On any given day, an Internet marketer can wear a number of hats: writer, statistician, social media whiz. Here’s another one to add to the list: web designer.
“It’s becoming a necessity to develop web design skills if you intend on becoming an effective marketer,” says Christian Franqui, an experienced digital marketer and web designer whose resume includes Ripley’s Believe it Or Not and TwoThink, a full-service web design, graphic design, and search engine marketing firm.
While marketers don’t usually need to build an entire site from scratch, a basic understanding of how design works is an integral part to executing a successful digital marketing campaign. “It’s important to note that web design is far more than making a website look pretty,” says Franqui, who runs his own freelance design studio and teaches in the Internet Marketing program at Full Sail University. “Each successful business’ website has a clear set of goals and as a result, we need effective web design to help guide visitors and users toward those goals. Marketers could work tooth and nail to get maximum visibility to their websites, but what good does that do if visitors arrive on a home page and can’t find what they’re looking for?”
Franqui suggests all marketers get to know the Adobe Creative Suite software, specifically, Photoshop and Illustrator. He also recommends learning Balsamiq Mockups, a wireframing tool that allows users to quickly create web interfaces. And while some may use the excuse, “I just don’t have a designer’s eye” – know that one can be developed.
“Having a good eye for design can help improve the quality of your marketing efforts and the usability of your site,” says Franqui. “How do you practice developing a good eye for design? The same way musicians learn to build a good ear; they listen to good music. Immerse yourself in good design by reading blogs and magazines such as Smashing Magazine, Graphic Design USA, and HowDesign. Visit local art or design districts and check out interesting architecture or furniture. By knowing how good design looks, feels, and functions, you will no doubt be ahead of the game.”
That said, it’s still important to let the designers do their jobs. A marketer’s number-one priority at the onset of a project is to give the designer clear expectations and goals. “This often will be something that can be measured,” says Franqui, who teaches the Principles of Interactive Media and Search Engine Optimization courses in Full Sail’s Internet Marketing program. “Design is subjective, biased, and usually requires an iterative process. It’s best to leave that to the professional. As the marketer, focus on the goals and your audience, not your personal taste. As long as you keep that in mind, you shouldn’t be stepping on any toes.”
While supreme web design skills aren’t crucial, any knowledge of web design will only serve to make an Internet marketer a stronger asset to his or her company.
“Marketing is a multi-faceted discipline,” says Franqui, “so whether we need to effectively communicate a message, provoke emotion so users take action, or provide an experience that extends a brand’s expectations, your website and its design will be your common denominator.”
Web design and usability is one of the many topics explored by students in the Internet Marketing Master of Science degree program at Full Sail University. Click here to learn more about Full Sail’s accelerated online programs, and get started on your path to a master’s degree today.