New website design for Bristol business, Isme People.
A case study combining personal branding photography, copywriting and website design for Bristol-based recruitment business, Isme People.
TL;DR: Check out the new website here: ismepeople.co.uk
If you’re about to create a new website, there’s a huge amount to consider before you’re ready to share your new product or service. You may have completed the groundwork or perhaps you’re still exploring what information you need, what to do first and who to talk to. Before you get started you’ll need to have a clear understanding of:
Your target audience and how your product or service helps them.
Your brand positioning.
Why will your customers buy from you?
How will you communicate your offer so it’s easy to understand?
How to find and work with web designers, business photographers and copywriters to bring your project to life.
It sounds simple but often businesses overcomplicate their messaging. If your customers don’t get what you do quickly and feel a connection with you, they’ll go elsewhere. Your job is to communicate clearly, build trust and create a connection that encourages your customers to get in touch.
Following a recent collaboration (client, business photographer, copywriter and myself as the web designer), I thought it would be useful to take you through the process.
To start, you’ll hear from Nick Cole of Nick Cole Photography. He created the personal branding photography. I will then talk about my role as the web designer and you’ll also hear from the client’s perspective.
We’re going to focus on the website design process and creating your personal branding photography. Your copy is incredibly important too. If you’re interested in working with a copywriter this article is a great place to start and will give you the confidence to hand over your words to someone else.
Before we get started it’s important to say this was a website relaunch for an established business, with one business owner. She was clear on the brand positioning and what made her business different, so most of the groundwork had been completed.
Cathy Knight, director of Bristol-based Isme Recruitment, specialising in recruitment services in Bristol and the west, was relaunching the business as Isme People. As the sole director of the new business, Cathy is at the heart of the business. If you decide to work with Isme People you’re buying into Cathy, her skills, her experience and industry knowledge. It was really important for Cathy to be visible with her new website. The website and photography needed to communicate her experience, warmth, and approachability and outline the recruitment services to businesses and employees.
Deciding who to work with
Cathy met Nick from Nick Cole Photography, Louise Maggs from Graphic Design by Louise (now known as Louise Maggs Design), and Barry Hunt from WordSmart Communications through a networking group. Networking had given Cathy the opportunity to get to know Nick, Louise and Barry before deciding she wanted to work with them. If you don’t network or have existing contacts it may take a little longer to choose your creative partners, but it’s worth taking time to consider your options. Ask for referrals, look at their work and talk to them. Do you like their style and approach? Do you feel a connection? Make sure they have experience with projects like yours and check out their reviews.
The project team
The website designer is typically at the heart of the project as they collate the copy, the brand guidelines and the photography and bring it all to life. But for the project team to work effectively, you need to be confident your brief is clear and the team are working well together. Regular project updates or group zoom meetings are a great way to ensure everything stays on track.
Louise Maggs Design: My role as the web designer
When I create websites for my clients, I use a 4-stage process which enables me to consider all areas of the website build. Contrary to popular belief it’s not just about designing a website that “looks nice”. The website needs to be able to direct the target audience to a clear outcome – the call to action. This is usually a contact form, a telephone number or another way to easily contact the business owner. A website also needs to be set up correctly, not only to connect with the audience but to enable Google to understand what the website is about. If Google doesn’t understand your website, it will struggle to show your website in relevant searches. Of course, the website should be visually engaging and easy to navigate. If it isn’t it’s unlikely to encourage visitors to stay and connect with the business owner.
The first stage of my website design process is the Prepare & Research Stage where I get to know my clients. It was lovely to get to know Cathy, her business and all of the elements she wanted to showcase to her target audiences. After the research stage, I was able to move onto the second stage of my web design process: the Wireframe Stage. This was where I map out the structure of the website so Cathy could understand the user journey and make sure the website structure would work for her. Cathy had engaged Barry Hunt from WordSmart Communications and I was able to share the wireframe so he could understand the project and write great content. The copy was really well written and easily explained Isme People’s services in an engaging and informative way.
Cathy had also chosen to work with Nick from Nick Cole Photography to create her brand photographs, which was brilliant news for me as I knew that Nick and I would work really well together. Nick and I discussed and shared ideas for Cathy’s project. We each knew what Cathy was looking for in her photography and her website and we made sure we were considering each other’s requirements. For example, Nick checked with me if I was planning to overlay copy on the images, and if so, would I require extra copy space to be considered in the photographs? I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t too restrictive with the images that I could use within the website, so was happy to be guided by Nick with his thoughts on imagery and style.
