The benefits of a modern website for livery companies
Livery companies are missing a huge opportunity when it comes to their website
A modern website can help educate and promote the company to a new audience who may possibly not be familiar with the ancient trades and modern day guilds.
Sam Meade Business Development Manager
Livery companies represent some of London’s oldest and most ancient trades and professions.
Many of which can trace their formation back to the middle ages.
However, if you happen to look at the variety of website experiences across the sector, it would appear that many websites look like they come from that period too!
Livery companies play such an important and crucial role in today’s society, whether it’s providing regular charitable contributions and voluntary aid or steering and guiding the future within education.
We would therefore expect their websites to allow for a better representation of their company through bespoke design and modern functionality that allow them and their members to carry out tasks digitally.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the vast majority.
On the whole, livery companies are missing a huge opportunity when it comes to their website experience and we’re going to outline some potential opportunities now.
As a sector, it is way behind the digital curve.
To caveat the above statement, we have to mention that several livery companies do have a modern website experience that provides real value to those visiting it.
However, with there being 110 livery companies today, that group is limited to only a few.
Whilst many livery companies are well over a century old, there are many modern companies that represent modern-day professions such as information technologists and international bankers.
But just by glancing at a handful of company websites, modern isn’t necessarily a word that can be used to describe the state of digital within the sector.
And that is certainly a shame, as livery companies are incredibly intriguing with a huge role to play in modern-day society.
Some areas which livery companies could consider:
Responsiveness – Many of the websites across the sector are not at all responsive. Website responsiveness nowadays isn’t so much as a nice to have but in fact a necessity. Mobile traffic has only increased year upon year in the last decade and according to research, overtook desktop traffic back in 2016. With the increased adoption of other touch devices like laptops and tablets, providing a fully responsive website experience for each device is paramount to a successful website experience.
Inadequate website technologies – Another insight we picked up on is that many livery company websites are utilising website building platforms like Wix or GoDaddy, with others reverting to WordPress themes. Website builders certainly have their place in the market. They’re great at helping businesses to launch a website presence and even implement features that can tackle issues by providing a digital solution. You can even customise certain design elements too allowing for the brand to be represented. However, they’re not so great in providing a completely tailored experience where the design is moulded around the personality, brand and key messages of that livery company. Many website builders and themes offer a one size fits all approach instead of focusing specifically on the organisation that is looking to use that solution.
Limited functionality – Many of the livery company websites we analysed appear to not have had any website redesign or development for up to a decade. That is an incredibly long time in website years, especially with the rate of digital innovation that we have seen in recent years. This means that there are several website features currently being missed out on that livery companies could be taking advantage of. Many of the websites that we analysed are what we call ‘brochure websites’, which exist to provide information about the company to those that visit the website. Whilst they have their place today, for companies that contribute so much to society, we expect a little bit more.
The benefits that can be reaped.
By nature, livery companies do not tend to shout too much publicly about their exploits.
So whilst online visibility and search engine optimisation (SEO) performance may not appear to rank too highly for these organisations, there are several benefits that a new website can provide them with.
We have broken them down into design, features and performance.
Establishes brand – In the digital age, your website is an extension of your company that helps to establish your brand and solidify your value proposition. A bespoke design that enables your company’s culture, brand and key messages to be showcased enables a distinctive and memorable experience.
Sets first impression – Most people’s first impression of your company may come through the website. It is important to create the best first digital impression to ensure you can make a positive impact on your audience. An outdated design can make your company look unprofessional and tired, which will deter them from your website.
Increased accessibility – With mobile traffic ever on the up, we can assume that the modern-day website visitor is on the go. Ensuring that your website is not just compatible with the ever expanding range of devices but able to provide a pleasant experience no matter the device is important. Being readily available anywhere and to anyone will help improve engagement over time.
Better awareness of events – An events calendar on your website whether part of the main website or behind a members area, helps to grow and generate interest in upcoming events whether with members or the public.
Increased bookings – Allowing for a booking integration within a livery company website can remove the manual process of signing up visitors to events. Payment can even be taken if integrated with a payment gateway which can help generate revenue.
Greater member engagement – A secured and password protected members area lets members benefit from having all of their hidden content in a specific place, saving them the aggravation and time of having to find it elsewhere.
Boost reputation as a thought leader – Livery companies are often seen as the experts within a specific profession or trade, with the majority of members having contributed to the sector for years. Having a news section or blog area can provide a great platform to share that invaluable knowledge, helping to boost your reputation as a thought leader.
Continued security – An outdated website can make you prone to hackers, which can make any data stored whether within a protected area or not, very vulnerable. Keeping your website fresh and updated allows you to benefit from bug fixes, new features, and security issue fixes.
Improve conversion – Clarity is key to get and keep the website visitors’ attention. Keeping the experience simple with easy to read fonts and visible backgrounds avoids page clutter, which helps move the user through the experience.
Improve speed – Faster websites perform way better than their slower counterparts. If you’re able to keep page load speeds to two seconds and below, you will see better engagement as you improve the experience for your website visitors.
What we did for the Worshipful Company of Dyers.
With the Dyers being among one of the higher ranked livery companies in order of precedence, they boast a very rich history and heritage in the craft of dying.
Like many of the older livery companies, they have had to adjust to the modern climate, with their long-term aim to promote the use of colour, by attracting new talent into the commercial and academic sectors.
They plan to do this by supporting the continuing quest for excellence within the industry, by having a website that doesn’t just act as a promotional tool, but one that is a preferred destination for those looking to reference key industry observations and thought leadership pieces.
We worked collaboratively with the company to deliver a website experience that reflects the prestige and heritage of the Dyers Company, which celebrates colour.
The bespoke website design created by our team boasts vibrant bursts of colour, all perfectly balanced with ample white space that allows for focus on important parts of the page.
Simple yet intuitive animation allows for a pleasant user experience where you are treated to colour transitions between pages reminiscent of the book ‘The Secret Lives of Colour’ by Kassia St Clair.
A key feature of this modern website is the interactive timeline element that aims to educate and provide a platform for website visitors looking to experience the key milestones within the company’s abundant history, from their conception in 1188 through to the present day.
The opportunities for livery companies are for all to see.
Just because the majority of livery companies can trace their roots back to the middle ages, doesn’t justify having a website experience that is dated.
A modern website can help educate and promote the company to a new audience who may possibly not be familiar with the ancient trades and modern-day guilds.
New websites can bring new features that aim to provide a better experience to members too, removing some of the headaches and frustrations that come from having a website not aligned to their needs.
The benefits and opportunities of a modern website are there for all to see and it is only right that these fantastic companies are suitably represented online.
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