It’s been said that with age comes maturity, guessing by a few of my friends though you might think different. When the email newsletter was but a teenager struggling to find it’s place amongst business it would often have outburst of unruly behavior. Much is the same with social media design. How can we take the lessons email learned about design and apply them to social media?
When email newsletters were new design didn’t matter, it was the novelty of the medium that gave function and created value. As time went on and people began to figure out the game and everyone became email marketing experts the system was flush with people who really knew nothing. Businesses began questioning the system and wanted answers to real problems bubbling to the surface. Problems that could not be solved by simply throwing in a picture or fancy text. Design now needed to be implemented. Design has always been late to the party but it is a guest you don’t want to snub or forget is coming. When the party starts everyone is excited that the party is going on but as everyone talks over one another it’s design who doesn’t have to say a word to stop you mid sentence.
This isn’t to say, like so many in the design industry will say, that design is everything. Design accounts for a very small aspect of everything you’ll ever do but just because it is one of the smallest aspects doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
As businesses realized they needed to incorporate design into their email newsletters there was a stroke of genius that ignited theory and implementation. I’m not sure what it was called but I call it designing the destination. I’m sure someone else’s called it that, I just haven’t heard it. The theory is simple; if it clicks (linking out of the email) it should look good. An elementary theory overall but when you think of what’s most important it is usually the least designed aspect of our efforts.
To borrow from the food adage that we first eat with our eyes, we make instant decisions first based on looks. We will decide a company’s affluence, ability, empathy, customer service, competence, trustworthiness, confidentiality, and security first by looks. Great design is always coupled with follow-up. It will matter not how amazing anything you do looks if you do not follow up with the call to action the design helped to create. Email newsletters learned this the hard way. Many businesses would experience amazing click-through rates with well-thought out design but would find abandonment rates surged as well. When no one follows up it creates insincerity and false hopes to your customers.
For our ultra-connectivity through social media, design and follow-up are severely lacking.
1. Work backwards; what does your client ultimately want from you? Design that.
2. Remove your ego; show competence and confidence in a different way.
3. Give a damn about your client; when you care about people, people care about you.
Image taken by Trey Ratcliff.