Initial coin offering (ICO) databases illustrate how branding, marketing, and the UX of digital interaction can play a significant role in the success of an ICO website. Actively raising a blockchain project requires as much strategic planning as it does technical expertise.
In this article, the Jakt team weighs in on the elements necessary for designing and developing a promotional website that conveys project intent, builds trust, and demonstrates value.
For clarity, we will refer to the act of raising funds to develop a blockchain project via crowdsourcing in this article under the umbrella classification as ICO or Security Token Offering (STO). These terms are also applicable to crowd-sourcing development funds for Initial Supply Auctions (ISA) and Simple Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFT).
The marketing website, coupled with a marketing and branding strategy drive discovery and reputation.
Below, we describe what separates the good blockchain fundraising websites from the great.
1. Clear Value Propositions
With over 450 ICOs published in August 2018, it is becoming challenging for good blockchain projects to raise the awareness they need to secure funding for blockchain design and development.
Common stances, similar whitepapers, and ICO websites with a cookie cutter feel can lead to:
- Increased bounce rates
- Low publicity
- Low engagement with potential investors, advisors, and users.
Users only spend 10-20 seconds browsing websites without clearly defined value propositions for their target audiences. It’s important to direct them towards meaningful content in that short timeframe.
How do you stand out in an increasingly saturated ICO marketplace?
- Highlight high-level benefits that your ICO provides
- Provide a high-quality digital design (UI/UX)
- Draw attention to differentiators
Best practices in digital UX demonstrate a trend where well-performing websites are ditching long paragraphs in favor of scrollable designs. Investors, users, and anyone else visiting your site want content that’s easily digestible.
An ICO website must have a clean interface and critical path navigation. User engagement increases when there’s an option to view in-depth resources in addition to the high-level overview.
In summary, an ICO website should:
- Adhere to best design practices
- Convey the value of the ICO
- Seek inspiration from top-raising ICOs and STOs
Humanizing Your Brand
Value doesn’t just come from a product offering. The team behind your ICO is also a strong value indicator.
In today’s automated world, showcasing the human-aspect that underlies an ICO builds trust and credibility. This effect is compounded if the founding team can instill reputation-based confidence in the blockchain community.
Great ICO websites include the following:
- Active Team Members
People gravitate towards approachable brands. The unique experience of each ICO team member frames the people behind the products as important assets. Highlighting the skillsets of your team builds an ICO’s product potential to increase onset investor attention.
You lose out on potential investors and users the moment a viewer becomes confused or loses interest. The discovery and rising phases are most important to an ICO’s health but require undivided investor attention.
To create a more “human” UX while in the discovery and raising phase, ICO homepages must:
- Avoid overly technical or complex language
- Explain complicated concepts with visuals
- Layer extensive technical data within the navigation
Luckily, the web is full of resources that can help you water down the content of your ICO website without dumbing it down. Technical partners experienced with web development, digital design principles, and blockchain fundamentals can be a vital resource.
Digital product and innovation studios have the technical knowledge to understand your product and how it matches up to competitors. They can also produce compelling ICO/STO digital support materials.
First impressions matter, especially with new blockchain projects raising capital.
ICO Advisory Firm Statis Group published a research study that classified more than three-quarters of initial coin offerings as scams. 70% of funds raised went towards high-quality, well-known blockchain projects.
The first step in providing legitimacy to your ICO project is to develop a detailed white paper that highlights the ICO goals — and how those goals will be achieved. Start by framing an expertly developed white paper that shows how the ICO:
- Highlights project requirements
- Supports a token economy
- Provide supplementary project details for all audiences.
In order to stand out from the crowd of potential ICO scams, the white paper should be easily accessible from the website.
Elements of an ICO white paper
While the formatting of an ICO white paper is entirely up to its creators, there’s a particular format that investors want to see.
Your ICO white paper must include:
- ICO mission, vision, and opportunities
- What problems the ICO solves
- Technical and Token information
- Project risks
- Team members behind the project
While some experts are touting the death of the ICO, the Jakt emergent tech strategist Cindy Mallory is inclined to believe otherwise. White papers answer questions before investors can ask them, and omitting a white paper increases the chance of investors passing over your ICO.
