Business websites generally have the same overall purpose: to turn visitors into customers and encourage a healthy profit. Naturally each website has its own goals and requirements, which vary widely across different sectors and industries, but there’s one common theme they should all have in mind.
They should be memorable.
Because a memorable website guarantees you two things: return visits from happy customers, and lots of shares and recommendations. All great for boosting your profits.
One of the best ways to make your website memorable is by introducing a little fun. Now we’re not suggesting you turn your website into a comedy club production or a circus troupe (unless of course you are a comedy club or circus troupe!). We simply mean incorporating some elements into your site to surprise and delight your customers, and add to their overall enjoyment while using it.
There’s no single recipe for success, and obviously, the extent to which you embrace this depends largely on the nature of your business. But we have come up with a few tips and tricks to engage your visitors and help your website stick around in their minds.
CREATE SOME ENTERTAINMENT
People love to have fun, even on work time, so create some entertainment. And no, adding fun elements to your site doesn’t mean you’re not serious about your work. On the contrary. Those who work hard and have fun while working are generally more energised, more creative and more productive.
There are several standard pages that appear on most websites, such as about and case studies, and these are prime spots to add a little fun and personality to help you stand out. Just as we have on our Team page, with the creation of South Park characters for our team bios.
Meomi is a creative studio dedicated to ‘play, delight and whimsy’ and its website reflects this perfectly. It’s filled with tiny characters that move when you hover over them and there’s lots to discover as you explore the site. It’s a fairly busy site, but it suits the brand.
Anthropologie is an online clothing store that regularly features drinks recipes on its blog, like this Starfruit Sparkler.
While they don’t sell drinks, these recipes are a great success for two reasons. They’re seasonal and they feature unusual ingredients and flavours, much like the unique style of Anthropologie’s clothing. So they appeal to their target audience and ensure people pop back to the site regularly to check out new recipes.
Running little competitions or giving away free stuff are other excellent ways of creating a little entertainment for your website.
PLAY AROUND WITH NAVIGATION AND MENUS
Standard navigation menus can get kind of dull. And while this is one area you have to be careful – if people can’t find an easy way to navigate your site, they’re likely to simply hit the back button – there are plenty of ways you can liven this up.
One is to create a themed navigation menu that’s based on your niche, like Mint Design Company. Their tagline, ‘Melding art with technology’ fits beautifully with the hand-drawn menu items that are redrawn as you hover over them.
Web designers are also experimenting with hidden menus, such as the burger bar, or making the menu and accompanying image cover the entire homepage, to striking effect.
TELL GREAT STORIES
This is classic advice for a very good reason: it works. Loyal customers develop over time, and storytelling is a great way to enhance those bonds. Your about page is the ideal spot to tell your brand story, and being honest – i.e. including the rough patches and lessons learned – is an excellent way to build trust. Teehan+Lax do a great job on their site, including images and snippets of conversation to break up the text.
CHOOSE CAPTIVATING TEXT & FONTS
Using striking fonts to highlight certain points will help to get your message across and create a memorable site. You need to get the balance right here – you don’t want to distract from your message by choosing something too elaborate; you want to enhance your message. You could do this by incorporating elements of what you do into the fonts, such as using rope text for headings if you run a sailing business.
Don’t forget what you say remains the most important thing, so ensure there’s plenty of good content on your page so your visitors will return. Do weave in some clever word play, or some catchphrases or jokes, as long as they’re relevant to your tone, style and business.
5. INCORPORATE STYLISH ANIMATION
Animation is an excellent tool for customer engagement, and sites that incorporate it cleverly are sure to stick around in the minds of their visitors.
Ben the Bodyguard, an app that protects passwords and other sensitive data on iPhones and iPads, uses animation to great effect on its website. The dark animation brilliantly captures the tone of the site and engages the audience, while using storytelling to demonstrate the usefulness of the app.
Robby Leonardi, a New York-based designer, created a stir with his interactive resume, in the style of a Mario game. It’s unique, and oh so memorable.
TURN FRUSTRATION INTO FUN
Some aspects of browsing a website, like stumbling upon a broken link or waiting for a heavy animation to load, can be hugely frustrating for visitors. But while they often can’t be helped, you can lessen the frustration by adding an element of surprise or fun to the mix.
Instead of a boring old 404 page, design something humorous that fits with your brand to help diffuse an otherwise frustrating situation, like the guys at LEGO did here.
Or get creative and take inspiration from modern media, like Bret Victor does with his pop culture-style 404 page.
Likewise, it can be difficult to avoid a slow-loading page but you can make your visitors smile while they wait, as the guys at 50M.space did with their clever loading animation that reflects the overall theme and design of their website.
MAKE FORMS FUN
Let’s face it, contact forms have a very important function, but standard forms can be plain and, well, a little dull. But with a dash of creativity and imagination, you can add an element of fun to your form, while ensuring it still fits with the theme running through your website. Pixel Wrapped, a company that designs visual experiences for the web, gets it spot on with this simple, yet engaging form. The contact sheet is the paper in an old-fashioned typewriter and, as an added element of fun, when you start typing your details, the matching keys on the typewriter are animated.
If you want to engage your audience and encourage them to return to your website, you need to ensure they have a great user experience. By adding a little fun and including some elements to surprise and delight them, you will ensure your website is one they remember, for all the right reasons.
Remember that variety is the spice of life, so add new stuff to your website frequently, and change your pictures, animation and background to keep things fresh and retain your audience’s interest.