How To Communicate Design Decisions To Clients?

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You may have noticed that in certain business and marketing circles there exists a “backlash” against the design community. Despite the rise of attractive, user-friendly solutions, in such circles unattractive designs have somehow managed to remain at the verge of acceptance. You’ll hear ideas being thrown around like “design is a waste of time — we have a really ugly site which outsells our competitors 3 to 1″ or “we are not worried about the design, we’ll outsource it or use a free WordPress theme, let us focus more on the product”.

You can almost sense a little bit of pride in how ugly their web-site is, or that they are treating design like a commodity. However off base these types of thoughts might be, there is clearly a lack of respect for designers in the business community at times. I’d like to address how you can shatter this barrier and talk to business folk in a language they understand.

This article provides you with 5 guidelines you can use as a designer to “speak business” — even if it’s just to get your foot in the door or land a big project.

1. Pretty doesn’t mean effective: statistics are your friend!

Designers like to show off portfolios. It can look stunning, but business people like to see numbers. What was the conversion rate on that opt in? What was the bounce rate and average time on site? What was the most clicked on link from the home page?

To a business person, “beautiful” or “visually stunning” are just a first step. They only really matter if “beautiful” or “visually stunning” turns into more sales. Probably the worst offender here is the classic “all flash” site that is gorgeous and completely impossible to use or update. Everything has a cost/benefit trade off, and that includes design.

Compare these two sites for a moment. The first is from 2Advanced Studios1 and includes some fancy animation.

2

The second is from Perry Marshall3, who sells a book on Google Adwords.

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Despite being uglier, we can probably agree that Perry’s site is significantly better at getting new customers. It may not be better in other areas, but it all depends on what the goal of the site is. Speaking of which…

2. Every design should have a measurable goal

Saying that the goal is to “build the brand of XYZ” or “create an online presence” is basically meaningless to a business-minded person. A goal is only a goal if it is measurable.

What are some good examples of a measurable goal? Generating leads, making sales, number of phone calls, opt-ins, subscribers, incoming links, PageRank etc. Instead of trying to convince them that “attractive visual design of this sign-up form would attract more visitors” present them real numbers such as “in the past this design solution effectively increased the conversion rates by 35%”.

Web Form Design Patterns5
According to Luke Wroblewski’s findings in his book “Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks”, one single design decision related to the design of sign-up forms has increased the conversion rates up to 40%.

Try saying to a business person: “we split tested this design, and A converted 21% of subscribers while B converted 38%, and our confidence interval on this data is very narrow”. Now you are speaking their language!

Try to get inside the head of a prospective customer. Imagine them with a burning pain or question, frantically clicking back and forth on the first page of Google results that came up. Realistically, they are making a decision whether to stick around or try the next result after scanning your site for about 1 second. This brings me to my next point…

3. Your site should have one clear path

As a customer comes to your site, you want to be in complete control of the 1st thing they see, the 2nd, the 3rd, and all the way down until they accomplish your goal that you’ve set. In other words, they have entered your sites “funnel” or “chute”.

Eye-Tracking6
Research results from an eye-tracking study: users satisfice — they click the first possible solution that is easily presented to them and may lead to their goal. Source7.

The typical method of giving users lots of different options on a page has been tested and it doesn’t work as well. People don’t want to think hard to figure things out. Users satisfice8 — they want the first possible solution that is easily presented to them. You should be in control of things in every step of the way, and miraculous things happen when you start to think of your site as a set “process” instead of a maze of options.

Please take a look at the first page of this site9 (the screenshot is displayed below). Really, go ahead and do it and then come back. I’ll wait.

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Well, so you looked right? Let me guess the exact order that your eyes went on the page. First you went to the top left for the site title and logo, then after flicking past the phone number for just an instant you went down to the main headline about “Successful blogging starts with…”. Finally, you skimmed the portfolio and then read the two sub-headlines “Get Started Now” and “Learn to market your blog”. Was I close?