Stronger regulations and classifications of utility coins will decrease how many projects will be funded as ICO campaigns.
Higher quality blockchain projects touting security structures will usher in the second wave of blockchain crowd raising through Secure Token Offerings.
3. ICO Roadmap
A commonality of all ICO websites are roadmaps -visual timelines- of an ICO’s progress. A roadmap details all stages of an ICO, from development to execution.
Successful roadmaps clearly show what stage an ICO is at, such as pre-ICO, along with details about each stage.
To create a successful roadmap, you need to fully understand the landscape of the ICO project.
The ICO website should include:
- Industry pain points
- Growth rate
- Current token economy
- Legal regulations
Creating and targeting a roadmap is a best business practice that raises the credibility of an ICO. Investors want to know if the ICO launch preparations are valid, when the project is projected to launch, and most importantly, when they will see payoff.
Roadmaps are a must-have for any ICO website because they help target investors. Despite this, we were surprised to find how often projects don’t include roadmaps or any other business plan.
ICO market research shows that only half of ICO projects were able to collect more than 100k. We’re willing to bet that those ICO websites without a roadmap would have had more success raising funds.
Investors directly contribute to the success of an ICO, and most investors want to see a plan.
- Define a roadmap
- Deliver key information at each stage
- Present the roadmap in a visually appealing way
Angel/Seed – The start of the ICO roadmap. This is where an ICO funds its business model, rounds out its founding team, and forms partnerships. The project can be a ways away from its completion goal, but it must support itself using educational resources and use cases.
The ICO website should highlight the project’s goals and practical ways on how it will overcome risks.
Pre-Sale ICO – The pre-sale phase can be found anywhere on a blockchain project roadmap depending on how detailed the plan is.
In this stage, it’s important to detail:
- Project phases
- Projected market cap growth
- ROI plans
The pre-sale phase is an opportunity to present deals and rewards to investors to increase project accessibility. Psychology also comes into play during pre-sale. Many projects attract investor attention through the use fear of missing out (FOMO) tactics.
Pre-sales are crucial to the health of the entire ICO, with market cap being your main KPI to track. Market cap is determined by calculating:
- Coins in circulation
- Coins phased to be released
- Price projections for coins.
Understanding supply and demand economics, the benefits and risks of airdrops, and determining the best pre-sale ROI structure all factor in.
ICO – The final stretch of the fundraising roadmap. An ICO project raises money through crowdinvesting or crowdsale methods, which are different from traditional funding.
Token valuation is huge at this stage. To determine if they want to back the blockchain project, investors heavily rely on:
- ICO market cap
- Social traction
- Expert backing
- Pre-sale fundraising reporting
- Rate of sale of offered coins.
It is important to note that market cap doesn’t account for who holds the tokens. Token valuation is impacted by exchanges for fiat -or other cryptocurrencies- once the project is live. High market caps may not translate into ROI if token value dips below projected growth.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency investor Ryan Charleston notes the importance of accurate token valuation, “Be sure to consider all factors that may affect the price of a particular token and it’s long-term potential.”
Full transparency is crucial at this stage, and an ICO website should reflect every opportunity, risk, and roadblock.
4. Resource Center
Blockchain marketing websites need to be accessible. A resource center is a great way to open the project up to all audiences and build credibility. Resource centers contain everything from high-level information and FAQ docs to in-depth token information.
An ICO website with different tiers of information complexity can be used to engage with different website audiences.
Consider the following users that will visit your ICO website:
- Investors interested in the project’s current investment history.
- Advisors interested in the platform’s use cases.
- Users looking for token spend information.
- Press seeking interesting and informative visual content.
- Investors looking for community involvement.
Top-quality ICO websites are becoming increasingly important for fundraising efforts. As new blockchain projects offering new tokens saturate the market, investors understandably gauge all aspects of an ICO website. This includes the quality of support materials.
The ICO website homepage should:
- Avoid clutter
- Structure and content
- Update content as the project progresses
Keeping quality content housed in one location reassures investors that your ICO can make that final push to the end.
