You see the atrocities below this paragraph? A young lady named Kayla uses these as examples of why “design is not all that it is made out to be”. Her argument: these ugly, yet successful sites prove design is unimportant.
Chris Guitars is a discount guitar site. Here’s an older post from my blog that will explain why a an inexpensive company needs an inexpensive looking brand.
This “successful” blog doesn’t seem to exist anymore…
Yeah, this isn’t exactly sexy, but it isn’t horrid. Besides, check out their updated brand:
This is a decent leap forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if sales have increased.
Wikipedia is the epitome of a content heavy site. The entire concept is based on the encyclopedia, right? For a site that is driven by seemingly infinite content and links, this is excellent design.
Okay, does Kayla own a Delorean with a flux capacitor? Where in the world did she find this image of Google? Is this from 2000? This example doesn’t count.
Kayla, like many other people, thinks design is purely aesthetic—a designer just makes stuff look good. Allow me to rebuttal and explain that design is so, so, so much more than making stuff look good.
3 reasons why Kayla is wrong about design:
1. Good Design is clear communication. If the target demographic has to spend time deciphering, the designer has failed.
The documentary Helvetica features a “designer” (note sarcasm) named David Carson. By the way, Mr. Carson…your site looks like a myspace page from 2004. You might want to do something about that.
In the 80’s he worked for an experimental magazine called Ray Gun Magazine. His claim to fame was that he took an article and published it in Zapf Dingbats (or the 1980’s equivalent to the typeface), which was impossible to read.
Let me demonstrate what Zapf Dingbats is:
Obviously, an article published in Zapf Dingbats is bad design.
In my overwhelmingly humble opinion (ahem), this guy was just lucky. He’s not a designer. He was just an edgy artist in an edgy decade—the 80’s.
2. Good design is persuasive. My business partner and I had a meeting with a marketer last week. We discussed how design and marketing go hand-in-hand. The three of us completely agreed that if a pretty design doesn’t improve sales…it’s a failure.
Good design improves sales for the client. It has a call to action for the client’s target demographic. It persuades the reader to do something.
Bottom line: it persuades people to do what you want them to do. (Sounds a bit manipulative, huh? Mwahahahahaha.)
3. Good design is good SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is absolutely crucial. I’ve read many, many articles, ebooks, blogs, etc. on SEO. In a nutshell, a site with good SEO will appear on the top of a Google search.
I have a friend who is really getting in photography, let’s call him George Georgeson. I explained to him that he would be at the top of the search if someone Googled George Georgeson photography NYC. But good SEO would put him at the top of the list if someone simply Googled photographer NYC.
Keep in mind that I’m giving an overly simplified definition of SEO.
You want to be at the top of the first page on Google. It’s a very, very lucrative place to be and it’s very, very exclusive. If you’ve made it to the second page, it’s bad design. That’s like being in the front of the line at the hip club that won’t let anyone else in.