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  • Posted by: Ruth Rivera on Monday, September 10 2012 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

    As businesses continue to evolve the relationship between their brands and their consumers, great pains are taken to create an idealized experience across touchpoints, both physical and digital. For many organizations, the website is the gateway into creating and nurturing relationships with audiences. From the visitor’s point of view, each click is expected to uncover information and further the journey not only into the website but also with the brand.

    So what happens when a visitor takes a bad turn? If you have a broken link on your site (or a site incorrectly hyperlinks you) visitors are likely to land on an error, or “404” page. In a recent TED talk, Renny Gleeson, Global Digital Strategies Director for Wieden+Kennedy, likened coming across a 404 page as “the feeling of a broken relationship…it’s like a slap in the face.”

    Error Message

    Error pages are disappointing and frustrations that arise from these moments can force an abrupt end to an interaction a user is having with a brand. Research by the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”) suggests that 404 Errors can reduce site usage by as much as 10%.

    A robust digital experience is central to maintaining a successful brand. Just as important as the website’s UI or its content is how a brand addresses the kinks that inevitably come along during a visitor’s experience. To address these frustrations, educate visitors and create a little fun, business are now incorporating branded moments and conversations into these intrinsic annoyances of the web experience.

    So while you cannot always control the cause of an error page, you can minimize hurt feelings with a custom 404 page that addresses the issue and invites visitors alternative paths to continue on their journey. You may have seen attempts at humorous 404 pages, good for keeping visitors entertained. But what goes into making a valuable branded 404 page?

    A well-branded 404 page serves as a moment to educate, to encourage a search or to display related information visitors might be interested in reading. When creating or updating your custom 404 page, keep the following tips in mind to ensure your audience stays with you:

    Explain: Quickly let the visitor know where they are and why the error has occurred.

    Look and Feel: The error page should look as good as the rest of your website (if not more appealing to keep visitors engaged).

    Voice: Avoid technical jargon and speak to your audience as your brand would across all touchpoints.

    Wayfinding: Provide your audience with some intuitive and easy options to keep them on your website, including a search box. Think about the most valuable sections, articles, blog posts or pages on your website as options to share with visitors.

    Tracking: Identify common entry routes to your 404 page to spot, fix and minimize broken links.

    404

    While 404 pages are unavoidable, losing your audiences is not. Leverage a smartly executed 404 page to create a second chance to re-engage visitors, create a branded moment and direct them to what makes your brand great.

    Ruth Rivera is a Strategy Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Simon Clancy on Monday, November 15 2010 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

    Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2010 forum took place last week in Yokohama and I just cannot help but be critical of the event’s brand touchpoints. Aside from the World Economic Forum in Davos, APEC is becoming one of the world’s largest economic events. Every November, member nations from the Asia-Pacific Rim converge in a different city, to discuss the future of the Asia-Pacific region. But if Asia-Pacific is serious about leading the world in economics, trade and technology, then like all brands within Asia-Pacific, it must take branding seriously.

    A quick comparison of APEC and WEF’s digital touchpoints demonstrate APEC’s deficiencies when it comes to branding. Both organizations have a Facebook page. However, WEF’s Facebook page is brilliant: Clear and logical with quick links to the official Facebook Fan Page, the WEF blog and the WEF website. I am not surprised that it has over 13,000 Facebook fans. (Not bad for an economic NGO.) The page also has a YouTube tab that is packed with up-to-the-minute interviews with world leaders and reports from regional forums. The LiveStream tab is presented as an interactive TV station with links to share on Twitter, Facebook and Buzz, plus a chat and social stream feature. Whoever thought economics, trade and international security could be so much fun?

    In contrast, APEC’s Facebook presence is poor. It is comprised of three amateur photographs, a discussion tab with no comments since 2008, and an info tab containing clumsy information. Overall, the experience is disappointing. If APEC accounts for 40 percent of the world’s population and nearly half of world GDP then it must get serious and focus on communicating a strong message with intelligent brand touchpoints. Judge for yourselves: WEF vs. APEC.

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