A good design is nothing without purpose – without intent. Good design pairs form with function and is backed by tangible, measurable goals.
As a creative firm, we undoubtedly get plenty of folks who contact us looking for “better” design. As a branding company, we do our best to set up clients with something that looks better – but most importantly – works better. This process involves educating clients as to what “better” really means.
Better isn’t just great photos and bold type. It isn’t just infographics and flashy colors. It very well can include any and all of these things, but “better” is best defined by how the design inspires users, visitors, readers, customers, and supporters to take action.
How do you define good design?
Drew Thomas, CCO and founder of the digital agency Brolik, and contributing author for A List Apart, recently had this to say on equipping and educating clients on the importance of a design’s purpose.
“What our clients do with their websites is just as important as the websites themselves. We may pride ourselves on building a great product, but it’s ultimately up to the client to see it succeed or fail. Even the best website can become neglected, underused, or messy without a little education and training.”
To us, handing a client well-designed final product is useless if they don’t understand the “why” and aren’t well-equipped to put that sexy final product to good use with strong messaging and clear calls to action.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of websites that are effectively pairing compelling design with a clearly defined purpose:
Charity Water (Get Me to Do Something)
Charity Water has nailed it with their design, and is always an example shared during client discussions, especially in the nonprofit sector that overwhelmingly overlooks the importance of branding, design, and marketing – they keep it simple and actionable from the first frame. Their primary call to action (start a campaign) is timely (focused on September), bold (matching up to $1,000,000), and clear (the “start a campaign” button is front and center). Their message is supported with sharp, crisp imagery that completes a compelling, engaging experience.
Takeaway: What is the FIRST thing you want people to do on your website? Do you have one primary action that is clear to your users?
Level Money (Drop the Mic)
Level is a simple budgeting application that makes it ridiculously simple to manage your financials. I share this example because of their leading statement/brand promise. “Never worry about budgeting again”. This may seem ridiculously simple, but those few words declare both the what and why – and show a clear understanding of customers’ needs and psyches. Budgeting stinks. No one wants to worry about it. With Level, you don’t have to. Drop the mic.
Takeaway: What “brand promise” and/or guarantee are you making? Are you clear in articulating this via your website and supportive collateral?
Asbury Seminary (Don’t Make me Read)
Asbury is a project we recently launched here at Proof. The item to note here is the visual representation of school data (“quick facts”). Our web developers focus with Asbury was to present key information about the school to visitors at a quick glance. Doing so allows “skimmers” to get a clear perspective on important school information, without bogging them down in text-heavy details. This “show” instead of “tell” philosophy is nothing new, but often overlooked.
Takeaway: What information can you present to your audience in a more visual way? Take a look at one page on your website and try cutting the written copy in half. In doing so, extract the most important information and present it with graphics and supporting visuals.
Good design pairs form with function. Good design understands that substance must be supported with style and that style is very weak without substance. Good design looks good and works well.
How is your design working for you?