Company website – key things to look out for when building a company website

I. What is it for

The purpose of a corporate website is to sell your organisation to the world. We use the word “sell” in a broad sense: to sell is to convey a message that your company is bringing value to the world and that it is a good idea for the visitor to get involved.

For the purpose of this article, here is our own corporate website definition:

A corporate website tries to tell you about the company itself. On a product website you learn about a product. On a company’s website, you learn about the people who stand behind the product. And that can often be important information that various people will use to decide whether they want to have anything to do with you and your products.

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II. Who is the audience

Your audience is probably someone who is, at least, a little bit interested in your company, AND probably someone who can affect your business: (1) a customer, (2) an investor, (3) a journalist, (4) a regulator.

These people usually want to know: (A) who are you, (B) what value do you bring (to them, to the world) (C) are you succeeding in doing that (D) and… what kind of people are you (can you be trusted? What are your morals? Do you care about others?).

In an ideal world, this is what they will think after visiting your website: “here’s a company that does fascinating things, they make our lives better, they are successful at doing this, I want to be a part of it”.

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III. Constructing the message

If you want to present yourself as a trustworthy person, it’s not the best idea to walk around, saying “I’m trustworthy”. It’s much better to show what you did, how you acted in the past; that shows your trustworthiness.

So when we say “successful organizations say why they do what they do” it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a literal text: “here’s why we do it”.  The why can be conveyed through kind of stories you tell. The why can be conveyed by the actions you took (e.g. building wells in rural areas).

Here’s what the messaging looks like on the best company websites:

  1. They say who they are in terms of the benefit they bring to the world.
  2. They illustrate this benefit with examples, visualisations – anything that helps you understand the value.
  3. They convey their purpose; why they do it.
  4. They ask you to take action.

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IV. Corporate websites examples

Here are a few examples of well made company websites. No website is 100% perfectly done. That’s why we use different websites to show examples of what has been done right.

Ecole Ducasse’s ID-Benefit introduction

Like a good salesman, Ecole Ducasse introduces itself by saying how you can benefit from getting to know them. This type of introduction shows the benefit in the first sentence.

Screen of Ecole Ducasse main page

NY Times’ Mission Well Expressed

NY Times starts with their mission (expressed as a benefit for the customers, mind you). It’s important to express your mission in terms of benefit to other people. They might have said “we are the biggest truth seeker in the world”. Instead, they say what they do for you.

Screen of NY Times page

The next slide tells us they are successful at it: “The New York Times Hits 6.5 Million Total Subscriptions”.

Screen of NY Times main page

They show you external proofs of quality of their work.

Screen of NY Times main page

Santander “this is our purpose” approach

Banco Santander starts with the purpose. It’s rarely seen in such big organisations to speak about the purpose upfront. We like that approach very much, because it speaks about the value they try to bring to the world. Could they be more specific? Maybe – note that when you hear this sentence, you want to ask: “and how are you doing that, Banco Santander?”.

Screen of Santander Bank main page

Unfortunately, what follows doesn’t exactly address the question of “how are you doing that”. We get a standard news section. Ideally, the news topics would help illustrate the claim in the key visual. If the claim is about helping people and businesses prosper, it would be nice to have examples of how Santander helps people and businesses prosper.

Screen of Santander Bank

McKinsey & Company’s “have a taste of our expertise” approach

McKinsey & Company’s corporate website is basically a publishing channel. Like a journal featuring what McKinsey’s people think about the world. They give you a taste of their expertise – and that’s their way of saying: “we’re smart, hire us”.

Screen of McKinsey main page

“We are nice people to work with” – McKinsey seems to say to candidates. Everyone knows McKinsey is big and professional. Maybe you get an image of love from the picture. It’s like regular people who are nice to you, not the “Suits” type, cold over-achievers. We don’t know how intentional this was (the sweater doesn’t fit perfectly – it’s a “regular person” look, and that makes it perfect for this context).


Screen of McKinsey main page

Campos’ Coffee “this is who we are, this is our process” approach

Campos Coffee is quick to tell you about their “love for specialty coffee” and “hours tasting and testing (…) so your morning starts right every time”.  It looks like a sentence about them, but in reality it is about a benefit to you. They make a claim, and then substantiate the claim by showing you examples and telling you about their process.

Screen of Campos’ Coffee main page

Barclays case study approach

The Barclays corporate website basically says: “here’s what we recently did”.  We like this approach, because instead of making claims, they go straight to case studies, of how they have helped people. One small drawback of this webpage: it doesn’t explicitly say what Barclays does. But maybe, being one of the top UK brands, they don’t have to worry about that…?


Screen of Barclays main page

McDonald’s “we are not evil” approach

In this case, we like the simplicity of the design. It’s like the site is trying to convey: ‘we are not a large corporation”. We didn’t spend a lot of money for this website, because our true mission is to deliver food at a good price to working people. Plus: note, how this picture subtly conveys the message “doctors and nurses eat at McDonald’s all the time” (which I don’t condone).

Main page of McDonald’s corporate site

V. Artegence can help

We are a communications and UX agency that helps companies tell their story. We help you define your communication strategy (what should you be saying, to whom, by what means) as well as craft the messaging for your website down to the smallest detail. If you are thinking of design a new company website or redesign its, give us a call.

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