There’s a running joke with I.T. folks that they’re seen as expendable, because people often only see them one of two ways:
- All systems are running great, so why do we have I.T.?
- Things are broken, so why do we have I.T.?
Similar are sound techs at a concert. They’re completely invisible, and often underappreciated, unless something goes wrong. It’s a tough place to be.
The same is true of good design when it comes to marketing. If you notice how well something is designed, that’s often a problem because you’re now distracted from the object of the marketing. If you’re dazzled by the cool hover effects on a button, you’re not engaged in the material on the page.
That’s not to say that design should be bad, because that is equally distracting. If you notice how poorly something is designed, that’s a big problem — in fact, it may be a bigger problem because now you’ve again not seen the purpose of the content, but you also have a bad taste in your mouth regarding that company.
The best design always works toward accomplishing a goal. That goal may be to inform, direct to a purchase, gain a sign-up on an email list, or a litany of other things, but the purpose must be there. When we’re building a website, we lay out a goal for every single page of the site and then work to guide visitors toward that goal. This is much easier said than done, which is why I work with professional designers rather than trying to put something together myself. Most of my designs would quickly fall into the “bad” category, despite my best efforts.
If your design looks awesome simply for the sake of looking awesome, it’s very likely that you’ve missed the point.