Does Your Website Have Personality?

Bill Slawski recently asked the question what kind of personality does your website have?

A few of the questions Bill asks:

  • If you take a close look at a website, can you describe its personality?
  • Is it cold or warm and welcoming?
  • Is it written for a male audience or a female audience or a general audience?
  • Does it speak to a younger crowd, or an older group?
  • Does it ask for something of value without providing anything in return?
  • Is it more like a peer talking to you directly, or like a parent lecturing you?

There are more questions in the post, which I’ll let you read for yourself.

Some might say a website is a thing and doesn’t really have a personality. I’d disagree if they did. I was very conscious when I rewrote the copy as part of the redesign of this site, to have it convey my personality. I doubt I did that perfectly, but I did try to inject more of myself into the site, since several of my clients commented to me that my personality is one of the reasons they hired me and stick with me.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve gained more leads and closed on more projects since I did.

By giving your site a personality you can communicate a lot more than just what the words say. You can also communicate those things more effectively. If you tell me you’re funny it will carry less weight than if you make me laugh. If you say you’re friendly it won’t mean as much as if you were to welcome me warmly.

Giving your site personality calls forth the advice “show, don’t tell” and if you can show your visitors your personality and the personality of your business you’ll be able to communicate thoughts, ideas, and emotions, that words along can’t.

Personality and Brand

My HBDI profile
photo credit: juhansonin

‘Show, don’t tell” comes into play with your business’ brand as well. A company that tells you it’s environmentally conscious while it dumps waste in the river behind its factory damages their brand and the message they want to convey.

The company that silently uses recycled materials in all it’s products and reduces waste along its entire supply line promotes their brand as environmentally friendly.

Each of the above companies has a personality that shows in its actions, not in its words. Show, don’t tell.

Your website is the same. The words you use are important, no question, but it’s the actions on your site that get across your personality and further a consistent brand.

  • Does your site work the way it’s supposed to? Has it been developed well? If not, is there any reason your visitors should think your products and services will deliver what you claim?
  • Is your site trustworthy? Is your copy an accurate representation of you and your business? If not, is there any reason to think your customers should trust you?
  • Is your site easy to navigate? Is it obvious where to go next and simple to find things? If not, is there any reason for your clients to think you’ll be easy to reach when they have a question?

Don’t just tell people about your company, your services, and your products. Show them, by giving your site a personality that reflects who you are and represents your brand. Let that personalty show through in the actions you take in designing and developing your site. Choose appropriate colors and create copy that conveys emotions that further your message.

Does your website have a personality? What is it? Does it reinforce your brand? What personality do you think this site puts forth? Does the site seem consistent with my brand?

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

10 comments

  1. People connect with personality, sure, but what REALLY makes a website (or a website’s personality) stand out is how that website makes you FEEL.

    Is the website friendly, helpful, or welcoming? Does it make you feel like you are smart for reading it or like a genius for sticking around? Or does the website make you feel dumb or like you’re wasting your time?

    Personality is great, but it’s how the personality makes you feel that really makes a difference.

    • Good points Tanner. I do think a lot of how a website makes you feel comes from its personality, though. The two seem somewhat tied together to me. A friendly website makes you feel welcome. A helpful website makes you feel smart for reading it.

      I do agree though, that in the end it’s how the site makes you feel.

  2. Hi Steven,

    I think Tanner raises a good point, and travels in the same direction that I was when I wrote my post – breath some life into your site, give it some emotion, make it engaging, and keep it from being a cookie cutter imitation of many thousands of other sites. I think you’ve done a great job of that with your redesign.

    I like the questions and points about brand that you raise in your post. I think those are important for site owners and business owners to keep in mind.

    • Thanks for dropping by Bill and thanks for the compliments on the redesign.

      I agree with Tanner. I do think a site’s personality and the feeling you get from it are tied together, but it is the emotion it makes you feel that’s what makes the site engaging.

      I guess the site that fails is the one that emphasizes style over substance. Make that’s akin to having a fake personality.

      When it comes to brand I think a lot of small business owners think it’s something beyond them. They see it as a big budget kind of thing. But I’ve always felt the consistency part was the more important component. If your actions can be consistent with the image you want to convey you will build a brand. It may not reach far at first, but it will still be strong with the community that knows you.

  3. One problem I see is perception is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone can perceive the personality from the same site differently.

    Like you mentioned, so many factors go into the sites personality. Color scheme, sentence structure, and layout.

    How can a person be sure the viewing public perceives their site the way they intended?

    • True, but that can be said about everything you do. You can’t ever be sure that the entire viewing public perceives the site the way you intended, but you don’t need everyone to.

      My thought here is that I’m going to be myself. For the people who see that and like the ‘me’ I’m injecting into the site will be more likely to contact me about work. Is it possible I can lose some people who might have called, but don’t see the site the way I’m intending? Sure, but overall the net gain should outweigh the net loss.

      You’re site will never be everything to all people so don’t try to make it that way. In my case I determined that people were hiring in me in part, because they liked me as a person. So I tried to get more of me across in the site.

      If I did that poorly, it won’t work. If I did it well, it should work and the end result should be a positive gain.

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