Things to Keep in Mind When Designing Your Community
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Branding is much more than a clever logo, attractive colors and rounded corners. It’s about building value in your company, building trust through quality and consistency, and ultimately retaining and gaining customers and partners.
So what is branding you ask? Well, it’s everything.
A brand represents the sum of people’s perception of a company’s products and services, marketing and, especially, customer service. When all of these components work in harmony the company earns a good reputation, and ultimately, helps put them on the path to building a healthy brand.
In short, your brand is the way people perceive your company.
BRANDING AND USER EXPERIENCE – JOINED AT THE HIP
User experience (UX) refers to the experience created as a sum of all of the touchpoints your company has with a group of people. A touchpoint could be a website, a support phone call, or a marketing email, but these unavoidably shape how your company is perceived. In this way, brand and user experience are very closely related, if not interdependent. Quality and consistency are key components to brand, and so a quality and consistent user experience is essential for building your brand.
WHY CONCENTRATE ON BRANDING AND USER EXPERIENCE?
It is impossible to ignore the incredible impact that great brand design and user experience can have on business. According to a 2013 study, design-led companies have outperformed the S&P 500 by an immense 228% over the past 10 years. – Forbes.com
MAKING IT HAPPEN…
To achieve this kind of success, it is critical to be aware of your brand and user experience, and have a plan to create the brand and user experience that your customers and partners desire. It doesn’t just happen; it must be a well thought out and strategic plan.
…IN SALESFORCE COMMUNITIES
Which brings us to your plan for your new Salesforce Community. (You have a plan, right? If not, check out our guide, “The ‘Secret Sauce’ to Building an Engaging Online Community”.) If you have built or are building a brand, you are going to want to extend that brand to your online community. That is where Salesforce’s Community Cloud comes in. Your Salesforce Community should be viewed as an extension of your public facing website. We recommend applying key branding and design constants to ensuring a seamless transition from one environment to another.
EXTEND YOUR UX AND BRAND STYLING INTO YOUR SALESFORCE COMMUNITY
In the entirety of a user experience, there are many customer or partner touchpoints and it is important to give them a consistent style.
Unify the look and feel
For consistent branding, the overall look and feel needs to be similar across all of your customer touchpoints to project the company image you have devised. Create a style guide that documents the use of colors, fonts, whitespace, imagery and logos, and use it to style your Salesforce Community. This means you may need to style Salesforce Community features such as Chatter, Chatter Questions, Ideas, and Knowledge.
Don’t forget mobile devices
If your online community will be accessed through a mobile device, the UI will need to be branded and styled consistently with the desktop UI to ensure a quality user experience. For insight on mobile strategies in Salesforce Communities, see our previous blog on mobile friendly and mobile responsive communities.
Use familiar user interactions
Besides the look and feel, you also need to be consistent with the design of the user interaction of custom pages. When entering a Customer or Partner Community, users are bringing with them previous website and UI experience, so it’s important to leverage common ‘online consumer’ paradigms. More about making your Salesforce Community usable and useful in our next post. Stay tuned.