s time to start thinking of an upgrade. It should be compatible with most older versions too, but dinosaur websites can’t hang. We recommend that before IE 9 just needs to upgrade.

Pain point #2: You’re not mobile-friendly

This one’s a biggie. Check to see how your website looks on a smartphone and tablet. Do you have to zoom in on the screen to click buttons on the page? Is it really hard to type in your information on contact forms? Is it impossible for you to navigate to another page without clicking two things you didn’t mean to? A non mobile optimized website is very frustrating for your website viewers. Make sure one size fits all.

Pain point #3: Outdated design

Again, we’re not saying your website always has to be the latest and greatest in website design trends. But if it’s been over three years since you last upgraded your website’s design, you’ll probably need a new website. Remember the internet design trends of five or ten years ago, with neon flashing glitter letters and scrolling text on banners? It’s not just about looking good; a quality website design looks good on your company as well. It shows that you’re keeping up with the times and kept informed.

Pain point #4: No on-page content strategy

Remember that a website’s main purpose (especially the homepage) is to give users and potential investors the necessary information to make an educated decision and hopefully decide to contact you to find out more. Our digital attention span is getting shorter and shorter nowadays, especially with so many companies converting their messages to short, bitesized videos. No one wants to navigate to a website with lots of useless content and confusing pathways through the site so they are unable to find the information they  need.

Pain point #5: Content isn’t optimized for searches

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is a term that’s not going away anytime soon. When someone has an issue that your company  solves, they’ll most likely search for the answer on the internet. Make sure your content is optimized for search engines so that when someone Googles their question, your website pops up! SEO is a bit tricky to implement, but here are some SEO basics to know before a website redesign.

Pain point #6: You can’t update your own content

This is a huge pain point if you’re a public company and constantly need to update your investor section with the latest news release, or publish your quarterly numbers or an annual report. You need the help of a good content management system (or CMS) to be able to access the backend of your site and make the necessary updates.

Pain point #7: You like you competitor’s website better

Time for some honesty here. If even you love a competitor’s website more than your own, then all your customers or potential investors are bound to as well. A great website establishes you as an industry leader and makes you seem much more on top of your game than competitors websites who just can’t get it together.

Conclusion: okay, so what’s the next step?

If you’ve concluded from the above pain points that you need a new website, what are the next steps you should take? You want to decide if it makes more sense for your company to hire a website agency to take over, or possibly multiple specialized agencies to refine your full digital presence? Here’s the difference between full service agencies vs. niche agencies. If you want a more specific look about what to do when looking for an agency, download The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency below!


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Great website design examples to inspire your own

Introduction: design trends aren’t only for the ‘flashy’ companies

While we’ve written many blog posts about making sure your homepage is more than pretty, today we’re focusing on the design itself (so you have our full permission to ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhhhh’). We pulled some great website design examples below, so you can see how both our clients and companies from all industries have managed to incorporate new website design elements. The below websites show that you don’t have to be Apple or Tesla to have great web design. Every company of every industry can benefit from these trends. How can you utilize some of these elements in your company’s website?

Inspired to start your own website design project? What are you supposed to talk about when you call an agency? Before you get overwhelmed, download our Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency!

 

Great website design examples that follow current trends

Trend: large background images

1. Warby Parker

The white space of Warby Parker’s main website ensures that the big background images pop. The overall stripped back and clean design also mimics Warby Parker’s fresh young vibe as a brand.

 

great website design examples

 

2. B2Gold Corporation

Large background images are great for CSR sections of any public company website. Here’s an example the Social Responsibility section of a website we did for our friends at B2Gold. The images describe their social impact better than any paragraph on the page.

 

great website design examples

Trend: background video

3. Paperless Post

This is one of our favorite websites lately. Paperless Post does almost all their work from their website, so it had to be both beautiful and simple to use. The background video on the homepage shows examples of different scenarios in which their cards are used.

 

great website design examples

 

4. Uranium Energy Corporation

We helped UEC include background video to their website redesign to showcase their projects (as well as make their homepage really pop). Similarly to Paperless Post, this video also showcases their product to their audience.

 

great website design examples

Trend: mobile first design

5. Elespacio

Elespacio is a Spanish digital agency who recently won an award for their mobile first website design. Their scrolling homepage banners look just as beautiful and are just as easy to scroll through on mobile as they are on a desktop computer.

 

great website design examples

 

6. EXL Service

We’ve written about the mobile-first design of EXL, a decision-analytics and operation management provider company, before because it’s one of the best examples of mobile first websites we’ve seen. The best mobile websites make the user forget they’re even viewing from a smartphone or tablet because they don’t feel constricted by the device in any way.

