When Good Web Design is Meaningless

by Joe Schaefer No Comments April 13, 2010

When it comes to content strategy, habits are hard to break. Stop shouting out what ‘would be cool’! With that said, good design has its place but here’s where it doesn’t (really).

Content Strategy

Part of a content strategists “job” is to help determine and flesh out the goals and objectives of a website, whether that translates to a desired end-user behavior or increasing revenue (and a lot in between).

When pulling out one of the most important questions in the content strategists arsenal (why?), I probably don’t want to hear, “You know what would be cool?” after each successive, probing question.

Without knowing the intimate details of ‘what’ and ‘why’, the cool elements or what would make the site the cat’s meow are meaningless.

Clouding Process

At this point of the initial conversations, you may be clouding the process of the end-result and laying bumps in the path to truly getting there. At this point, design is practically meaningless.

I am of course, speaking of internal agency meetings, but this goes for face-to-face client meetings as well. Jon Christopher’s MondayByNoon article about Improving Your Process touches on this in a related way (see this section: Getting the proper details).

Once we know the ‘what’ and ‘why’, then and only then do I want to hear your ideas on how to get to that end result. Then, the end truly justifies the means.

Settling into a meeting of great minds to provide a working solution needs steps – some call it process (and no, not every client gives a doodle about that – pick your battles when speaking with them) during certain points, can’t start with the things that will most likely dictate behavior without first being perfectly clear as to:

  • What behavior is sought
  • Why the behavior is sought
  • What the desired result of that behavior is

Until then, keep your widgets and apps and whirly designy things out of the conversation so as to not cloud the true goals of the site (which by the way are not to initially make a site cool or showcase your skills).


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