Alternative Design Facts v. Real Facts in Digital Marketing

The public struggles to parse fact from fiction on the latest political and societal news story, but marketers face an even sharper struggle when it comes to parsing the truth about website design trends.

The rise of various devices, web apps, and chatbot interfaces, has stirred designers and marketers into discussions about what HTML, CSS, and JavaScript elements ultimately bring value to consumers.  

So let’s look at what is an ADF (Alternative Design Fact) and a RF (Real Fact) in design elements that support a digital marketing strategy.  The ADFs are not necessarily false or negative in and of themselves.  But time and new influences shape how consumers appreciate a website or web app, which means deploying new combinations of site elements to match the new expectations.

ADF: Good SEO starts with improving keywords and links on a website v. RF: Good SEO starts with integrating search, social, and content

Evaluating links and keyword usage in search engine optimization have always been essential tactics in making a website discoverable on the Internet.  But with the number of consumers using voice search is expected to grow – particularly among millennials, according to eMarketer – consumer discovery is happening through social media and on devices while consumers are on the go.  Hence the SEO need to blend how social media and content are optimized as well.  That means strengthening a social media presence, particularly with platforms where posts can appear in search queries (for example Twitter and Pinterest). It also means keywords in webpages and blog posts must be considered within the context of phrases that customers typical use.

ADF: You can only use color for webpage minimalism v. RF: You can also use images and opaque video for webpage minimalism

Whenever a marketer hears a website described as a minimalist design, the marketers will likely imagine a site page using a lot of white negative space in the background.  Negative space allows  search engines to scan text in context more easily as well, as providing a general visual focus for site visitors.

But high-resolution images and video for background can also be used for negative space.  Be it a semi-opaque video or photos in a carousel, the point of image is to illustrate how your product or services benefit the customer.

Minimalism in web design means simplified elements with a shared association, such as pages that use colors from the same code color family.   Real images and video – that means no stock imagery – can be treated the same way.

ADF: Having an extensive menu displays all products and services v. RF: A hamburger menu fosters clear product and service messages for visitors

Providing a series of drop downs from a navigation menu may be too much information particularly as consumers use tablets to access a site.  Thus a hamburger menu icon may be better appropriate to simplify navigation items, keep information high on a given page and reduce clutter from page elements.  Ultimately menus – or any page element – should provide the visitors a simple connection, allowing visitors to easily find the information they need, and perform all associated activities with ease.

ADF: All my business needs is a simple template-based website v. RF: Material Design framework allows for integrated experiences

Google’s Material Design is a series of simple visual and functional elements, laid out in programming hierarchy to create highly usable sites and web apps.  Material Design used a grid system for page elements so that a unified experience across platforms and device sizes is established.  The end result is that screen input methods – be it screen touch, voice, mouse, and keyboard – are organized so that the users can conveniently accomplish tasks on a site or web app.

This design premise has gained traction over the past couple of years.

ADF: A Digital Analytics tag is all that is needed for measurement v. RF: Installing Data Layers Is Essential to a MarTech stack

There was a time where analytics was just a JavaScript tag. Today data layers are essential for sharing information among applications. Data layers describe all sorts of data, from metrics between a tag manager and A/B test solutions to product and service information across business intelligence solutions. 

Thus marketers must verify that web elements provide information in a data format that an end solution understands. For example, a tag manager typically relies on JSON data to note activity triggered on a website.   

Expectations evolve, so marketers must recognize evolution and website changes comes with the business territory. Websites are   software, so implementing changes quickly is key to unlocking value from an element. For any debate about the effectiveness of an element, you have the option of testing it via A/B testing.  There are plenty of options such as Google Optimize, which I cover here.

No matter where you are in your debate over a website or web app, you should always expect to refine your digital properties. Consumers are expecting new experiences, and that’s a design fact everyone can agree upon.  

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