 

great website design examples

Trend: long scroll

7. Apple

There are many companies that artfully include a long scrolling page to highlight products or elements of their website, but Apple does it the best. Complete with subtle animation as a user scrolls, the long scroll really captures the company’s story.

great website design examples

8. Rise 

Shoutout to a local company! Rise is the ‘future of HR’, or a people and culture platform. They recently rebranded and redesigned their website, and we love the long scroll they’ve incorporated to better tell their story.

great website design examples

Conclusion: know the trends, no matter who you are

In paring great website design examples from one ‘cool industry’ company with an example of how a lesser known company can also use these trends, we hope to inspire you to get thinking about how anyone can really implement great web design. Not sure where to start your redesign project, or if you’ll need the help of an agency? Download the checklist below to see if you need the help of professionals!




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7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

Introduction: Do I need to hire a website agency?

There are different routes you can take once you’ve decided that you want a new website or want to revitalize your old one. With companies like Wixx, Weebly, and WordPress (why all the ‘w’s? we wonder) offering you the build-it-yourself platform, it’s a valid point to wonder why companies hire website agencies. This week’s blog breaks down common reasons companies seek out an agency to help with their digital marketing needs. If you want more specific advice on what you need to be asking an agency once you talk to them, download The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency. 

 

7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

1. Agencies are often one-stop shops

Many companies, especially publicly traded ones, go into a website redesign project imagining that new colours and crisper images are the only thing holding them back from better website traffic and more email signups. What usually ends up being the case, however, is that upon researching further the company realizes that what they’re really looking for is help with their entire digital marketing strategy. Beyond just a website redesign, this can include content strategy, social media support, opportunities for mobile optimization, as well as looking at the latest digital trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they feel comfortable knowing one group can take care of their digital presence.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

2. Personalized support

While the DIY website builders have help lines and support pages, there’s thousands of people at once, from individuals to larger companies, who are learning how to use their service. Many companies choose to hire agencies for the personal touch of a client/vendor relationship. If we’re talking public companies, the space of website compliance and mandatory releases and filings can be tricky for anyone to understand. It’s helpful to know there are people standing by who do this for a living and are able to give personalized suggestions and assistance.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

3. Continued website maintenance

This is especially true for publicly traded companies, who are mandated to keep the public updated on their activities, and who publish news releases and company information frequently. Purchasing a monthly support package from an agency ensures that your website stays updated with all the information you need. Also, with the digital world evolving at the speed of light, your website may not be up to standards in a year from now, or might not render well on a new device that comes on the market. Website agencies are on top of the latest updates and trends, so will make sure your website is at the highest possible standard.

 

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

4. Safety and security

DIY website builders like WordPress are open source, meaning that the code of their website is accessible to anyone who wants to look through it. The sheer multitude of people with open access to the WordPress process inevitably also makes it an easier platform to hack into. Companies with sensitive information who want to make security of files a top priority often look to website agencies for their website project. Website agency servers are more secure, especially if they have build their own content management system (CMS) to create and update content.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies5. Design originality

Another reason why companies hire website agencies is for the in-depth approach many agencies take to learn about their client and their goals with a new website project. The DIY website builders implement click and drag systems, and anyone can buy a design they like the best. Companies seek out website agencies when they have specific targets in mind, or want their website design to be 100% original to their story. Most agencies have some sort of ‘discovery meeting’ or learning session before they begin design to get to know their client’s style.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

6. Expertise in the industry

We recommend that companies looking to hire a website agency should look for agencies with expertise within their sector. A company in the natural resources industry will have different website goals and a different content strategy than a retail company. Website agencies are often available for content strategy consultation, and can guide companies through the types of content their target market will want to see first.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

7. Websites get stale

If we can get away with this one without the cheesy music starting to play: a website is a living thing. Once a site’s finished, it doesn’t just sit there, looking perfect, forever and ever. In a few years, after the iPhone 64 has been released, your website probably won’t look so hot if it hasn’t been updated with the latest design trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they don’t have the time to be thinking about how their website looks, especially on all the different devices out there. Website agencies are on top of the trends and latest updates (it’s our job). They think about this part and let you know if something needs to change so you don’t have to worry.

 

Conclusion: Think twice before you drag-and-drop

We hope this gave you a brief overview of some of the main challenges our clients face when they come to us for a website redesign. Though DIY website builders are a lot cheaper to build, factors like safety, constant maintenance, and keeping the site fresh for years to come are why companies hire website agencies to do the job. Think about the most important goals for your company and decide from there.

 


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