Designer vs. Marketer

Marketers are trained to focus first on results. If something works, do more of it. If it does not, try something else.

This principle applies to all activities we are involved in – ad copy, conversion funnels, sales, targeting, email, website design, etc.

In the course of their work, many marketers work directly with designers. And we assume that they see the world and approach their work the same way we do. This, of course, is wrong.

Designers, by the nature of their field and training, are not results-first thinkers. Good designers are masters of what looks good. They understand the principles of great design. Great web designers also know how users interact with their design, and know how to eliminate friction in usability.

But conflict will inevitably emerge in the designer/marketer relationship when good design is pit against good results.

What happens when something that looks bad performs better than something that looks good? In this situation, marketers will favor the stronger performer, telling the designer that the customer has spoken. The designer will try to convince the marketer that the poor design hurts the brand and that a better design will do more to improve performance in the long run.

Who is right?

The truth is, they are both right to some extent. No one should advocate for design that does not meet the minimum standards that the brand has set for look and feel of marketing assets. Likewise, no one should advocate for a design that has proven to underperform in the marketplace.

There is a middle-ground. Test multiple designs and find one that both sides can agree on.

Conflict here is a good thing. By bringing two different skill sets and perspectives together, you are likely to come out with a better final product than either one would have otherwise accomplished on their own.

Marketing Definitions: UX

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, Marketing Definitions. Each week, we will identify an oft-used term or phrase in the marketing community and break down its use and meaning for the broader population.

Last week’s term that we defined was Leads.

Today’s Term = UX

UX stands for user experience. It is an extension of, or rather an evolution from, UI (user interface).

We use the terms in the design world, to help guide the design process.

When a company is designing something – it could be a product, some internal system, a website, etc. – there must be some recognition of who the end user will be. For example, when designing the company’s website, the designer must first acknowledge that the users will be customers and potential customers.

Establishing the end user is critical, because it does you no good to design something that the user won’t get any value out of. That’s where UX comes in. UX design is the process of making your design more user-friendly.

By focusing on the user during the design process, the designer(s) should be able to make it more usable, more accessible, and more valuable.

An example of a company that puts user experience first in everything they do is Apple. Most people, when asked to describe their experience with a new Apple product, use the word “intuitive”. They pick it up and they instantly feel like they know how to use it, without any instruction. That should be the goal of any new design.

When you see the term UX, think user-experience, and know that it’s about designing something so that the end product is incredibly user-friendly (read: easy to use).

That does it for today’s definition. Have a term you’d like defined in a future post? Email us or post it in the comments below.

How to Ruin an Ad – Part 4

Welcome to the latest edition of our current weekly blog series, How to Ruin an Ad. As is most obvious from the title of this series, each week we’ll be identifying a key element of an ad that, when missing, is sure to reduce its effectiveness.

Last week’s ad was ruined by a targeting the wrong people.

Today’s ad is ruined by: Drop-out text

This may sound like old-school advice, because it is. But it’s as true today as it was 50 and 100 years ago.

Don’t use drop out text, knock out text, reverse text or whatever you want to call it. This is done when you take a color and lay it over the background, usually a base white, and then insert text over that color that is also white.

Picture a black ad with white type. While this may seem like more interesting design than white with black text, it’s a fact that it’s harder to read. And when your ad is hard to read, people don’t read it. The meaning is not conveyed effectively. And your response goes down.

This is a timeless piece of advice that holds true in print ads, direct mail pieces, banners, web design, emails, etc. David Ogilvy, considered one of the greatest advertisers of all time and the father of modern advertising, absolutely despised drop-out text. It was one of the biggest sins an advertiser could commit, and was not tolerated in his company under any conditions.

It’s important for designers and advertisers alike to understand the goal of the ad. It isn’t just a good looking ad, it is to create an advertisement that reaches the intended audience and inspires them to do something. And if they can’t read it, you’ve got no chance.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have a surefire way to ruin an ad you think we should cover in an upcoming post? Share it with us in the comments or by email.

Looks Good vs. Performs Well

The danger of designing something new is involving both designers and marketers and expecting them to agree. Most designers and marketers want different things.

Designers want to design something that looks good. Something that looks good should work better, says the mind of the designer.

Marketers want to design something what performs better. And they’ll use data and analysis to prove to themselves and to others what performs better.

And the dirty little secret is that the best design is not necessarily the best performer.

So how do you solve this problem?

You address it at the outset. The project manager, who should serve the role of mediator between the two sides on any disagreement, should lay out the goals of the project so that everyone understands them. And the decision to test multiple versions should be made. This gives designers a sense that they are designing for performance, and that performance will be measured.

At the end of the day, I am a marketer and am biased toward the marketer’s point of view. But the results of a performance test should tell you which design is best, based on which works better.

Poll: Stock Images vs. Real People

One aspect of marketing is design. We have to worry about the design of our website, landing page, direct mail pieces, advertisements, etc. And one of the big design questions that we have to answer for ourselves is whether or not to use stock photos. They’re easy. They’re cheap. But are they effective?

Whenever you are using an image in your design, this question will come up. So I want to hear from you:

Do you prefer stock photography or real photographs?

Leave your opinion in the comments below.