We all know that making changes for the holidays should entail a little more effort than a snowflake animation or a “Season’s Greetings!” on the homepage or your social media profile photos. But even the most sophisticated alterations are just the first of many additions you can make to enhance your site’s content and branding.
That’s not to say that a simple touch of holiday décor isn’t a great idea for a smaller business. What you choose to do for your site should depend on the amount of resources you have to make it happen. There are plenty of ways to adapt the strategies outlined below to fit your resources and goals.
Also, keep in mind that prepping for the season involves practical as well as creative considerations. Take a look at Amazon’s Ecommerce Holiday Guide if you’re in need of advice on how to drive traffic and increase conversions from a marketing perspective.
Lower-Impact: Focus on Imagery
The quickest way to adapt a web design for the holidays is to focus on your imagery. Whether you choose to make a minor change like swapping the graphics on your homepage, or embark on the larger endeavor with a new microsite, seasonal visuals are the first step to creating that festive atmosphere, and can be adapted to work with almost any type of visual style.
A lot of stock photography blogs offer free images each week for those looking for a jumping off point.
Change Color Schemes and Graphics
One of the simplest ways to embrace a seasonal change is to make alterations to the look of your homepage. For a simple color-blocked website, this might mean changing out the primary colors for a green, red, and gold scheme. Or for a clothing retailer, this could be as simple as swapping out the regular photography for a cozy image displaying winter wear.
This approach isn’t the answer for any type of site; designs that rely on a specific color scheme or consistent imagery might disrupt branding too much by incorporating these large-scale changes. But for more flexible designs, Stash Tea, there’s plenty of room to make a seasonal statement. By swapping out their usual photography and warm, neutral tones for a typographic statement and higher-contrast color choices, the design is eye-catching while still maintaining enough consistency with the brand.
Create a Dedicated Landing Page
If you don’t want to disrupt your main site, a holiday microsite is a great chance to do something creative while still maintaining your branding. With a design like Diesel’s “Magic of Christmas” landing page, you get more artistic freedom than merely altering your homepage, and it also gives you the chance to explore interesting new navigation techniques and visual effects that can’t be tinkered with on the main site.
Higher-Impact: Focus on Content
An even more effective strategy (with a correspondingly higher time and resource commitment) is to center your holiday alterations around an editorial piece or project. This approach gives you a chance to appeal to customers with more than just thematic decorations, while still incorporating those aesthetic explorations that will help to make your campaign successful.
Curate a Gift Guide
One of the most popular ways to prep for the holidays is to make a good gift guide; it’s a win-win that gives designers an opportunity to add a lot of personality and interest to the design while also promoting purchases. Your guide could be as simple as a styled list of links, or it could be complex enough to include interesting categories and custom illustrations. As you can see from Modcloth’s example, this approach can make for a fun and interesting result.
Send a Newsletter
The holidays are also a great time to send out a special newsletter with interesting content. Pottery Barn provides an inspiring example with its 12 Days Before Christmas checklist; it’s fun, simple, and attractive content that can be hosted on your site as well as sent out to subscribers.
Create a Holiday Destination
You can also find great success by going beyond a traditional marketing approach. Some companies choose to create supplementary content that isn’t directly related to their products or sales goals, but is still an invaluable branding tool. This approach can be interpreted in many ways, and should be adapted to fit with your own goals. Macy’s provides a great example with their “Believe” campaign, by not only making it interactive and fun for their site users, but also by supporting a charity. Their campaign lets people write letters to Santa on their site; for every letter written, the company donates a dollar to the Make a Wish foundation.
Operations like this are quite a big undertaking, but there are also many less intense projects for companies to consider. Balsam Hill’s “History of the Christmas Tradition” infographic is a comparatively small endeavor, but it still contributes a lot to the branding of the company.
In conclusion, any thoughtful incorporation of holiday elements is sure to be positively impactful to your site’s design. But the very best adaptations seem to be found in those campaigns, microsites, and features that engage users with the content as well as the visuals. It’s this sense of thoughtfulness and care that makes people eager to interact with your site and your company, and nothing helps to provide this better than a great combination of interesting content and great design.