I’m writing today about an NFL football player — a profile for an online magazine. NFL players have a lot of little awards and honors and stats: being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, being chosen for a Pro Bowl, having so many sacks or what have you. It’s a matter of sorting through and picking out the ones that will best support the claims I plan to make about this guy.
Your field probably includes some little awards and honors and things. Maybe not as big as being on the cover of a magazine, and maybe not as many as the average NFL player has, but there are bound to be some. Maybe you’re a certified partner of a major company or a member of the Chamber of Commerce or something. We’ve been nominated for Best Business Blog, listed as one of the best copywriting blogs, invited to join Google Pangaeans and Amazon Vine, featured in the Google Doodle, and an assortment of other stuff like that. Again, it’s not the Pro Bowl, but most good companies have some stuff they can offer as proof that they’re good at what they do.
The question is: how do you put this on your website for best results?
I was featured in The Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago; I think I’ve mentioned it occasionally in blog posts, but if it had happened to a client of mine, I’d have made sure to get the most juice out of it for their company. For my own company, I’m troubled by modesty. The ball player I’m writing about doesn’t have this problem. His website features a sort of rock star photo with ethereal backlighting augmented by Flash effects that cause him to glow in a pulsating manner that’s hard to describe — but definitely not modest.
So we’ve recently been listed in Alltop, an aggregator site that gathers “all the top stories” (get it?) on the topic of your choice for a filtered page of the best stuff on your particular subject. We’re on the SEO page. Inclusion in Alltop puts us in the company of Smashing Magazine, Seth Godin, Lifehacker, and other sites we really admire. We’re overcoming our modesty enough to put the badge they gave us on our website.
But there’s a choice of badges, so we have to decide what effect we want to create. We can go with self-deprecating humor:
We can choose boldness:
We can be modest yet recognize that it’s an honor:
We can choose a neutral message in a great big size, implying that we’re modest while visually demonstrating that we’re not:
Or choose a visually smaller badge with a fairly boastful message, hoping that the smaller size and humorous catch phrase nature of the boast mitigates the bragging:
Each of these options sends a different message. When you choose among a banner or a badge or a callout or a listing on your About Us page, you are again choosing among possible messages. If you decide to send out a press release and post that on your website under a Press tab, you’re making a different impression from the one you make if you choose to blog about it or to mention it in passing.
How can you decide?
First, consider the overall nature of your business and the tone of your site. Are you a bank with a very neutral corporate site? Then you shouldn’t announce that you kick a**. Frankly, people who write “kick a**” probably shouldn’t go with that choice, either, though it’s not inappropriate for a creative company (that’s what’s on our website at this moment, thanks to Josepha, who probably says that when Rosie and I aren’t around to depress her exuberance, but it may not be there by the time you read this). A neutral corporate site should choose a neutral announcement. A more lighthearted tone on your site overall lets you use humor.
Second, consider the design of your site. I probably shouldn’t mention this with our site as an example, either, since we haven’t yet taken the time to tidy up our badges visually. Maybe that will change before you read this, too. But in the spirit of “Do as I say, not as I do,” I’m still going to suggest that you consider the design of your site when you make your choice. If we went with the largest badge option and added it to our sidebar, it would become the most important thing on the page.
Our site for Bill West Roofing lines up all the certified partner and select vendor things as badges in a sidebar.
For rock band Trout Fishing in America, though, we used the phrase “four time Grammy nominees” and laudatory quotes from reviews by major media sources as the text in their banners. Rocky Grove Sun Company’s certification is in a callout at the bottom of the page.
The point is that you can reference your certifications, honors, awards, and whatnot in a wide variety of ways, when it comes to design. There’s no reason to spoil your design for the sake of fitting in your badge.
Third, think about your audience. Our house painter client lists a whole page of stuff, almost like a resume. A tradesman’s customers are very concerned about qualifications, since they let these people come into their homes and mess around with the place where they live. This client has an impressive roster of certifications, awards, and honors, and the sheer quantity of listings will prove reassuring to their audience. Do my prospective clients care about my HTML certification and “Expert Author” status at article sites? I don’t think so. Just as with the football player I’m writing about, the goal is to choose the things that will best support your claims.
Want an Alltop badge? Unlike most of the honors and awards we’ve received, this is one you can apply for. Go on over to Alltop and add your voice to the mix. Or just make a news page for yourself and enjoy the efficiency of getting all the top stories in one place.