Ideally, you want a design that converts well and matches the marketing plan. But how to do this? Designers are hard to deal with, their work is something they do hold on to, and you need to find the right reasons to convince them.
But sometimes the decision is made only by the marketing team and the client. In that case, it’s possible to have impossible to implement requirements regarding the design. For example too much content above the fold for a site that is minimalistic with lots of white space. If that’s the case, expect your designers to react with statements like “this doesn’t make sense” or “we can’t just put all of this there.”
What is the perfect balance between the two? Communication, communication, communication.
The marketing and design teams must work together from day one.
Take both the marketing team and at least the design lead with you on the client meetings. By doing this, you can bypass many of the problems later on. Doing this will also give a feel of easiness to the designers. To them it’s much better to have your marketing team happy with your result as that will lead to fewer revisions. That easiness happens naturally thanks to the clearly defined goals that both teams share.
Inner meetings between the two teams are also very welcome before the prototype stage. If possible try to create rough sketches of what components go where and write a list of clear goals. Here is a list of example goals that your designers will appreciate:
- “A large headline with a central focus on a CTA above the fold for the primary service.”
- “One-page experience with all possible information and clear section separation.”
- “Feel of home, warmth, traditions through images and happy faces.”
Point 1: will tell the designers that you want a homepage with initial “welcome” section with lots of white space. Maybe a few graphics, interesting large bold font and big screaming call to action with maybe some extra information. The end goal is to make the user click this button before continuing with the page. If that was not the case, the designer could’ve provided smaller headline with basic intro information that leads you down the page.
Point 2: This sentence means that his primary focus is on the homepage. You won’t be serving all that much of information in second level pages. The designer will know to create at least ten different sections with various layouts. Experienced designers will also know to provide more areas for CTAs across the page that they will move around depending on the provided content. With this requirements, the designers will also know to provide as many options as they can for various types of content.
Point 3: This guideline will inform the designer that you focus your marketing plan on a group of people that value a specific kind of emotions. The different usage of colors and images might change the approach of the design team. Different layouts, different sections, the hierarchy between elements, white space and so on. This sentence alone will also inform them that they shouldn’t go for too ordinary day to day fonts, but for something more elegant.
A brief goal like this is always of help. If something is unclear, the two teams must discuss properly and redefine it. It’s crucial to be on the same page with these sort of requirements as that will reduce greatly the number of revisions. In addition, you will keep your teams sane and happier, which in terms produces better results in less time.
Okay, but how to make the designers listen?
This one might be a bit hard in some cases. Some designers are very protective of their products. They have great knowledge of harmony, color theory, balance and much more in addition to years of experience, so telling them that something isn’t good won’t cut it. You need good arguments to back up your feedback.
*What works best? *
Provide a few links with marketing researchers, examples with big brands and the fact that you don’t request from them to make their design ugly, but to modify it in another beautiful way, which will sell even better.
Your designers must be very aware of the fact, that just because something looks good it doesn’t mean it sells. Positioning, wording, hierarchy and main goal can be determinate by the marketing team. But how exactly all of this fits together in a harmonious way comes from the design team. And this must be well understood by everyone involved. Understanding and respect for both teams’ skills are fundamental to the success of the project.
Ego is often the main villain in this story. A professional team will leave it in the past and work for delivering high-quality work based on the years of experience of marketing specialists and highly creative designers. Doing only one of the two will result in failure sooner or later.
How to provide information to the design team
As a marketing person, your job is to define the copy. The designers should not bother with this (and they won’t do it if you tell them to most of the time). There are countless of articles and books written on how to write the best title, or how to define your CTAs, how to make the visitor to take action. That knowledge is not among the requirements for a designer.
By the time you have defined the primary positioning of the content a rough prototype should be ready. It won’t contain any information. The designer at this point can look for inspiration on the general look and feel, play around with the color schemes, decide which fonts to use or how the buttons will look like.
It would be best for the designers if they can start working on the whole design with the real content. A document listing everything that needs to be put is ideal. By doing this they will know what kind of images are required to fit and what spacings are needed to fit the text there. If there isn’t enough content, different layout for the section might be required.
All of these decisions are made based on the content provided. With this, you can see the reason why most designers don’t like working on a landing page without having the content to present. When you make them work without content it’s very likely not to like the end result. If that happens don’t blame it on the design team.
Always communicate together
If as a designer you’re not sure what would be the best in certain case – ask the marketing team. Designers often have a good sense of feeling when something isn’t right. They’ve learned a lot about visual hierarchy and balance between elements. This kind of feedback must be given to the marketing team.
Example realistic case is this: Three long paragraphs of text are provided for listing in a single section. This will happen only if the text is divided into two columns, but then it won’t look even. The designers often can come with ideas like “Okay, let’s show a small box listing similar articles.” This idea can be build upon to something completely different, but at the end of the day the whole product will look more balanced, it will show more information and potentially convert even better.
Another case scenario: The requirement is to build a landing page that separates into three core products. You start and end the page with this huge section, and have a lot of proof to “Why do I need this” in the middle. Then you have three pages for each of the products with their names. The designer’s idea is to separate each one of them with different colors. From this the marketing team gets the idea to request different icons based on these colors, to create marketing campaigns and update the copy itself.
Both teams are creative. Designers build something beautiful from white canvas. Marketing people develop ideas, strategies and produce a copy from a white piece of paper. Both teams are similar; both come up with ideas, and both need to work together through the whole process.
Here in DevriX, we’ve found that close collaboration between the design and marketing team significantly increases the quality of the initial drafts. Which in terms allow us to provide results to the clients much faster. When both teams work tightly together, we can provide rock solid decisions and clear marketing strategy that’s fluently represented through the whole product.