The good news: most businesses know a good design when they see it. Just don’t tell your designers you want to look “global!”
For many businesses, it is difficult, if not impossible, to measure the success of web design projects.
I’m talking about the pure front-end design part – not the site’s content or functionality – sometimes called “the design,” “the branding,” or “the wrapping.” In other words, “how the website looks.”
Here are the main issues:
1. Difficult to measure perceptions about design accurately.
It can be expensive to measure how a market feels about design. You have to run studies, focus groups … you get the idea. This takes time and money that only the largest brands will commit to.
2. Hard to define goals or success metric.
Do you want your site to look more: inviting, impressive, powerful, authoritative, global* (“global” always gets a laugh from our design team – you don’t mean a dot-com style spinning globe image on your homepage, do you)? How do you measure a feeling of “global-ness” anyhow?
Or are your goals more easily measurable: generate more quality leads, more traffic? In that case, how do you separate design from content and functionality?
Most of the time, in the real world, a redesign accompanies a larger online marketing initiative – website design, improved content, enhanced functionality and more aggressive online marketing activities. Again, this is why it is so hard to measure the design’s effects.
So, most businesses simply follow their instincts and try to look appropriate for their market. They go through a design process that typically involves a few key team members giving their input. Businesses that are adventuresome get more adventuresome designs, and more conservative teams get more conservative designs.
And you know, what? This is just fine. Because, no matter what fancy-shmancy consultants may say, most managers understand their businesses and markets pretty well. If their web design stinks, they know it. And if it’s working well, they know that, too.
Ultimately, your site’s design should be a useful template or frame that enhances your site’s content and features, and should be practical and flexible so it’s easy to build online marketing campaigns. Of course it should look great, but beautiful design is just a part (an important part, certainly) of what it takes to make your site a powerful online marketing tool.
So, when it comes to design, go ahead and trust your guts. Just don’t tell us you want to look “global!”
*An aside: This is something you can’t fake. A business achieves “global-ness” by actually being global and presenting the right content to prove it – international offices, localized websites, stories about global businesses and issues, and products or services that meet the demands of a global marketplace. Not through a spinning globe.
However, a great design can make your business look impressive, established, authoritative and trustworthy.