Monday, January 1, 2007

Web Design’s Impact on Marketing

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Design has a tremendous impact on marketing results, it can make the difference between achieving your business goals and often surpassing them or driving your customers as far away from your objective as possible. Design is far more than simply look and feel and certainly more than an add-on service at the midpoint or end of the development phase. Design is as much scientific as it is instinctual and should never be done without a specific reason. Fundamentally design communicates in a visual way and taps into a subconscious decision making process which words alone cannot achieve.

A simple design element like the position and color of a call to action button or the amount of white space on a web page, if used as part of the design strategy, can enhance or reduce the power of your marketing.

It is no secret that perception is dependent on presentation, which contributes to the response to your marketing message or lack there of. On the web the effect of design is amplified because all any prospective consumer has to go on is your web presence. The visual look, usability and design of your site is your company or product. Your web site is the interface with your potential customer at the time of purchase, when they are considering starting or continuing a relationship with you.

Design has too much of an impact on performance to be reduced to a subjective opinion of whether someone or some committee likes it or dislikes it. Because of this impact on communication it is important to measure and test design just like any other part of your marketing mix. It is also important to note that design testing is not the same as usability testing, which is also vitally important and should not be ignored.

Design testing measures your customers’ behavior in relationship to your brand and can combined with good design can improve your site's conversion rates. Under the lens of a properly conducted design test there will be no question that design B increases some business metric by x% vrs. design C which decreases the same metric.

Measuring design and other web analytics are ultimately good for the business intention. However, there is some backlash within the industry that believes it creates too much of a focus on the short-term. The
Creative Thirst solution is to combine design testing with usability testing, along with qualitative data and observation of visitor behavior over time. This combination is the key to developing deeper insights into your customers and is the basis of the continual improvement process that will ensure greater gains to your bottom line through the design in situations where you cannot afford to guess.

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