I just finished a very special project: linseycorbin.com. Talk about a tough client. My wife was my first BRAND and one that's still near and dear to my heart. Literally. As with all projects, there is more than meets the eye, so I wanted to share some thoughts and observations.
Fancy is dead. The days of fancy frameworks are over. Most of these died with flash, but even today custom design elements, plugins, etc. cause more bad than good. They break in browser updates, and they're difficult to make responsive (responds to various screen sizes). It's the content (especially for athletes) and not the fancy framework that creates the differentiation keeps people coming back. Compare Google to Yahoo or Myspace to Facebook. In both cases, fancy died.
Let analytics be your guide. The beauty of digital is you can see exactly how people use a site, what they care about and what they click on. It was a little disturbing to see the amount of time spent on photos of my wife, but I knew from the analytics the photo page was important. The remainder of the site navigation was built accordingly.
Establish a Hub and Spoke model. Linsey has hundreds of thousand brand impressions in various social media channels and media outlets. I call these touch points the spokes. Her website is the hub. The hub is always a richer brand experience than the spokes. It's also an experience you can measure and control. In a dream world, the spokes are driving traffic to the hub, because the Hub is real estate you own.
Don't build a Hub on real estate you don't own. With the growth of social media, I've seen several athletes in this sport abandon their hubs. This is a big mistake as you lose reach and analytics to can monetize. You don't own social media channels. Thus, if Facebook issues a "pay to play policy" for brands – which they've done – you're at their mercy. If you've build an audience on your own real estate, then you get to the call the shots.
All design matters. The framework of the website simple. (not by accident, see #1). As such, I knew the fonts and more subtle deign elements were critical to get right. I worked with Brian Lindstrom Trek Bikes and Newbaric to guide this journey. We also used some design he had created on cycling kits, and bikes to provide continuity of the site and other touch points.
One step at a time. Similar to winning an Ironman, the digital branding process is a grind. Nothing is built overnight and the ecosystems are constantly evolving. The latest version of linseycorbin.com is an improvement on many levels function and design. What's more important is how we use this platform to create stories and unique brand experiences moving forward.