Look at your own site and stand back 10 feet from your monitor. What still stands out on the screen? These are elements that can jump out, with contrast, negative space, etc to help you control where people’s eyes go. There is even some great research coming out on eye tracking11. The point is that you can design with this information in mind to guide exactly how people experience your site for the first time and avoid trigger happy back-buttoners.

4. Remember the swiss army knife

One of the best analogies I’ve ever heard about design came from Marissa Mayer12 at Google. She said that Google tries to think of its design like a Swiss army knife. It has tons of features neatly tucked away inside, but you don’t see them all at once. A first time user might come to the site and just the main knife is flipped open. It’s immediately clear what the main benefit and purpose of this thing is: it’s a knife. But for the advanced users, a little thumbnail catch is still visible so they can slowly start to pull out lesser used features when they’re needed.

Many people’s web-site are like a Swiss army knife with every damn tool in there pulled out and exposed. “What the hell is this site for?”, a first time visitor might wonder. And like that, you’ve lost them. They’ll check the next result on Google.

13
Think of an effective design like a Swiss army knife. It has tons of features neatly tucked away inside, but you don’t see them all at once. Source14.

Keep the site simple with a clear path and purpose. Extra stuff on the page actually does have a detrimental effect in terms of confusion and distraction. Be adamant about eliminating unnecessary pieces of a design.

5. Provide performance metrics

Finally, if you really want to impress business people, put together a little report of how a design performs. It doesn’t have to be fancy — maybe a little spreadsheet (those business types do love Excel) with some basic metrics you can pull off of Google Analytics like visitors, time on site, most popular funnel path, and even a goal conversion rate.

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A spreadsheet with some basic metrics about like visitors, time on site, most popular funnel path, and even a goal conversion rate can make the difference. Example: Quantcast16.

Just putting in a little bit of effort here will instantly distinguish you from all the other designers out there who would never think to do something like this. Whoever your client is will be much more likely to say to a colleague, “you know they just get it, they not only design but they understand the purpose behind what we’re doing, I really like that.” And boom, you’ve got a referral to grow to the next level.

Conclusion

This article may offend some designers. You may think it’s off topic, not your concern, or counterproductive to good design. That’s fine — take what works for you and leave the rest.

Speaking in a language the customer understands is key to good communication in any business. Whenever you get deep into a field and become an expert, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t think like you.

Take doctors for instance. They go through so much schooling and learn so much science that it literally sounds like they are speaking a different language if you see a group of them together. But when it comes time to talk to the patient and explain what’s wrong with them, they switch gears and speak in a language the customer understands.

As a great designer, you can do the same thing and become that much more effective in bringing value to your customers.

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.2advanced.com
  2. 2 http://www.2advanced.com
  3. 3 http://www.perrymarshall.com/google/index.htm
  4. 4 http://www.perrymarshall.com/google/index.htm
  5. 5 https://edit.yahoo.com/registration?.intl=us&new=1&.done=http%3A//mail.yahoo.com&.src=ym
  6. 6 http://www.simpleusability.com/services/usability/eye-tracking/gaze-plot
  7. 7 http://www.simpleusability.com/services/usability/eye-tracking/gaze-plot
  8. 8 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/10/09/30-usability-issues-to-be-aware-of/
  9. 9 http://www.uniqueblogdesigns.com/
  10. 10 http://www.uniqueblogdesigns.com/
  11. 11 http://youtube.com/watch?v=GzgRfE5B1Yc
  12. 12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Mayer
  13. 13 http://flickr.com/photos/jesse_sneed/2383953694/
  14. 14 http://flickr.com/photos/jesse_sneed/2383953694/
  15. 15 http://www.quantcast.com/
  16. 16 http://www.quantcast.com/

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Brian Armstrong is an entrepreneur who also enjoys studying design. He writes about topics such as UI design, building web companies, and how to quit your 9-to-5 to work for yourself at his blog.

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  1. 1

    It was nice to see this type of article appearing on Smashing, but I really don’t think it unearthed any great secrets that aren’t abundantly obvious.

