Form might follow function, but in the Digital Age, design has become a crucial cornerstone of everything we do, and everything we interact with.
As September draws to a close, London celebrates an impressive 20 years of the London Design Festival, covering everything from cityscapes to sculptures, and you guessed it, commercial endeavours.
In our increasingly visually driven society, touched on all sides by digital platforms, design has become an integral part of everything we do, whether the average user is conscious of it or not. This is especially true for those working in the world of marketing, and here’s why.
Good design differentiates
A pretty website is more than just that. It separates a business from its competition, setting it apart in the mind of potential and returning customers (good aesthetics is a part of attracting customers back time and time again).
Not only that, but a well-designed, good looking website adds credibility to a business or brand, featuring heavily in a potential customer's decision to use the services on offer (or not). According to research conducted by Google, it takes between just 17 and 50 milliseconds for someone to make a judgement about your website. If your website’s design is sub-par, it’s likely closer to the 17-millisecond mark.
Good design puts the user first
Traditionally, “design” (as in cars, houses, cities etc.) existed to solve challenges or problems. A well-designed car gets you to where you need to go, fuel efficiently and reliably. A well-designed house is warm, safe, and practical.
When it comes to websites, a well-designed site is considerate. The art of user experience (UX) has been a growing requirement for those working on websites and inside digital marketing for some time. That’s because good design is intuitive (consider how naturally a child knows how to use a smartphone or tablet). Intuitive design isn’t just good looking, it’s also easy to use, inviting users (i.e., customers) to come back for a good experience time and time again.
This kind of user experience also reinforces a business’s SEO and CRO efforts. If SEO drives users to a misleading site, bounce rate will be high, and conversions low. As one of Somebody Digital’s designers, Roberto Gallotta notes, “It can confuse your audience if you are not strategic with your design choices, which can lead to customers not trusting you and your product. Because design is customer-facing, in this day and age if your design is weak, it can reflect negatively on your product.”
But if the design is just what a user expected when landing on your site, the likelihood of them hanging around (thus increasing chances of conversion) is also much higher.
Good design is intentional
Good design doesn’t happen by accident. Picasso didn’t work on masterpieces by mistake. The same is true for good digital designs. From LinkedIn ads to landing pages and emailers, every individual feature, every placement of each letter and picture, is intentional if done by a good designer.
As Cecilia Chau, another of our leading designers says, “Digital marketing is just like a visual merchandiser designing a shop window display, but instead it is on the user’s monitor. Eye-catching visuals are the key to grabbing attention, then drawing in leads and revenue. Besides designing beautiful visuals, we also research user behaviour and client’s competitors, to stand out from the crowd.”
This is because design (especially digital design) is a language all on its own. Visual storytelling communicates its own message and its own intention to potential customers. Which is why the next point is so important, because…
Good design becomes your brand identity
Too many start-ups realise too late the true cost of not investing in brand identity from the get-go, when a rebrand becomes far more expensive, at the cost of losing customers.
You’d recognise McDonalds, Apple, and Coca-Cola wherever you are in the world because of their signature looks (respectively). One study by Siegel+Gale indicates that a memorable logo (the heart of any brand identity) is 13% more likely to get a consumer’s attention, 7% more likely to make a consumer want to learn more, and 6% more likely to indicate a company’s uniqueness.
Finally, all this to simply say that good design is good for business. Perhaps it’s time to flip that old adage around, maybe function should follow form, and everything we do should be built around intuitive, beautiful design that supports our digital marketing goals.