Cathy decided she wanted her photoshoot to take place in Bristol, which is where the business is based. Once the photoshoot had taken place and the final images were sent to me, I was then able to move onto the Design & Build stage. To start this stage I needed the copy from Barry and the images from Nick. I was then able to start creating the website and I spent time catching up with Cathy at various stages, so she could approve the website design and stay involved in the process.
After the website was designed and approved by Cathy, the final Go Live stage was planned. We went live and the feedback has been incredible.
Choosing a photographer and creating personal branding photography for your website
People buy from people. So, the initial connection you create with your photography is essential if you want to encourage them to find out more about you. When people can see you, when the images are good quality, there’s a much greater chance they’ll connect with you and what your business represents. Choosing a photographer is a personal choice. It’s important you like their work, so take a good look at their portfolio. Can you imagine their style of photography on your website?
The next step is to set up a call with your photographer. They’ll want to know a bit about you, your business and what you’re hoping to achieve. Personal branding and business storytelling photography is a bespoke service so you’ll want to feel confident they can create the style you’re looking for and that you feel a connection with your photographer. A professional personal branding photographer will guide and collaborate with you. They’ll work with you to create content that’s aligned with your business and your customers. There’ll be an overlap with the work you’re doing with your web designer, but most projects can be broken down into three simple stages.
1) The planning stage
It’s essential to get to know the client, their business and what they’re hoping to achieve. It’s a collaborative process where we explore…
Your services, your core message and how you want to come across.
How you feel about being photographed.
The style of photography.
Where the images will be used? Is it just for your website or maybe for a digital or print project as well?
Any graphic design elements that need to be considered.
Occasionally the planning stage highlights areas that require clarification. It’s best to step back and check the direction again at this point, rather than further down the line. Only when you have a clear brief should you move forwards to the photo session. Let’s put it another way, the time spent planning and preparing upfront is crucial to the success of the project. It’s also important to check your photographer has experience working with web designers and they understand the technical requirements. As Louise mentioned, your photographer should be talking to the web designer throughout the process to ensure the photographs meet the design brief.
2) The photo session
This is where we draw on the outputs from the planning stage and we capture the images. By this point, you should be clear on the location, outfits and styling, the style of photography and how the images will be used. It’s also helpful to discuss any concerns you may have about being in front of the camera. Your photo session should be fun too! By relaxing and getting involved, you’ll add the sparkle and connection that’s such an important part of successful personal branding photography.
3) The edit and delivery of your photography
The edit is where we choose the strongest images and enhance and prepare them for the web designer. Your photos will be also optimised for your website. We want them to look great but they also need to load quickly for a great user experience. Your website designer can also give you some simple tips to optimise your images for search. Including the right keywords in your images can help Google read your images, improving your SEO and Google ranking. It may seem scary at the start, but with careful planning, you’ll end up with a set of bespoke images that are fit for purpose, authentic and you feel proud to share.
“When I decided to re-brand and create a new website earlier this year I chose to engage people I had met through virtual networking during the pandemic, these individuals heard me talk about my business on a regular basis, they’d been on the journey with me and they were people I could trust.
I engaged the support first of Louise Maggs from Graphic Design by Louise who created the website for me. I then approached Barry Hunt from WordSmart Communications to help write the copy for the website and Nick Cole from Nick Cole Photography to take the photos.
It was such an easy and enjoyable process, these individuals all took the time to get things 100% right for me, to understand what I was trying to achieve and knew me well enough to make suggestions that helped create a website I am really proud to share.
I’m not a technical person but Louise explained things in layman’s terms for me and gave me just the right level of detail, I had complete faith that she would create something perfect for me. Barry really understood my tone of voice and was able to create copy that was completely aligned.
Finally, Nick completely put me at ease, I hate having my photo taken but he was able to help me relax which really shows in the photos, I actually liked all of them which was very rare!!
An example of how networking creates collaborations, these individuals all knew each other and how to work well as a team and I would have no hesitation in recommending these guys to any of my clients or friends.”
Cathy Knight, Director, Isme People.