    Referring to individuals who care what the ROI of their site is as ‘business people’ really stereotypes clients. Designers and ‘business people’ are not all that different. To be a good web designer (as opposed to just a graphical designer), one must have a decent understanding of business issues, appreciation of business goals and constantly thinking about the user – which is the exact process the client is going through. Treating ‘Designers’ as people who make things pretty and ‘business people’ as the evil corporates who don’t appreciate the tormented artist is disrespectful to both.

    All good ‘web designers’ have an understanding of business, users and goals. Their design decisions are already based on these criteria. If you need to think hard about ‘speaking their language’, then I highly doubt the design would have worked / been any good anyway.

    The distinction should be more between designers who make sites ‘look nice’, compared to designers to make sites ‘work’, ie achieve their goals, and only in rare cases is this entirely mutually exclusive.

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  2. 52

    Great article!
    This is very nice article, I learn some more useful things from this post.
    There are many things that we need to consider when we build the site. Some of your guidelines are really helpful for all.
    Thank you very much for this nice post.

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  3. 103

    I’ve read this article several times now, and I’m still struggling to see how the 5 ‘guidelines’ will help to communicate design decisions to clients.

    Show them some pretty graphs, make bad comparisons between different types of sites, use language like ‘our confidence interval on this data is very narrow’? I don’t think so…

    Come on Smashing Magazine, you guys normally produce really good quality articles – please don’t let the badly written ones slip through the cracks.

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  4. 154

    Wow, awesome post! Very much like “designer folks are from Mars, business folks are from Venus”. Great stuff.

    The only thing I’d challenge you on kind of precedes this post, but still fits in the scope; “know your audience”. For example, 2Advanced isn’t talking to the same folks as the Perry Marshall site – they are geared for high end experiences on purpose, and seek that kind of work. Their clients prolly aren’t nearly as concerned about metrics as the typical company (but I understand why you chose them as an example).

    But the bottom line is you need to figure out who you’re talking to before you start talking in the first place. Your tone could vary greatly depending on the client.

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  5. 205

    i agree with Dave and many others not defending but also not agreeing with you on the first part of this post.

    yes bad example with 2 adv.com they can be too flashy but dang now adays thats what most clients want !!! flash flash flash animation, and who can deliver better than 2 adv.com?

    them guys are the pioneers at what they do.

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  6. 256

    BTW the BG on this guys blog hurts my eyes X-(.

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  7. 307

    Sorry guys, I didn’t give this post the time of day. Saw the first example comparing 2Advanced to a random SEO sales site, and just ignored the rest.

    Actually I lied, I skimmed down to the author’s attempt at explaining IA and Eye Sight, and giggled. It is obvious that this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The very first time that I’ve doubted SM.

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  8. 358

    Interesting article, even if the “eliminating unnecessary pieces of a design” seems quite market-specific : I’ve been living in Japan for a couple of years now, and l’ve been really struggling : lots of clients here juste WANT designs to look busy, with an overcrowded choice of options – it “looks more professional”.

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  9. 409

    nice article, but i think we are missing something really important here: a design, a website, a video and all the rest have to be an integrated concept. trying to sell someone simply a new website is like getting a fish hook without the pole and the little worm that fish like so much. design is an important piece and its not only visuals. but its part of the whole concept – and this is what you should provide for a client. this is what makes new customers for your client and brings more cash.

    and if you are a kick ass webdesigner, that is not really the guy who can provide the whole package of b2c or b2b communication, just team up with others! its really fun, and you´ll see, with all the heads together, you´ll come up with even more outstanding ideas and concepts.

    …no man is an island.

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  10. 460

    It depends on your target audience. A full flash site like 2advanced is to approach the large company who want flash, who want superb graphics etc.

    You would not ever find a company who specialises in “simple and clean” doing work for EA, or any other top company like the ones of the 2advanced client list.

    Flash and “Simple and clean” are 2 seperate worlds, get real. All of you.

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  11. 511

    2Advanced annoys the hell out of me, but it has it’s market (execs who are impressed by whiz-bang graphics and stupid customers who need to be sold something).

