Tall tales. Urban myths. In this article we tackle four design myths we occasionally encounter.
- If you have space…use it
- >>> !!! *** Be catchy *** !!! <<<
- Web content and printed content are the same
- It pays to be different
Myth #1: If you have space…use it
You paid your designer to create an effective marketing piece for you and they returned a comp that is 1/2 a blank page! Why is your designer wasting costly marketing “real estate?”
This “blank” area is termed negative space, whereas an image or graphic would be considered positive space. To a designer, negative space is just another tool at his/her disposal. Often negative space can be used to emphasize composition, create visual paths, direct the focus of the viewer, and increase the dramatic effect of the overall piece.
Great design is often strikingly simple.
Myth #2: >>> !!! *** Be catchy *** !!! <<<
Some people hold the sentiment that crazy shapes, bright colors and seductive ‘starbursts’ are always helpful in attracting attention. Florescent pink anyone? The fact is, just because something catches the eye does not necessarily mean the viewer will be interested enough to open, click, or otherwise respond.
A good example of effective advertising is Apple. Their marketing campaigns are quite minimalist in appearance: black and white, vast amounts of empty space, and a subtle use of color. Their collateral is elegant and reflects an attention to detail. Apple users will attest that even opening the product box is an experience in itself. People buy into the (expensive) Mac lifestyle because its aesthetics tell you this is a quality “must have” product, not because their designers resorted to cheap, flashy design tricks.
There are a variety of ways to attract the eye of the visitor, and your industry and target audience always guide these. What is effective for a used car sale advertisement may not work for a software company website.
Myth #3: Web content and printed content are the same
In most cases, your website content should be different than the content from your printed marketing collateral. All your copy should focus on your target audience and be guided by your overall marketing strategy. However, website content is unique in several ways:
- Keep it concise: website visitors have, shall we say, very short attention spans! If your visitor gets the impression that finding the content she desires will be like finding a needle in a haystack, you can be sure she will leave and likely not return.
- Click here for more info: while brevity is essential, you also want your site to be an effective online resource about your services/products. Towards that end, you can allow visitors who want to know more to dig deeper. If you have 5 reasons your product is superior to your competitor’s product, provide them in synopsis form on your products page. Each reason can conclude with “click here for more info” which guides the interested visitor to a more in-depth discussion of the topic.
- Internal Linking: one of the benefits of the web is internal, contextual linking. By using hyperlinks, you can direct users in one section of your website to another relevant section with a simple click. Make the attempt to have at least a half dozen links in the content of every page that allow the visitor to move with ease throughout your site.
Myth #4: It always pays to be different
In business, we are always looking to distinguish ourselves from our competition. Companies can do this by emphasizing a unique philosophy, an improved formula, and better customer service.
Distinctive is also good when it comes to web design. It is important that your website is distinctive, from the look and feel of the site to the marketing message it carries. We accomplish this by having you fill out a web design questionnaire that (among other things) asks how you distinguish yourselves from the competition. Our design can then highlight your unique approach and benefit to your clients.
However, occasionally clients want to take this to an extreme, and end up with marketing collateral that is completely dissimilar from others in their industry. The famous Sesame Street song said, “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” So while it is beneficial at times to buck the system, it is always a good idea to make sure your collateral is in line with the marketing best practices of your industry.