This one will probably get me into trouble.
I’ve worked as a graphic designer for over two decades and I’m not supposed to say this stuff. After all, it’s my job to make miracles. To wave my magic design wand and make a business look stronger, smarter, and more powerful than it really is.
Before I start dodging rotten tomatoes, though, I’m going to go ahead and say it out loud.
It’s a smart business move to have a well-designed website.
But good design — even great design — won’t solve all your business problems. Not even close.
Design is not a magic pill
If you don’t have a basic marketing plan in place, design can’t cover that up.
The first question I ask people when we talk about a new project is, “Who are you trying to reach?” It’s shocking how many businesses have put hours of thought into their design without ever considering the most basic of all marketing questions: “Who am I selling to?”
If you’re not clear on who you want to appeal to, the most gorgeous website design in the world won’t help you make sales.
Figure out who you want to reach first, and focus on design after you’ve made that decision. You’ll find your design works a lot better when every color choice and pretty picture is especially made to appeal to the people you want to draw to your business.
Design is not your message
Before you add design into your marketing mix, you have to know what you want to say.
This should be easy for you. After all, you’re reading Copyblogger to learn more about the vital elements of quality content. That’s why it’s strange that there are people out there who think they can rely on their design alone to communicate their message.
Think about it this way: you have a beautiful website. It may stop people in their tracks long enough to want to learn more. That’s great, but if they read on only to discover that you have unfocused or boring content, you will lose them.
Good design may get customers in your door, but great content keeps them from walking right back out again.
When you implement both good design and solid, valuable content, you’ll double the power of either of these elements alone. Don’t rely on design alone to communicate your message.
Design is not about you
Don’t make design decisions based on personal likes or dislikes. Make them based on what appeals to your target market, and the colors and forms that will best communicate your message.
If your target market thinks yellow is an appealing, fresh, happy color that endears them to your services, then it doesn’t matter that yellow is your least favorite color.
When you let your site or materials reflect only your personal tastes, you’re risking your design not resonating at all with the people you want to bring to your business.
Check your ego at the door and think about who you want to sell to.
What are their problems? What colors, shapes and content will appeal to them?
Let those answers inform your decisions far more than what you personally like to look at.
Design won’t work miracles
Don’t expect miracles from your graphic design. It’s definitely a valuable part of creating your business’s image, but it’s not a substitute for a sound marketing strategy.
A great design is a wonderful package for what you have to offer. And packages matter — a lot. But there always has to be something good inside the package.
Do your homework first and start thinking about your design only once you are clear about who you want to reach and what you want to say. This information should influence every design decision you make.
And by considering those two elements first, it’s practically guaranteed that the pretty colors, typefaces, and pictures you choose will reach out and touch the market you’re aiming for.
About the author: Want to know more? Pamela Wilson helps people grow their business with great design and a great message. Check out her free Design 101 e-course at her site, Big Brand System.