Rich Evans – How important is design really?

VERY!… (Warning: this may come across as a rant)

One of my pet peeves is people that say that design is not important. Let me give you the heads up here. Even if you think you are not worried about design, changing a font, highlighting something in yellow, putting in a guarantee graphic are all design choices. Bad ones, but design choices all the same.

You see, design in is in everything we do, and I do mean everything.

Firstly let’s get straight about what design is. To make it simple, as far as the web is concerned there are two types of design.

  1. Functional Design
  2. Aesthetic Design

Functional design deals with all the processes and goals you are trying to achieve on our website.

Let’s take a typical badly designed long sales letter style site as an example. Even though there is very little Aesthetic design applied to some of these pages there is quite a lot of functional design. The way copy is written, the placement of ‘call to action’ graphics and buttons, the highlighting of certain pieces of text. This functional design is done to hopefully elicit response from the visitor that the site owner has set as the goal.

Usually, a sale or a lead being generated.

Functional design is all done in the planning stage. It starts with the question: What am I trying to achieve?

When you can answer that question then you can start to assemble the parts/things/bits that you need to help get you to that outcome.

For example: if it is a long sales letter site, you will need your headline, you will need the copy (written with your outcome mind) and of course your offer. Then you may decide you need a guarantee, some testimonials etc.

The next step is to decide the order of these elements and lay them out on the page.

At this stage a lot of people believe the job is done. Everything is on the page, it works, and they launch the site. They then accept that the results that they get are what is to be expected because their gurus tell them that they are achieving the correct, because they themselves are achieving the same percentages.

However… (insert rant) if that was true and the job was finished, why do we ever paint a house, a car, put on clothes, look at a painting, put a cover on a book or a picture in a magazine layout? If Aesthetic design is not important, why is it that the value of a cheaply manufactured item of clothing can be made into a item of luxury just by the label that is attached to it. The answer, design.

Aesthetic design when done with function in mind can add massive amounts of value to your website. I am not talking about self indulgent wanky design that you have to take 10 minutes just to understand. I am taking about making your site pleasing to look at.

The key to good aesthetic design is in the small details. Taking the time to master some basic skills like how to design your own buttons makes your site look that little bit more finished, that little bit more cared about.

A nicely designed site increases your chances for sales for one simple reason… half of the people that left your site previously and gave you the results you got (that were allegedly on track) left your site simply because it looked ugly.

People (everyone) can admire beauty, and whether you like it or not, we are conditioned into expecting a certain level of beauty within everything that we ever see or interact with.

The statement that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and I have been in design long enough to know that it is a very subjective artform, however my message here is this. Take the time to think about the aesthetic design and you will be doing something more than 95% of the people you are competing with.

The benefit to you will be money in the bank, as you will be touching an audience that has never before bothered stopping in.

So I challenge you with this task. If you have a website, are building a website, or are researching a website, look at your competitors and make sure that you lift the bar on the design, and see how much better you do.

Have fun,