Hannah Cade, Lead Graphic Designer
Telling a story can be one of the most difficult parts of designing an engaging website. Working within advocacy, there tends to be a neverending supply of sites designed for info dumping with FAQs and resources, but lacking the human connection. It is the name of the game in the industry though - people need all the facts. They serve a purpose, yes, but at the end of the day, a website needs to stand out against a sea of competitors. How do you stand out and turn against the status quo? YOU TELL A STORY. Draw your audience in, tell them who you are, why you do what you do and where you are going. Make them believe in your goals and passions.
Here’s Where to Start
Be Personable and Transparent:
A website is a core piece of branding for a company or organization. It helps set a tone for how supporters will interact with your cause. Therefore it is time to step away from dry basic corporate mumbo jumbo. Create a connection of who your brand is with written and visual elements. Transparency goes hand and hand with being personable. In short, concise sections tell people:
What inspired this specific advocacy journey
Your mission (please put more than a mission statement. It is fantastic but it does not give enough information for readers to truly understand and bond with your brand)
What your company/organization’s goals are for the future
Who you are advocating for and why
Stories and testimonials of people who have been affected by what you are advocating for/against
Design Outside the Box:
As a designer, I have seen firsthand how hard it is for clients to push the envelope on design. It is so easy to stay in the same position as competitors and opposition - walls of text and simple resources. It works, so why change? Change to be better is my honest answer. You are now advocating to generations that are so intertwined with the media that the more eye-catching the content, the better it is for you as a company or organization. How does staying the same drive a person to engage or share with a friend or even recall your website to tell a colleague in the break room (or slack can’t forget our virtual peeps)?
For design to tell a story, it does not need to be over complicated. Think of how people can interact with your website.
At the end of the day, the design is what can engage users to interact with your most important information and remember who and what you stand for. Making large quantities of information more digestible will help readers understand and recall the content's intended purpose. Digestible information can be displayed through infographic-styled homepages or quick facts that pop, helping to break up blocky sections.
Visuals, Visuals, Visuals:
When you can, provide your design agency with as much video and imagery collateral as possible. It’s important to give plenty of options to show off the brand. If you don’t have independent collateral, we know that stock collateral is our best friend within the industry of advocacy. It is hard to connect branded imaging to overarching topics. One tip is to make sure the collateral that you and your design agency choose is directly correlated to or supports your brand identity. For example, if you are speaking on a topic related to industrial crops and their workers, it is better to display someone working or the crops themselves in their environment. Rather than that of vegetable staged or just a worker standing there smiling. The staged image can come across as cold or detached, giving viewers nothing to actually connect to.
The story is what people advocate for. The information about policies and movement in legislation is necessary, but the true star is the relatable story that brings their hearts and their mind to the issue at hand. It’s time to step away from the cold, bland corporate style and dig deep to show the passion and drive the organization has to help people and make change.