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  12. 562

    Brian Armstrong

    July 23, 2008 2:05 pm

    Thanks all for the comments!

    @ cenzor – Marissa Mayer has some great talks, can’t find a link right now but worth checking out

    @ sundaydriver – wow, thats a compliment!

    @Tony Freixas – thanks for the spelling corrections, you’re right I should have checked that more closely. also, agreed that its a bad idea to control the behavior of the user, they are going to do what they want…its our job to just make it as easy for them as possible to accomplish their goal, not change their goal

    @Granulr – agreed, maybe 5% of flash sites do this well, so it is possible. I think it can be appropriate in some rare cases, like a website to promote a movie or something like that.

    @Dave – you’re right, I don’t have the data on those two specific sites, it’s an educated guess based on looking at other sites (a pretty safe one though), especially since I know Perry Marshall has been split testing that site for years to improve its conversion rate. 2Advanced may not care about their conversion rate, rightly so….its not for everyone, but business people do care, thats all I’m saying.

    @ Hugo – you’re right I’m no flash expert :) It can be done right I suppose, it just hardly ever is, and is only appropriate in rare cases I think.

    @ Josh – believe me its real in the biz community. It all depends what circles you run in. It’s not an isolated case, especially among marketing people. Eben Pagan, John Reese, Dan Kennedy these are the guys invited to speak at conferences and sell tons of books etc….I’ve heard them all tell people design is a waste of time. It doesn’t sell.

    @ Two Socks – you’re right, different businesses, different goals, guilty as charged on the apples to apples. A design studio might be one of the few sites where that is appropriate.

    @Cesar Barizon – Yes! I think you really got to the heart of the issue. Design in isolation is not the way, conversion rates in isolation is not the way. You don’t need to be fanatical in either camp, understand both and take the best from each.

    @Jonathan Moore – you’re right 2Advanced is not a bad flash site, is has different goals, maybe not a fair comparison. I like what you said about “use the correct medium for what you’re selling”. Thats a great comment…i do think flash is hardly ever the correct medium though.

    @Mark Rosal – Sorry you didn’t like it :) I’m not an authority on design at all, I’m an authority on business. I think SM was trying to provide an outside perspective. Take it for what its worth.

    @ FOR EVERYONE – one quick thought on the choice of 2Advanced. It would have been easy to pick a crappy flash site, there are tons of them out there. But thats not the point I was making, that bad flash sites suck. My point was really that even one of the best flash sites still won’t out perform (strictly in terms of generating leads) a crappy looking site with good marketing behind it. Even if you think focusing on generating leads is idiotic or a waste of time, this is how most business people think. It pays to understand the customer perspective, even if you disagree with it.

    In conclusion, this article turned out to be a bit more controversial than I thought it would be :) (I guess thats what happens when you challenge beliefs.) It seems everyone either loved it or hated it, but at least we got some healthy debate going. All I can say is that is pays to see an issue from all perspectives. Understand both sides even if you disagree with it.

    Thanks for the comments!
    Brian Armstrong
    StartBreakingFree.com

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  13. 613

    Looks like Smashing magazine are now to big to take the time to write quality articles anymore and back up their claims with real stats. Makes me laugh when bloggers try to pass themselves off as Usability and design experts.

    2Advanced has a higher conversion rate of their target market to sales and a far far higher dollar value per sale then Perry Marshall will ever dream of having. Novice article….

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  14. 664

    Eric-from-Boston

    July 23, 2008 4:11 pm

    100% spot on…

    your job as a designer at the end of the day is to improve your clients business….using the stats and tracking mentioned in the article only goes to prove your doing your job….wouldn’t you like to know that you improved a companys leads by 40%?!!!!??? I sure as hell do, and have… This is great material to put on a resume and explain during any interview. With the web you can actually track if what you do works…its great!