5. ICO Website Community
Never underestimate the influential power of community support. A marketing website is a powerful tool for social growth through the use of strategic calls-to-action.
Consider how the following could promote your ICO website:
- Participation at in-person or live streamed team events
- Creating a newsletter
- Encouraging social media sharing
Community building creates a steady following of loyal users, which equate to more than bragging rights.
An increase in users translates into a higher market cap by:
- Increasing the demand for your token
- Facilitating discovery of new potential investors
- An increase in organic traffic through social shares
Community involvement comes in many shapes and sizes. Active, honest communication on the state of fundraising and development is important for reputation, product quality, and success.
Medium, Github, and Discord are additional outlets that blockchain projects funded by crowdsourcing depend on. These can be used for ICO updates, resource sharing, and peer-to-peer community engagement.
Community involvement promises both short and long-term benefits. By nature, crowdfunding requires, well, a crowd. Reaching out to the community is a great way to secure several smaller bouts of funding for an ICO project.
Interacting with an ICO community enables the team to:
- Answer and address any concerns that your users have
- Poll ideas
- Identify disconnects between investor and developer teams
A strong community definitely benefits an ICO website, but there’s work that your team must put in to maximize impact. Creating a content strategy and targeting where that content will go will raise attention to the ICO and build credibility.
Organic traffic through content creation, thought leadership, resources, and newsletter signups
Press promotion by reaching out to local outlets
Social presence through self and community promotions
Developing a plan for each of these will lead to an increase in traffic over time. With the right strategy, your ICO won’t just gain more attention, it will attract investors, advisors, and decision makers.
Successful ICO Websites
Showing is just as important as telling. We rounded up a list of successful ICO websites so you can see these tips in action.
Our takeaways on what makes ICO websites stand out:
- Clear progress roadmaps with clear goals and timelines.
- Project depth and its probability of success.
- A user journey that combines a smooth UI with layers of technical information.
The above qualities enable interested parties of differing technical, financial, or blockchain experience to have an optimal user journey that leads to investment.
A highly skilled blockchain development team may not be equipped (or have the time) to build a beautiful web experience to promote the value of their project. Content creation is an entire process of its own, and graphic elements require several rounds of testing.
Finding the right branding, marketing, and web development partner with skilled designers and blockchain experience is a necessary investment in itself. An agency can fulfill these needs to maximize the success of an ICO project.
To wrap up this guide, we would like to give recognition to impactful, well-designed websites for blockchain projects.
We love how Stratis lays out information. Important ICO details are front-and-center and additional subpages give finer details of the project. Blockchain is complex, and Stratis does a great job of walking users through the technology and how it applies to its project.
Of course, we have to mention Ethereum on our list of successful ICO websites. There are clear explanations of what you can do with Ethereum, and how you can do them. CTAs are king here.
The simplicity of EOSIO’s website is refreshing. The ICO website is readable and very easy to navigate. We love how its value propositions are interwoven throughout the site and target specific audiences.
AppCoin boasts a polished website and customized graphic elements that encourage you to keep reading about the project. We love the use of graphs to visualize the token’s value and use statistics.
Elastos does a fantastic job of showing what an accessible ICO website should look like. Its Github and white paper are immediately viewable, news updates are front-facing, and different aspects of the platform are broken out into clear sections.
We think NXT did a great job on its use case section. Its homepage gives value propositions for each use case and gives users the option to view additional detailed information from each one. That’s information structure done right.
We like how Truegame’s website look-and-feel changes based on its audience. The homepage page is user-focused, showcasing fun colors and the platform’s prize pools. The other half of the website is informative, toned-down, and uses language that’s investor-focused.
Cappacity’s website stands out to us because of the sheer amount of content the ICO produces. Written articles, professional videos, and even rotatable live products give users a clear vision of the project. Everything from its product offerings to its team information is crystal clear.
The potential of a great blockchain website is enormous. If you are looking to build a website to raise awareness, encourage investment, or educate on blockchain, partnering with an innovation studio that has years of experience in design that encourages growth and retention could provide the tipping point for success.
Reach out to our team of blockchain design experts if you’re interested in building and branding an ICO website that investors will love.