design! it’s exciting!

Every marketing executive who started to work in a new company does two things first: Revise the brand and renew the website. I have seen very few marketing managers who didn’t do these.[1]

Since marketing impacts the lives of people, regardless of their education and jobs, people have many things to say about it.

You cannot easily comment on an accountant job, maybe you can for an industrial designer. But you also can’t tell a physics engineer how to do their job.

But is marketing the same? No. You turn on the TV and see ads, you ride the metro and see giant billboards, you turn on the radio, you hear the jarring ad jingles. So, you are liking them or not gives you the ‘unalienable freedom’ to comment on marketing efforts in your company as well. Because marketing is everywhere.

Almost half the ideas in a customer survey we conducted about a product was on how we should shoot ads and how we should market the product.

Design is similar to that.

Every single soul on Earth has an idea how good design should look.“Orange goes well with green,” “Gray goes well with blue,” “Can we make the logo a tiny bit bigger,” “Can the text be in the center of the image please,” “By the way, that font isn’t easily readable,” and “Seriously, you think that image is suitable for our company?”

Once, a company was concerned about the color of the buttons on our site and said: “They have to be in this color blah blah blah.” I’m cutting short with blahs because their reasons were based entirely on their personal experiences. While there are rules and laws of design, a color working well on your site may not work well on others, because there is such a thing called “corporate identity”.

The ideal design is the functional design, and within this functional design, you need to blend your user experience, your corporate identity, and story well.

Homepage is the only important part of a website!

Almost everyone in the e-commerce business pays more attention to their homepages.

Look around yourself.

A very few people are “actually” interested in living healthy or improving their brains; more often than not, it’s about looking interesting from the outside. Seeming interesting may make people give you a chance but if you want to keep them in the conversation you need to have extended, attractive features, as outer beauty may prove superficial.

Yes, almost everybody in the web world labor more for the homepage. The goal is to attract more people to increase traffic and sales. However, if part of the effort made for the homepage was dedicated to improving the experience of your visitors, you could increase your sales beyond your expectations.

Your site may look incredibly lovely, but if people can’t find what they’re looking for or can’t shop, then you have a problem.

Be realistic.

Years ago, a manager asked me why we couldn’t do presentations like Apple with a straight face. They were expecting a serious answer for that -unfortunately- serious question. I told them the reason why we weren’t able to do something like Apple: Because we weren’t Apple. I don’t know if this answer was the one they were expecting.

Not being Apple aside, you may have high hopes for your marketing manager, who works 50+ hours a week, loaded with laborious workloads from a variable, irrelevant fields to them, and who is not a designer to prepare an Apple-like presentation in three hours. However, it’s a vain hope. A pipe dream in fact.

As far as I can see, we don’t fail to have pipe dreams about web design either. I have never seen a company that was completely happy with their website design in my life. When I inquired companies for details about this, I often get subjective answers like “Errm, it ain’t sitting well with us.”

So, when it comes to web redesign, without doing any analysis on the reported inconveniences, they brief design agencies with “We want our site to be like X Company’s, we want a section like this, also we’ll pay in peanuts, but we don’t want monkeys, we want a beautiful site.”

If you are using your site for sales purposes, whether you are in e-commerce business or not,

you have to make some effort, you have to put in labor. You have to spend ‘money’ as well. But the rich companies can’t go beyond “We already give the agency money, we won’t touch anything, let them handle everything” either. Your site is your love child, take better care of it, make some effort.

A good design shouldn’t only be eye-candy, but also enable you to achieve your objectives. Without determining your goals beforehand, whichever design agency you try to work with will leave you empty-handed.

Let’s make a comparison.

eBay, one of the world’s best marketplaces, greets the user with a minimalist, plain looking landing.

ebay

gittigidiyor

When I was writing this, there were only three banners on the main page (pink section.) The menu was quite simple; the top-selling product categories were listed. eBay’s prominent ‘Money Back Guarantee’ feature which is reassuring for newcomers, was also there.

GittiGidiyor, which we could call the Turkish eBay, is one of Turkey’s best marketplaces. It greets people with a with a fancy and flashy page. Number of banners is worrying. I really hope it’s not one of the examples of “Yes, pack that in, fill that also, cram this as well” approach, which is one of the pillars of the Turkish culture. The menu is also overcrowded compared to its American counterpart. Remember, if a customer didn’t already make up their mind about a product before they come to your shop, they could easily get lost on a cluttered homepage like this.

Of course, it is understandable for the designs to differ because both companies address different countries with different cultures. As people from Turkey, we don’t like to read, we are more inclined towards visuals. On the other hand, western countries love cleaner, simpler designs. But then again, a design shouldn’t perplex the customer; if they get confused, they’ll leave. Sometimes providing too many options isn’t necessarily better.

If something is unnecessary, remove it.

Richard Koch, in his book “80/20 Principle, The Secret of Achieving More with Less”, says there are three golden rules for marketing.

One of these rules is this:

“Marketing, and the whole firm should devote extraordinary endeavor towards delighting, keeping forever and expanding the sales to the 20 percent of customers who provide 80 percent of the firm’s sales and profits.”

By adhering to this rule, he also attests to 80% of products that do not profit should be removed from the sale.

“Note that there are always apparently good reasons trotted out as to why you need the unprofitable 80 percent of products, in this case, the fear of ‘losing stature’ by having a smaller product line. Excuses like this rest on the strange view that shoppers like to see a lot of product they have no intention of buying which distracts attention from the product they want to buy. Whenever this has been put to the test, the answer in 99 percent of cases is that delisting marginal products boosts profits while not harming customer perceptions one jot.”

Try to see your store from this perspective.

Convert your online store into your playground!

No, I am not talking about gamification.

You’ve seen kids playing in the parks, right? They run from right to left, from left to right, they swing standing on the swings, they slide down from the slides, and they try to climb back up. Children take everything tentative. They have no limits. Who said you could use a slide exclusively for sliding down? You can climb it too!

Another feature of online stores is, while often overlooked, they provide a more liberal approach to experimenting compared to physical stores.

You have completed your site, and you have begun to receive payments. Your site doesn’t need to stay the same for years. Of course, I don’t recommend you to renew it every year; it would be waste of money and time. However, why don’t you experiment a bit sometimes and change banner locations, streams, product pages and colors?

Did you design a ‘cleaned-once-a-year-and-never-opened-again-room-in-old-people’s-houses’ or an e-commerce website?

[1]I want to keep myself out of this generalization, but I have to point out that except for once or twice, I had to renew web pages against my will in the companies I started working as a marketer.