What makes a great website? Most of the time you know it when you see it, but you just can’t put your finger on it. To have a website that stands head and shoulders above your competitors, brands must focus on creating engaging user experiences. To do so, here are ten points to keep in mind:
- Design for your buyer persona
- Less really is more
- Use interesting colors and quality imagery
- Make sure it works on all mobile and tablet devices (responsive)
- Gives users something to “stick” around for like a blog, videos or other forms of helpful content
- Write content in your buyer persona’s language
- Make your content easy to share
- Optimize for search engines
- Add an SSL for extra security if you’re running a shopping cart
- Must load in under 5 seconds
Earlier this year, Google announced that if your website was not mobile friendly—or in other words “responsive”, you could be penalized in search rankings. And with more than 95% of all product searches starting online and more algorithm changes on the way, it’s important to take advantage of these changes to make sure your website will remain competitive. One way most hunting and firearms websites are ensuring their survival is by adopting content marketing. By creating consistent content in the forms of blogs, videos, whitepapers and downloadable offers, companies can keep on top of the search engines and provide a “branded” user experience to their users. This is a significant trend away from which historically has been left to content publishers like Field and Stream, Guns & Ammo and others.
In this post, we looked at over 200 websites in the hunting and firearms industry and chose one from 25 categories to see how the industry is moving forward by adopting the latest web trends and technologies. Last time I checked the Webby’s (Website awards) weren’t giving any awards for brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, so we hope to change that with this post.
Use this post to gain ideas for your own website or to get inspired.
Magpul’s great products combined with stunning imagery and their unique sense of humor reflects perfectly on their brand personality.
Barnes does a great job with imagery and creating some interesting features like their load data and information page. They also feature their community members that adds to its credibility and “social proof.”
Big & J’s website uses great imagery and product callouts.
Blinds (and Tree Stands)
Muddy’s website has a lot of engaging imagery and a full-screen interface that makes for a clean user experience.
Bear Archery does a great job using “parallax” technology on their page scroll and telling the story of their products. Along with clever imagery (see hunter in the sky) this site makes it fun to scroll.
5.11’s firearm accessories website does a great job of communicating quickly their large line of apparel and accessories and helps the user get to where they want to go quickly.
No surprise here. Yeti’s website is also very clean and does a great job with text and imagery to convey their brand’s messaging. Thier “Field Notes” blog provides great recipes and how-tos on cooling game along with other interesting content.
Bigfoot Decoys website uses really great imagery and a simplified navigation menu. Check out their dealer locator.
Not only is Mountain Ops an interesting newcomer to the hunting industry, its products and branding are very persuasive as redefining hunters as “wilderness athletes.”
Packed full of information, BioLogic’s website helps users figure out what products to use and provides relevant information about their products.
Springfield Armory’s website is very clean and utilizes a good amount of whitespace. Packed with great video content, blog and reviews, the site does a great job using graphics and content to educate its users.
Knight and Hall gets honors in the game call category. They also have a great blog packed with calling tips and other great hunting information.
Wildlife Innovations combines their celebrity lineup with their line of innovations. Real faces of real people make it interesting to look at and scroll through.
On Time’s brochure-ware site is super simple in look and feel and does a great job of communicating the brands products. If you have a low budget, this is a good example of what can be done.
Although the Hoppe’s website is not responsive, it was still the standout among its competitors. This heritage brand does a great job of bringing its brand into the 21st century.
Interesting imagery and typography makes the Blackhawk! website very engaging. We also liked how they used vertical imagery to scroll the user down the page.
Kershaw’s website uses a clean and minimalistic design that showcases its products nicely.
Crimson Trace’s website uses an interesting type style along with their signature campaign imagery of peoples faces in silhouettes.
Modern Sporting Rifles
Bring the rain! Black Rain Ordinance does a great job of communicating their unique brand on their website.
Burris uses a unique minimalistic menu function that opens up the page to its great imagery and content callouts.
Badlands website uses a darker (and meaner) color palette to communicate the seriousness of their brand, combined with their sponsored hunters and shooters makes the site very engaging.
Mossy Oak leads the pattern category. With plenty of great content, interesting design and great imagery, Mossy Oak’s website is engaging and does a great job of presenting their sub-brands (upper left).
Securit leads the safe category with interesting imagery, persona-based navigation and a great library of content.
Our leading favorite only because SilencerCo. is the coolest brand out there right now, but also because its got our good buddy Jep on the home page. Their #fightthenoise campaign has been highly effective.
The winner of our review is Mossberg. With helpful content, amazing imagery, persona-based navigation and a responsive design, you can tell a lot of work went into this website.
If you’ve noticed one thing about the websites listed in this post, it’s the investment in quality photography, graphic design and copy. These three elements combined with solid programming and ease-of-use is only the first step in joining the digital age of marketing. Turn your website into a powerful sales tool by adding useful, helpful and consistent content that helps your customers solve their problems and that answers their most burning questions.
What do you think of our list? Who did we miss? What was your favorite? Please post your comments below!