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  15. 715

    so many designers stroking their egos in this comment thread when they assume the position of expert and accuse the author of being a novice. in a way, its reinforcing what the author is saying and even the example he chose. Just because there are clients going to 2Advanced doesn’t mean EVERY site should look like it was designed by them, because most clients don’t need all that flash and animation and waiting for things to load to get their point across. Sometimes, a site as simple as Perry’s can do what they are supposed to do with just the basics. In Perry’s case, flash would have been distracting and superfluous to his needs as a business.

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  16. 766

    “—-
    You’ll hear ideas being thrown around like “design is a waste of time — we have a really ugly site which outsells our competitors 3 to 1″ or “we are not worried about the design, we’ll outsource it or use a free WordPress theme, let us focus more on the product”.
    —-

    What is that? Where are you pulling this from?

    Anyone even vaguely serious about anything will not say they have a really ugly site, they may say it outsells their competitors by whatever margin you invented but they wont say that theirs is ugly.

    That is almost like them saying “Ours is ugly and sells this well, we know it is ugly but cant be bothered fixing it because if we made it easy on the eyes it would totally bury everyone else”.

    Would you really want to hire someone like this?

    Perhaps you have one experience where this is the case but I can guarentee it is not the norm.”

    Go to Copywritersboard.com and you’ll get a whole group of people who take pride in ugly site designs.

    Especially in the Internet Marketing world, there’s a wide belief that ugly web design generates more sales.

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  17. 817

    Perry Marshall may have a higher turnover rate, but he doesn’t sell his books for $20,000+ a pop, either. I would be willing to wager that 2advanced takes home more bacon than this guy.

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  18. 868

    Amazing article Brian! This really shows how deisgners should focus and move towards the right goal in their mockups.
    Cheers!

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  19. 919

    enough with the “beating author with the ugly stick!” – lets simmer it down.

    1. this is about sales, and more –the most ugly part– cold sales. why do that as a one-man-show webdesigner? go freelanacing for agencies. you will get the way more interesting projects and budgets. (2advanced is not the lead agency for any of their big names, they do work for the guys that do the integrated campaign concept. and get paid for what they love to do, no matter what we all think about usability and design)

    2. yes you can kick my ass for my recommendations about the sales issue and for being an advertising guy for almost 15 years. but i´ve seen to many entrepeneurs not making it in the market, building ugly perry marshall websites and chew on dry bread.

    3. vitaly: you really gotta scan these articles before you publish. your advertising is quality content (which in 99% is what you publish)

    4. brian, keep it up! first finish your design school, do your homework and get some experience. then go on writing (which is a perfect way to get your name outa there and get recognized by people with well paid projects).

    5. and honestly: who would build that website for this perry marshall guy? i bet he did it himself at home with frontpage (omg i just said the bad word!) and if not, what did he pay for this piece? 250 U$? who wants to do jobs like this?

    6. @all: beautifull to see this community: all of us really appreciate and read what smash mag has to give. good to see controversy about questionable content. but i beg to differ about some of your posts: if you critisize, get the right message of the articles (what is all that discussion about flash or not? its writing about arguments for sales)

    yours sincerely. dirk

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  20. 970

    I don’t find the article useful to say the least. It is flawed. Take for example 2advanced site. The author advocates the use of stats to make a point, but he himself is comparing two distinct categories of websites. Secondly, a suggestion to use stats is flawed as well. Most of the time you make a site for the first time to a particular client and dont have any stats on your hands. Nor does the client. So you can’t make your point. The best you can do is to monitor and support the site once its launched. So I for the following reasons I think that the article has a very small chance for application in real life.

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  21. 1021

    Very good article, The conclusion is really nice with doctors as an example. Its really useful for all designers. thanks for making us to speak the language that customer understands …

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  22. 1072

    I think some of you are getting hung up on details instead of seeing this article’s overall point.

    My main interest lies in designing good looking websites that meet the customer’s goal. End of story. If he wants flash, he’s going to pay more for it because I personally don’t like flash and it takes me an my designers more time to do it. Those are personal decisions that are made by each design agency… I don’t see the issues Brian brought up with regards to Flash being expensive or hard to maintain as being 100% relevant to the discussion, but you’re getting hung up on that.

