Why Web Designers Should Be In Charge of Marketing Strategies

October 10th


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Designers are an interesting group of people.

You can find excellent designers who are completely self-taught, or highly educated designers who couldn’t design their way out of a paper bag.

But despite the variety, one thing has always been true about those who truly love being a designer: they’re great at marketing.

Yes, you heard us right. Designers make great marketers, even if they don’t have a marketing degree.


It’s all about emotion.

Humans are highly emotional creatures, and as much as we try to downplay those emotions in this modern age – instead favoring logic and data-driven results – we still base the majority of our decisions on emotion.

Even the more logical and data-driven web designer is an artist at heart, even if their canvas is a computer screen.

And that emotional strength is what makes them the perfect candidates for leading your marketing strategy, especially when it comes to getting conversions.

Here’s why…

The Power of Design

Design is essentially about change.

To quote Nobel laureate Herbert Simon, the act of design “devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

Sometimes that change is something tangible, like creating a CTA button that converts visitors to your site into subscribers or customers.

Other times, however, it’s about something intangible, like the power of a painting to bring you to tears, or how a beautiful sunrise can inflect hope for the future.

At its core, design is about creating empathy that not only connects people to each other or to a cause, but to their own emotions. And this type of empathy can be a powerful marketing tool.

Empathetic Marketing

Stop for a moment and think about the last thing you subscribed to, or purchased online. Now think about the experience that led you to do it.

More often, customers are beginning to prioritize the experience of purchasing over the performance of the product or service itself. In essence, it’s about how buying made them feel.

Emotion is obviously not a new phenomenon, but there is an increasing emphasis on that emotional response (or user experience) in the last few years that has pioneered the way for “empathetic marketing.”

Empathetic Marketing – as explained in this article by The Garrigan Lyman Group – is what happens when marketers pay attention not just to what customers say, but also to their emotions across the customer experience:

“We’ve all seen the results of overlooking customers’ emotional intelligence: tone-deaf advertising that offends rather than endears, content that gets ignored, or worst of all, brands that take the brunt of social contempt.”

Smart brands, they argue, employ empathetic marketing to look beyond functional statistics, instead embracing emotions in order to understand the role their product (or service) plays in the customer’s day-to-day life.

It could also be argued that this is exactly why you should ditch your marketing team in favor of your designers – your designers understand emotion.

More so, they understand the emotions that move people to take action.

Design That Creates Action

In his book, Designing for Emotion, user experience designer Aarron Walter defines emotions as the “lingua franca of humanity,” or the native tongue that every human is born with.

He notes that emotional designs are important because they create “an experience for users that makes them feel like there’s a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection”.

Designers like Walter have been using design techniques to elicit emotions for years, even if they’ve gone relatively unnoticed by the general population.

For example, designers often choose colors based on emotional responses: red triggers feelings of urgency and impulse, green evokes sustainability and health, and blue promotes trust and confidence.

Successful design is also about minimizing confusion and increasing that emotional response. Everything on a website should have a purpose, and meaningless design choices can be frustrating for users.

‘Visual hierarchies’ help users understand what’s on a page, for example. White space shows people where to look. Arrows and images point people towards a CTA. Bold and large fonts let them know what’s important.

Every part of the design is important to creating a space where the user feels safe so that they can take in the rest of the message: our product or service can help solve your problems.

How to Best Use Your Designers

So how exactly do you start pushing design to the forefront of your marketing strategy? Well, the folks over at Invision have this advice:

“Design has to be at the table with product development or marketing at the start. It can’t be an afterthought. There’s a strong tendency towards a throw-it-over-the-wall mentality in the following order: technology to product to design at the end in order to ‘make it pretty.’ This is an old school mentality…”

They suggest using Stanford D School and IDEO’s methodology:

1. Talk to the customers and listen to what they say and how they feel

2. Brainstorm ideas that address those emotions and needs

3. Create a range of solutions that fill those needs

In terms of design, this means starting with the experience first, and working backwards from there.

Although, Dan Makoski, VP of Design at CapitalOne, notes that technically speaking, there’s no such thing as user experience designers. “An experience is a personal moment felt by people; something we don’t own as designers. However, we can design for it.”

In other words, let them design what they need to design.

It’s about letting them create the right environment that will help the customers navigate quickly and easily while feeling good about being on your site, and not just as an afterthought.

Final Thoughts

The reality for marketers these days is this: sites with no emotion are quickly forgotten.

And if you’re looking to implement some empathetic marketing into your strategies, look no further than your design team.

Design has the power to shape perception, create comfort, safety and trust, and point people in the right direction. In essence, design will make or break your conversions.

If you want to keep creating an experience that improves your bottom line, bring your designer into the fold right away and let them do what they do best. Whatever you do, don’t leave them as an afterthought.


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