There seems to be a big misconception that site design is simply about beautifying a web page. A designer’s job is to take a page of text and pretty it up by scattering a couple of pictures here and there, maybe choosing a sexy font, adding some links, and BOOM! Successful website. Watch the steady stream of opt-ins and millions in revenue just pile up.
Though I sometimes wish the job was that easy, that’s never the case. In fact, design is such an underrated skill set and rarely gets the recognition it deserves.
Design, and web design in particular, isn’t simply about aesthetics and artistry, though that certainly plays a big part. A good designer draws upon theories and practices of marketing, psychology, sociology, copywriting, and human communication. It’s a whole bunch of science rolled into a pretty package… pretty impressive once you dissect design down to its most raw form.
As an entrepreneur, small business owner, or salesman, none of this really matters to you. What you want to know most is, “How does good design affect my bottom line?”
The job of a designer is to communicate your message to your prospective clients and viewers. So if your message is to buy a product, we have to fine-tune your site’s elements so each one subtly speaks to the viewer, each whisper being a reason why he or she should buy. That’s where the science of this trade comes into play.
We then couple that science with gorgeous, purpose-driven aesthetics. Because designers are more artist than scientist, we care about visual relationships and want to convey your message as straight-forward and beautifully as possible.
A well-planned design is important for a few reasons, and here are three:
People Are Attracted To Eye Candy
Just like the shiny red Ferrari in the parking lot that makes you do a double take, or the 5-carat cushion cut diamond ring your girlfriend drools over at Tiffany, people are attracted to beautiful things. It’s human nature.
An attractive design entices those landing on your site to stay and poke around awhile. It encourages them to delve deeper and see what you have to offer. It’s like the pretty senior cheerleader all the boys want to get to know a little better.
Now, imagine if you will, being a nerdy 12th grade US history buff, and Miss Senior Cheerleader showing up to class asking thought-provoking questions regarding The Puritan Dilemma, voicing her opinion of English settler John Winthrop’s motivations for settling in the New World and the opposition and difficulty he and his fellow settlers faced upon arrival.
Holy sh*t. What? Gorgeous AND brilliant?
This leads us to number two.
Viewers Stick Around Because Of Compelling Content
How much more attractive is a knowledgeable, well-informed cheerleader than one who may be pretty, but is dumb as a stump?
Aesthetics may draw your audience in, but insightful and compelling content will keep them around. The type of content will vary depending on your niche and your market, but this could include great stories, convincing testimonials, documented results of success, or bullet points stating how your product could help them solve a pain or issue in their lives.
Content is the meat of your site, the hard facts and juicy details that leave your audience wanting more, until they’re so taken aback, they can’t help but purchase your product.
Users Can Find Their Way Around With Ease, And All Paths Lead To A Sale
Let’s stick with the cheerleader analogy since we’re on a roll. Imagine you, Mr. US History Buff, are a new student and still learning your way around campus. During passing period, you’re slowly wandering the halls trying to determine the location of your calculus class, when out of nowhere Miss Cheerleader approaches you and notices your puzzled looks. She offers you direction and even walks with you to your next class (which happens to be just a few doors down). Once you arrive, she bids you farewell and hopes you have a wonderful afternoon.
Beautiful, intelligent, and helpful. Admit it, you’re totally head over heels for this girl, aren’t you?
A site designer’s job is to help users navigate through a site. Because we can’t control your mouse ourselves, we must design in a way that almost predicts where you’re going to look, scroll, and click. We orchestrate elements on web pages to draw attention, to call out an action we want you to take, or to leave hints in your mind that create urgency or scarcity.
Remember what I mentioned earlier, how a big part of what we do is tied to psychology and human communication? Designers have to know what you’re expecting and where your attention will be even before you visit the website.
This doesn’t just apply to sales, either. Churches may want to inform their community of new programs available for their youngest parishioners. A gardening website may want to highlight a new series of spring planting tutorials available for fellow enthusiasts. Chefs may look to display their newest recipes front and center to their audience of hardcore foodies. The list is endless.
Anyone with a copy of Photoshop and a bit of HTML knowledge can call himself a designer. Once you understand these three principles, however, you’ll see that good design is more than aesthetics. You often get what you pay for, and this is especially true when it comes to crafting your brand’s online hub.
If you’re serious about increasing conversions and you understand the impact a well-designed, highly-focused site can have on your effectiveness in the online space, you will take the time to find someone knowledgeable that can properly put forth your message.
Let Me Turn It Over To You Now
What are your thoughts on site or blog design? Is there a designer in your team? How is design affecting your bottom line today? Or are you not aware of the impact you have on new visitors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
This is a guest post by Barron Cuadro – Barron blogs at BarronCuadro.com about Purpose-driven design, adventures in entrepreneurship, and attempts at living a more deliberate life. You can also find him hanging out on Twitter and Facebook.