    The questions we struggle with daily are:
    1. How do we help the customer figure out what they need out of their website
    1a. How do we tell them that mouse-following sprites, animated graphics (think under construction guy level graphics… yes, people still want this crap)
    1b. How do we explain to them that the amount of content they have (among other factors) necessitates a different menu style than the “zomg super c00l” one they saw online and want duplicated on their site
    1c. How do we rapidly prototype designs and layout and explain our decisions in a way that they WILL understand
    2. How do we convince the customer to make the decision that we think is most effective with regards to overall design as well as the mechanics of the site
    3. How do we design their site with expandability in mind, because we all know that their goals are going to change the second the site is finished.

    As a programmer first and designer second, I can tell you, it’s hard for me to take time to answer these questions and make the answer customer-friendly. In addition, sometimes you’re dealing with salespeople that editorialize on the design and want to inject their own opinion over the top of the customer’s. Our agency could be different from the rest of yours… We deal with small businesses that have never had websites, primarily, but articles like this do help us glean enough information to help make the proper decisions.

    The other questions brought up in the comments are easily as informative and useful as the original post, so I hope we see a follow-up to this. Every bit of perspective helps.

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  23. 1123

    The author was pretty much spot on and many of you complaining are completely missing the point he was making. It’s finding the balance of harmony that gives the business the most amount of sales / new business possible from those pixels on the screen. It doesn’t matter what method you use as long as the journey you guide the user through is as easy as possible. “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is the web design motto that has served me and my clients well for over a decade!

    I have studied eye tracking and other such research for a long time and the blog site is an excellent example of leading the user on a guided journey through the page content. You cannot help but be drawn to the main areas. Even down to the single paragraph of text in exactly the right place.

    I have created a similar site based on eye tracking research, text placement and heat mapping to fine tune. The results were outstanding. A 40% reduction in the bounce rate and a 21% increase in sales.

    As someone who has been designing websites for many years and researching user habits for the last 3 years can I say great post Bryan!

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  24. 1174

    I think people are forgetting that the overall design of a good website needs to meet the objective of the website. 2Advanced Studios isn’t looking for SEO, they’re building a website that shows the quality of their work to clients like Ford. They aren’t looking for clients that find them through Google. The clients they attract come to them from references and their reputation.

    The article overall was good, but the first point was completely lost in the comparison. I have to agree with Dave’s earlier post.

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  25. 1225

    Nice article, but mis-Titled. Albeit, good communication is vital to good design decision-making, this article was about more about designing for ROI, and not about facilitating communication between designer / design team and the client. Communicating decisions about design within the design team and to a client/business partner is a completely different topic from steering or guiding design decision making. Nice how-to, but mis-titled. Albeit good communication is vital to good design decision-making, this article was more about designing for ROI, and not about facilitating communication within the design team and with the client. Communicating decisions about design within the design team and to a client/business partner is an altogether different topic from Creating good design.

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  26. 1276

    Chris Olberding

    July 24, 2008 7:59 pm

    Yuck. Comments getting ugly, did 2advance call up their friends or something? Their site has a Hot Topic/90s design aesthetic and makes my head hurt. Anyway, nice column, the first point is still valid despite the debatable example.

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  27. 1327

    @William Li

    @Tony Freixas

    Just a thought,

    “People go to sites to do something they want to do, not something you want them to do.”

    Take your local supermarket for example, you may think your in control when you enter but really your being lead on a lease when you step in. Everything has been designed to get as much cash out of you as possible.

    As web designers, our goal is to guide users to the parts we want them to see, much as the supermarket designer

    Now image that your typical supermarket customer had a teleporter with them. They walk into the supermarket, decide they don’t like what they see and press a button. A few seconds later, they arrive at another supermarket. This one lets them get to the dairy products without having to walk all the way to the back. Guess which supermarket they will use.

    Web sites aren’t supermarkets and site visitors have options that they don’t have when they visit the supermarket.

