Good marketing design
is a complex set of principles derived from years of testing to
find out what people actually pay attention to when confronted
with advertising and marketing materials.
The testing included
everything from how we read and write (left to right and top to
bottom in Western cultures just the opposite in many Eastern
cultures) to the physiology of the eye and how visual perception
works in the brain.
Some of the principles
that came out of the testing are fairly obvious:
Most people won't
read anything that looks hard to read, e.g. lots of text,
no white space, all capital letters, etc.
Others are somewhat
The first thing
people look at in a marketing piece or web site is a photo (if
there is one) the second thing is the cut-line* under
the photo*...not the headline, not the body copy, not even
another kind of graphic.
seems strange, research has shown that nearly 100% of people will
look at a photo and read the cut-line even if they look
at nothing else on the page. If you can get the heart of your
message into one photo and a good cut line, almost everyone who
sees it will read it.
goal is to increase sales, or just to get your information out
to more people, using this and other principles of good design
will make your page more likely to be read and used by site visitors.
cut line is the line of text under a photo that explains what
is in it. It is sometimes referred to as a "caption,"
though purists will choose to remind us that a caption
is text on top of the photo, not underneath. Annoying purists.}
How Good Marketing Design Can Increase Web Traffic/Sales
If your goal is to sell products or
services directly from your web site, good design is essential.
At first glance marketing on the Internet seems very different
from venues such as magazines and TV, but in truth it is
In order to sell your products or
services from a web site you need people to see the site. This
is the reason behind the push to optimize your site (SEO) and increase your
search-engine ranking using reciprocal links. But it doesn't matter how many people
come to your site if they do not stay to buy.
In marketing parlance, each person
who visits the site equals one "exposure." More exposures
lead to more customers, right?...Well, not exactly. Marketers
and advertising salespeople are not always completely honest about
the nature of exposures.
Sure, you can pay big bucks for an ad that goes into a hundred thousand magazines ("Your
ad seen by 100,000 potential customers!!!," ) but what if no one reads it? ("Your badly-designed
ad ignored by 100,000 never-gonna-happen customers!!)
Your web site is no different. If
it is crowded, hard to read,
and hard to navigate, many visitors will move on to something easier.
Using good design dramatically increases the chance that site
visitors will stay to become customers.
I'm sure you know someone who crows about the success of a site you find difficult or unpleasant to use. And it is true — even badly-designed sites get customers — because there are so many potential customers out there. The web provides exponentially more potential customers than could ever come to any brick-and-mortar store. But badly-designed sites never maximize their success. Why chase customers away when, with forethought and planning, you can make them want to stay, buy, come back, and tell their friends?
Why Are Most
Web Sites So Crowded and Hard to Navigate?
Until just a few years ago, web sites
had to be created entirely by typing in code and then viewing
the result in a separate computer program. This made it necessary
for web designers to be computer-code experts rather than visual
Though the software has changed dramatically,
most of today's web designers began as programmers.
They focus on technology "bells and whistles"
rather than customer experience, never realizing that much of
what they do may simply drive customers away.
Don't be too hard on web designers,
though. Most marketing and advertising designers fail to use the
principles of good design as well. The information is far from
secret, but many folks seem to have missed or misunderstood it.
That's actually good news for you,
though. Whether your site is informational, or meant to sell a product or service, using good design
will really make it stand out from most of the competition!
Web sites do differ from print, TV, and other forms of marketing/advertising
because of their interactivity. If you are selling directly from
a web site you are running a store just as much as if you had a brick-and-morter store on a downtown corner.
Regardless of what you are
selling, it is essential to be able to put yourself in the place
of a customer someone who knows much less about your business
than you do. How your customer interacts with your site is very
similar to how they behave in a physical store.
If you were
a customer out in the physical world shopping for a blue-green
octagonal widget, what factors would affect your decision
on where to shop?
Imagine there are two
stores selling widgets in your area. The first store crowds
the widgets into baskets piled high in narrow aisles. The
prices are not clearly marked, employees are elusive, and the store
only accepts cash — no credit or debit cards.
The second store
is well organized, with widgets separated by color and size,
the prices clearly marked, and helpful staff members always
available to assist you. They take all major credit/debit
store would you choose?
Some people may shop
at the crowded store anyway because it is closer to home but on the Internet proximity is not a factor. You may have literally hundreds of competitors, all of whom are just a click away.
You cannot afford to make it difficult to buy or better-designed competitors
will get the business.
Site Visitor Expectations
If your goal is to
sell products or services directly from your web site, you must
make it easy to do so. Pretend to be a visitor who has never seen
your site before. What kind of experience do you have when you
arrive at the home page?
Can you tell right
away what the product or service is? (Click here to take the 4-Second Test)
Is the site easy
to read, with legible, commonsense navigation and lots of visual
Does the site use
any jargon that an insider would understand but a novice would
Is there an obvious
way to locate pricing and contact information for your company?
Problems in any or all of these areas
will drive most visitors away long before they become customers.
Especially the large number of visitors for whom computer or Internet
use is fairly new. Information needs to be clear and easy to read,
navigation must be obvious to the most unsophisticated "surfer"...or
they will surf on by.
Your Web Site a Positive Destination
Even new web users
have become much more savvy in the last few years. They expect
to be able to research products online, compare prices, and order
on a secure web page.
Sites that require
a visitor to contact a store or headquarters for pricing and catalogs
will send the majority of web shoppers on to a site where they
can get what they need right now. The desire for instant gratification
won't change any time soon!
So What Does
All This Mean?
A site that is easy to read and navigate, and where purchasing
is simple, will stand out in strong contrast to the majority of
competitors' sites. Previous customers will come back, and recommend
you to their friends; new visitors will stay long enough to have
a chance to become customers. It cannot help but increase sales
of any good product or service. And that's what your site is for,