Art is for Museums

Art is for Museums

Art is for Museums

I caught myself pondering a WordPress Theme change for my site today, what a time suck.

There went an unproductive half hour as I trawled the web for ideas, until I snapped out of the time wasting fixation realising I hadn’t written my blog post for the day. I can’t remember where I heard the saying but it’s one I’ll always remember, and have used before, “Art is for Museums“.

I’ve never been great at design and regularly take fashion advice form my teenage daughter. Most of the sites I am involved with will never win design awards either but one thing they always do well is convert.

We are so often attracted by the “Eye Candy” and forget to focus on content, functionality and conversion. Look at those ugly sales landing pages for example, do you think those ClickBank sellers would use that format if a pretty design worked better? That’s not to say good looks don’t matter, of course they do, they are a representation of your brand. All I am saying is just because it’s not pleasing to the eye doesn’t mean it’s broken.

All to often I have been asked to look at a site redesign because the “they” believed it was the answer to more sales and better conversion. Design is rarely the defining factor in click thru’s, functionality is more commonly the key. Design does not attract more visitors, quality content does.

Now I m not advocating a strict Jacob Nielsen approach when you think about your site. Just ensure you understand what users are trying to do when they are there and ensure they are able to do it easily.

Don’t agree?

Look at most successful e-commerce sites, Amazon, Play, Ebay. None of these are masters of design but they are leaders in functionality. I always used to wonder how Amazon got away with such a poor design but if you look at the site framework and the workflow through the order process, things make sense. Up sells are placed in the click path but don’t hinder progress, once you’re in the checkout process, you’re there for keeps. Notice the navigation disappears. Turn on “1-Click” ordering and this piece of functionality alone reduces the ordering process to the shortest e-commerce checkout process on the web.

Remember people come to your site for a purpose, ensure the sign posts to that purpose are clear and you’ll convert more often than not. Just don’t get caught spending endless hours in Photoshop or browsing WordPress Themes for that cool design. It probably won’t make much difference.

After all, they’ll be too caught up in that all that glorious content on your site to notice, won’t they?

About Sean Clark

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  • Good point. Also I browse a lot of stuff on my iPhone and prefer a mobile theme. Most of the time I am unaware that the main site theme has changed as the mobile theme stays constant. WordPress and Posterous all have the same mobile theme across all sites. Basically I get the information without distraction 🙂

    Podcasts, YouTube (or Vodcasts) and RSS feeds all follow this same thinking.

    Rich(ps. I think this theme is fine!)

  • @richardmackney:disqus You know, to hear that from someone who is design orientated is really pleasing.
    “ps. I think this theme is fine!” < Thank you

  • Darren T

    Hear, hear! I wage a constant battle with every new website project undertaken at my place of work, between the assumption (on the part of the majority of my colleagues) that as long as the site looks good then it’s a good site, versus the suggestion that maybe they should spend a bit more time thinking about what the site should do and how users will want to interact with it…

    Sorry, rant over.

  • @926e6b09186e49c1d51c791915d0d17b:disqus Rant away, it’s a very emotive subject. Companies should be extracting personal opinion out of the decision equation as much as possible. Of course it helps to have a starting point, but repeating testing and study of users behaviour should be your guide. Not the MD’s favourite colour scheme!