    Now I didn’t say the designer shouldn’t guide them. I think the designer should understand the targeted customer and what that customer wants to do at the site. Then make that task easy and obvious. The experience will be so pleasant, the visitor will come back.

    Now look at the sample, Blog Designs. The highlighted text (such as the phone number) is the last thing I want to look at. First I want to know what the site offers me, whether its a service I want and, if so, if this is a company that will provide good work and that I can trust. The design leads me in all the wrong directions.

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  28. 1378

    @Cameron

    Tony Freixas… perhaps you should check the awful grammar and spelling of your comment and then get back to Brian who has tried to write a good, solid and thought provoking article.

    It is rather naive to say that people do what they like and look at what they like – everyone is searching for something but they are always open to visual influence.

    Strange, I went back through my comment and found two typos and no grammar problems. But then, I was writing a comment, not an article and I don’t even get a chance to preview the comment. I noticed the author fixed the errors I mentioned. And the statement I made is accurate: lack of care in proof-reading can lead the reader to see a lack of care in the article.

    As for the rest of my comment, I see the author actually agreed with me. As a designer, I am hardly opposed to the idea of creating a design to guide people to site information. In fact, I consider that essential to a good design. I just disagree that the BlogDesign site demonstrates a good use of this.

    People who know me would hardly accuse me of being naive. It’s a pretty personal insult from someone who knows me from reading only a few paragraphs. Please note that my comment talked only about the ideas expressed in the article. I made no personal comments about the author.

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  29. 1429

    I totally dis-agree with this article and this is indeed an awful article that smashing magazine has, his comparisons are not well though on and I do think that he also needs to research more on his topics before making an article.

    I would like to also call out the persons in charge of this author to first check his works before posting it into your website because it might offend some of the business that he used as an example here in this article.

    For me this article is rubbish I’m a web designer myself and design and functionality is very important for my clients and certain designs and approach are being made to certain products you cannot compare one product to another if they are not the same….that’s rubbish, just like when the author of this article did this first comparison, it just shows that he did not do his research on flash, on design and in everything in this post.

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  30. 1480

    to smashing magazine: this article is a dis-appointment for me….you should tell your authors to research more on their topics because most of the people that are going into your website are professionals in the field of art, such as web designer, web developers, SEO and etc. so they should not mis-lead their readers, I’m a regular visitor of your site and I usually read good and informative stuff in your site, but this one is just a dis-appointment for me. just a thought though……

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  31. 1531

    since i am no native speaker of english i hope the community will forgive spelling and grammar mistakes i make.

    concerning the article: a lot of critical comments have been written and i agree with most of them so i won’t go into that again.

    what i really like about the article is the fact that it is a reminder to never stop thinking about who you are talking to. if you want to “sell” something speak the language of your target group. that is true for your customers but never forget your biggest argument: true for your customers’ customers as well. the funny thing is that espacially big companies often forget that. in effect that leads to solutions which satisfy their superiors but are not necassarily the best solution for those “they” are trying to target.

    this is leading me to: it is not about pretty or not pretty but about what works best. and if you have that solution and have convinced your customers – then make it look awesome ;-)

    so let’s switch gear and be the advocates for the users of whatever we are developping.

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  32. 1582

    I find it funny that the title of the 1st point says “statistics are your friend!”, then the basis of the argument is backed up with “we can probably agree that Perry’s site is significantly better at getting new customers”. That, in itself, is a statement that should have some statistics and research behind it. Not only is this whole point one person’s opinion, but that one person is assuming that “we” are in the same boat. I agree with some points further in the article, but that first one is just another example of your typical, standards/css-fanatic, flash-bashing soap box. I think standards and CSS are great, but I get tired of posts by the anti-flash crowd trying to come up with all this unsupported reasoning that Flash is so awful for the web. The fact is, big money clients will spend that big money on impressive web experiences…. Flash. Companies like 2A, Big Spaceship, North Kingdom and other big Flash site developers don’t have to rely on standards and SEO to sell their product or attract customers, like Perry and his Google book. Their work sells itself.

