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The Next Marketing Tool: Design

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Design sells. It's something that all of us know, but few of us conciously acknowledge. There is an age old adage that warns people not to "judge books by their cover." In other words, we shouldn't judge people or products by their appearance. But this isn't true in America. We do judge books by their cover - in fact we spend billion of dollars on products that have prettier "covers."

Many people are aware how easy it is to create a web page and put your business online, but you have to ask yourself: is it going to be enough? Sure, you can get all the vitals of your business online and available for the whole world to see, but will your visitors remember your site? Will they trust it? More importantly, will your site cause them to contact you after leaving the web site?

iPods, cargo pants and cell phones

Oh my! What do these three items have in common you might ask? Design, of course.

Back in 2001 Apple Computers unveiled their new offering to the tech world: the iPod. This smart looking little gadget was an MP3 player, one of thousands already on the market. Against all odds, the iPod has risen above its vast competition and become a common household term. What can we attribute to Apple's success? The iPod did not offer any features that other MP3 players were already offering, except a sleek design, stunning advertising and Apple's clever branding. Great design has obviously paid off for Apple. In the first quarter since releasing the iPod, Apple more than tripled its net profits and sold nearly 900,000 iPods! Some may even speculate to say that the iPod has taken Apple from a failing company to the leader in portable music.

Old Navy started off as just another value clothing store spawned from the successful Gap Inc. While this company had the advantage of already having a multi-billion dollar brand backing it, it had no incentive for customers to actually buy the clothes. Old Navy has since become one of the leading clothing retailers in America becoming a multi-billion dollar brand on its own feet. Old Navy's president, Jenny Ming, attributes this success to design. Old Navy has taken a new approach to advertising and clothing style relying on fresh, new design. It seems to have worked, attracting million of customers to their cargo pants, PJ bottoms and fleece jackets.

Cell phones. They're everywhere: on the street, in cars, and even the hands of thirteen year old girls. No amount of numbers is needed to prove that cell phones have become an everyday accessory as common as a pair of sunglasses. Back in the early nineties, Nokia realized that cell phones might one day catch on and become something of an accessory. The idea was brought up that cell phones could be made in a variety of colors and in attractive shapes. Shortly after concept, Nokia's rounded cell phones with changeable plates were introduced into the market. They were an instant success. Since then Nokia has come to be the world leader in cell phones, owning nearly 40% of the world market. Cell phone design hasn't been the same since.

Taking these ideas to the internet

Okay, so it's understandable how design sells, but web sites aren't tangible products like iPods or cell phones. Design of web sites goes beyond designing something that "looks cool" or uses fancy fonts. The design of web sites goes into the realm of usability, information design and graphical appearance. All three of these aspects must come together to create a great web site design.

First off, your web site must be usable. This means that the web site visitor must be able to read, navigate and use the different elements of your site. A web site is no good if visitors cannot find where your nearest office is located. Secondly, the information contained within the web site must be arranged in a way that visitors will naturally find the information they need in the least amount of effort possible. Lastly, your web site has to look great. It has to have a professional look and one that's both pleasing to the visitor and conveys the image you need your company to portray. Would you expect a criminal defense attorney's site to be composed of light blue and pink hues? Strong, vibrant colors project authority and power; qualities you would definitely want in a criminal defense lawyer.

Wrapping it up

Design is a major part of modern day business. Making sure your business has a well designed web site ensures you are giving your business the best possible chance. A poorly designed site can be a waste of money and effort. Don't take the chance; hire a professional to do the job.

About The Author

Kyle Neath is an experienced web developer, developing dozens of successful web sites across California. See more of his work at


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