The fundamental purpose of design is to communicate a message and to create an emotion. In terms of web design, the emotion we hope for is for the website visitor to “take action” and make a purchase.
But as a designer looking to achieve this goal, how much does my opinion matter?
It doesn’t matter at all. Every design job should have an objective, or a brief, that sets out what you’re aiming to achieve.
Many designers consider themselves to be artists, because what they create is aesthetically considered, and often beautiful. But visual communication intended to express or communicate something specific isn’t art, no matter how beautifully it’s dressed.
Art is self-expression; the message is a feeling rather than a fact and is open to interpretation. Art poses questions while design answers them… if your design is open to interpretation and your audience does something other than what you intended, then it hasn’t met the brief.
And while aesthetics are a vital component of design, good UX and UI design can be successful without being to your taste – whether you are the website owner or the designer.
Therefore, designers must put their subjective opinions to one side in consideration of their audience and the data.
With the different analytics tools that are available, you can track practically everything that takes place on your site. This includes:
The data is all there. It just needs analysing and applying to the design.
Ignoring the data and designing within pre-defined parameters of a trend or perceived good taste means setting out on a path that has already excluded the voice of your customer. It is vitally important to remember that the site you are designing is entirely for the user.
Designers must, therefore, put the user first and set aside their own taste and opinions. The only way to do this effectively is to be led by the research and data.
While I might believe my opinion doesn’t matter, design really does, and its impact will affect your conversions greatly – whether positively or negatively, depending upon your design.
Today’s online businesses have spawned new industries built around creating a better user experience. It’s not necessarily about being original in what you sell or do, but about being the best at engaging people with it — and design is the great differentiator. The best designs sell the most, the worst designs don’t!
Airbnb is a fantastic example of a great design.
The entire business is based on creating a better end-to-end experience for booking holiday accommodation. We’d all been doing it for years; we all had the same frustrations. One company has found solutions to those common frustrations and redesigned the entire process so you can do what you always wanted to do anyway, only easier (and with them).
If good design is about communication, simplicity, solving a problem or expressing an idea, you cannot afford to rule out certain possibilities because of your personal tastes and opinion.
To be a great designer your vision has to be the correct approach for the problem at hand and you should make sure your approach is aligned with the processes that are used for problem-solving i.e. do your research and look at the data. Within it lies your great data-driven design that will lift your sales and revenue.
…That’s just my opinion (which is supported by data).