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  33. 1633

    Geez, when did flash vs html become the new mac vs. pc bitchfight? Are there seriously people out there that think flash has no place when it comes to effective webdesign, or even people that think flash can be used for all effective web design for that matter? There are a bunch of comments up there that just come across as “mine is better than yours”. Anyway thanks for the article, it was interesting in it’s way, but thank god i’m off to do some print work.

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  34. 1684

    such a great article

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  35. 1735

    Its only an article, put your toys back in the cot.

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  36. 1786

    This is one of those post where the reader realizes that some post are absolute crap

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  37. 1837

    this is one of the best articles i’ve read here, really gave me some good direction that i’ve been trying to find

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  38. 1888

    Most designers and artists I’ve worked with are so full of themselves and can’t find their way around a spreadsheet, much less talk sense. If I only had a nickle for every ‘designer’ I’ve sent packin’…

    As a business owner, THAT is worthless. Take a course in business, or hire a salesman who can speak biz AND geek. Then you’ve got something.

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  39. 1939

    Author is a newb….2A is selling online experiences and Perry Marshall is selling a book….

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  40. 1990

    While I was expecting reading about means for communicating design choice (by the way there is a really good book about it : http://www.communicatingdesign.com/) it ended as an article that’s mixing interactive design, HCI research and graphic design tips and advices. Maybe that explain why comments went off the point by starting a discussion on flash and SEO (also preface doesn’t help as said in comments)…
    Meanwhile it’s an interesting area to speak about goal oriented design, user centered design… it’s a industry approach of product design that could be nothing but good for an online product. But it’s not just a way of communicating design to client/business people, it’s a way to design…
    I would recommend that SM write other articles in each of theses particular fields, being clearly identified this time ;)

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  41. 2041

    The author lost all credability when he did the comparision and slated 2ad in my opinion.

    The article reads like an amateur working back in the early 2000’s and not a modern day web design expert who knows his stuff. It is irresponsible unprofessional writing like this perpetuating myths that are simply incorrect about the world of web design.

    The comparision is fool hardy and stupid at best. The opinions on page flow while touching the right area are bad examples and there are far more professionals out there Khoi Vin, cameron moll etc that its worth seeking out rather than this kind of stuff.

    The point should have been that graphics, flash etc is not a trade off for good page flow or google rankings but poorly designed sites hold this true. The points on page flow are correct but not explained to the correct degree.

    Anyone pointing out how this is such a great article I suggest really checks out 37 signals blog, blue flavour etc and their articles on interface or application design.

    Any professional worth their salt is already designing in a way that surpasses what is mentioned here, the user centered design is what web designers are for, however not one of these professionals would make the kind of comments on 2ad etc that feature here. That in my opinion is what makes this article laughable.

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  42. 2092

    I loved this article, thank you for it!

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  43. 2143

    Another dogma-style / i-want-to-be-famous / article, 1999 had plenty of them. Mixing randomly selected scientific facts + personal oppinions and pretending it to become “my oppinions are scientific facts”.

    Thats, unfortunatelly, the path for ignorance.

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  44. 2194

    Thanks, Brian! It’s a great article…
    This is good for me to counter client’s problems.
    Keep it up! I would love to read more about this type of articles.

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  45. 2245

    Thanks Brian! Excellent article. This really helps.

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  46. 2296

    I found this really useful. Thank you for sharing.

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  47. 2347

    2Advanced pulls their clients from word to mouth and networking – surely not from their website.

    In a presentation to people who maybe are decision makers they can impress people with the website, but once someone asks what this navigation logic is about they are pretty baffled, but guess what because they have a good marketing it never comes to that point.

    Expand Navigation Array
    Secondary Destinations
    Tertiary Destinations
    Auxiliary Destinations

    Annoying navigation floating in and out. 2A is the most ridiculous “serious” company in that business.

    Auto Playing music. Hell yeah. Cue the Seabass song.

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  48. 2398

    Brain! its really worth it!

    keep writing.. on such topics which really helps designers..

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  49. 2449

    no one cares that u got 1st comment

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