Why Great Design Makes Serious Commercial Sense

Design is often overlooked as a core content ingredient. Here’s why it should never be an afterthought and how great design makes serious commercial sense.

Senior decision makers can be an elusive audience to engage, often time-poor, under pressure and discerning about the content they consume.

Studies show that content that succeeds in cutting through is tailored to its audience, original, valuable and is concise about the issue at hand. However, all these factors only come into play once the prospect has taken the first steps to engagement. Firstly, and crucially, you need them to look at your website, view your e-news, pick up a copy of your report or press play on your video and give it a chance.

We all know that abandonment is high, and unless you capture your audience from the beginning, they are unlikely to continue to engage. Take video for instance, a third of your audience will abandon a clip within the first 30 seconds.

First impressions count, the battle is won or lost within seconds. If it looks impressive and is visually appealing, people will give it a chance, getting past that first line of defence is key.

It’s no surprise then that thought‐through, eye‐catching design is the number one factor for decision makers when they consume content, but remember the opposite is also true – bad design, no engagement!

This all means then that companies need to take design more seriously. Design shouldn’t be viewed as a box‐ticking service. It’s a diverse discipline that should form an integral part of your strategy. There are three key areas to consider: establishing a strong visual identity, improving visual storytelling and investing in best practice user experience (UX).

Create a visual identity that users want to engage with. Most businesses will have a visual identity, a colour palette and brand guidelines, the question though is whether the identity is separate and flexible enough to adapt to the different content initiatives in a genuinely impactful way?

Distinctive visual identity needs creating in same way that you would establish a tone of voice for a communication campaign or website. You need to be clear on who are you trying to reach? What does the audience want to see? What type of innovation is driving engagement? How can it be adapted to suit the brand identity?

Asking these questions will help you create an identity which is compelling, ownable and in line with your content initiatives.

Telling your story visually with compelling design brings information to life and can help explain complex issues in bite-sized, easy to consume pieces. Design can establish tone and communicate emotions faster and with more impact than words alone.

Design should be considered as the ‘wrapper’ for the brand experience. Broken templates, failure to optimise for mobile and poor user journeys between different touchpoints distract from content and harm your brand’s credibility. A positive, customer-led approach to UX with high quality content and good accessibility and design across multiple devices opens up new opportunities to engage your audience.