6 secrets to be a kick ass web designer

I want to have web design that converts! How hard should it be? My experience says it obviously is.

Whenever I work with a new web agency I get disappointed time after time. It is the same story over and over again. They want to design beautiful stuff and I want to have something that converts. So far I have not met a single agency that has their focus on conversion and knows how to execute it.

The agencies occasionally like to throw around the conversion buzz word but honestly, they have no clue what it means. Since they are into design from an artistic perspective the conversion knowledge is lacking which shows in their execution.

The other day I actually had a discussion with one of the designers which prove my point. After totally scrapping their first design we forced him to use my wireframe. He put colors and pictures on the page and presented it to the online team. From a conversion perspective the design was good and with minor adjustments we made it great (+450% in conversion increase from the original). The guy was not overly enthusiastic though and I asked him why, so he turns to me and says:

I want to create beautiful stuff and I want to have fun.

Obviously this design was too “boxed in”, so he couldn’t use his full “creativity”, which made him get bored! I was amazed. Although I knew that this is the way designers think, I actually never heard it put so bluntly. I turned to him and said; one doesn’t have to exclude the other. This guy is a senior designer, who have worked with big brands and made several campaigns, but the disregard of think of the client’s conversion is amazing. Honestly I think his response shows more the immaturity of people that order design than anything else.

Thinking about online conversion is an art per say and not many companies and people have the necessary experience so when the marketing manager at a major brand orders a campaign he actually has no clue how the design should look like to drive high sales.

I put together this post to partly vent my frustration but also to give all of you web designers out there a few pointers on how to become a great web designer so you can create campaigns that sell.

Here are my six most important points to become a great web designer:

  1. Think sales and conversion. Everything else is irrelevant. Actually ugly pages that are extremely clear convert better than beautiful and complex stuff. You should be into web design to reach your clients goals. Everything else comes into second place.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions to your clients. Ask them what works when they sell? Are certain features of the product or service what drive sales? Force them to tell you how their users think when they buy.
  3. Demand your client to tell you how previous campaigns worked. This is a great way to understand a bit deeper the effectiveness of various campaigns and adjust accordingly. Most of the times you don’t have to invent the wheel over and over again.
  4. Go back and see what has worked on your own portfolio. Maybe you have done something that worked really well for another client. With a bit of adjustment do you think it would work for this client?
  5. Design with clarity in mind. Make the campaign page super clear. The user should never hesitate what to do next. Together with the value proposition this is the major sale point.
  6. Educate yourself in usability and read a lot of blogs on analytics and conversion. This will give you a competitive edge against your fellow designers.

Following these points would at least make me very happy. It will definitely separate you from the pack, and if you execute well you will have many happy clients

Successful viral campaign

We had Google over the other day. They promoted YouTube as a good advertising channel and showed us a successful campaign done by tipex. Yes tipex, you know those days when everyone was on a typewriter and needed to erase their typing errors.

Creating a viral campaign is very hard and no matter how funny it is you never know if it will take off. To be honest I have not yet been involved in a viral campaign but today I planted the seed in one of my collegues. Hopefully she will pick it up and I can work on optimizing my first viral campaign.

Here is the video.