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Bullshit Alert: Why “Design Doesn’t Matter” is Bad Advice

Don’t you just hate it when people give bad advice for their own profit?

Recently there’s been quite a few articles popping up online that talk about how “design doesn’t matter,” how it’s OK to have an ugly website, that content is the most important thing, or that designers are just trying to rip you off.

I have one thing to say about that kind of advice: it’s bullshit.

Let me tell you why.

There’s been a lot of research done that proves the impact design has on sales. For example, did you know there’s a study that was done by a group of researchers in Canada that proves website visitors make a judgement about your site within the first 1/20th of a second? I don’t care how good your copy is or how usable the site is, if your site doesn’t capture the visitor’s attention in that first 1/20th of a second, they won’t stick around long enough to see any of it.

Now with that said, I do agree that design just for the sake of having something “pretty” is a waste of time and money. But saying that design doesn’t matter is just plain irresponsible.

In reality, the effectiveness of your website depends on the right blend of three things: design, content and usability. Get any one of those three wrong, and your sales will suffer.

Think of it like the tripod of a camera. Take any of the three “legs” away, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

So why is all this bad advice floating around out there?

Because that advice is being used by the person that wrote it to try and get more business for themselves.

  • Designers will tell you that the design is the most important thing, and that the copywriters and programmers are trying to rip you off.
  • Copywriters will tell you the content is most important, and that designers and programmers are trying to rip you off.
  • Programmers will tell you that usability is most important, and that designers and copywriters are trying to rip you off.

So where does that leave you?

If you said confused I don’t blame you. How the hell are you supposed to know who to believe? The answer? Trust your gut instinct. If someone is trying to tell you that one element of your site is more important than any of the others, don’t trust them. They’re probably more interested in the color of your money than in the success of your site.

Keep your focus on your audience. Pay attention to what your customers need. Solve their problems. If you focus on building your brand (and your website) around those principles, you can’t help but be successful. A good consultant understands this and can help you zero in on those things.

So the next time someone tells you “design doesn’t matter,” just look them right in the eye and say “bullshit!”

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