Design Skills for Web Marketers
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Online marketers need to have skills in a number of disciplines to effectively communicate their marketing message; whether search engine optimization, social media marketing or in simple copy writing.
Design is another important discipline that’s sometimes overlooked by marketers. Even if you don’t produce designs yourself, being able to understand basic aspects of design can improve the effectiveness of your marketing message. There are three design skills marketers should have:
1. Visual Communication
The ability to convey complex ideas through simple drawings can greatly improve the overall effectiveness of your communication. Limiting your messages to simple drawings helps clarify your thought process; and practicing visual communication helps you simplify other forms of communication.
To practice visual communication, use simple shapes and symbols to represent ideas. People can be represented by using stick figures. Arrows can show movement or action. Basic shapes can represent other objects in a scene and speech bubbles can provide dialogue. The process helps solidify abstract ideas, and it lets you see all the components that you are working with on paper.
Try using simple drawings to represent a complex process that you’re already familiar with. Perhaps it’s your overall marketing message, or maybe it’s the steps to conversion in your online store. Sketching out your ideas to see the clarity they can bring to a thought process works well too.
2. Eye for Design
When you have a good eye for design, it can help improve the quality of your marketing efforts and the usability of your site. An eye for design is not something you have or have not. It certainly helps if you have a natural eye for what works, but a designer’s eye is something that can be developed over time.
The first way to begin to develop your designer’s eye is by paying attention. When you visit a website or view an advertisement with an effective design, examine in and try to see just why it works so well. Or, when you see a design that isn’t working, try to figure out specifically what you don’t think it’s working. By consciously acknowledging what is and isn’t working with a design, you’ll begin to develop your designer’s eye.
Another important part of design is visual hierarchy. The easy way to think of a visual hierarchy is to look at the way text is laid out in print and with online publications. Headings are the largest and they immediately attract the eye. Then come subheadings, and the text is slightly smaller than the heading. Finally, body copy comes in last, using the smallest text.
This sort of visual hierarchy naturally leads the eye from heading, then to subheading, and then to body copy. The same can also be accomplished with different design elements, leading the eye from the most important to the least important parts of the design.
Also, spend time reading design blogs and magazines. A number of online magazines provide good insight into general design principles. The more time you spend being immersed in design, the more time you will have to develop your designer’s eye. Remember, design isn’t about doing what everyone else is doing, it’s about having effective communication.
3. Learn Design Tools
One of the best ways to learn something new is to learn by doing. The same is true with design. While you might not consider yourself a designer, when you learn to use design software like Photoshop or Gimp, you’ll understand what goes into a design and give you the ability to produce simple graphics on your own.
Adobe TV is a good resource for learning Adobe software like Photoshop. Another good way is to recreate an existing design. Find a simple advertisement or web graphic on the web and recreate it. This will teach you the skills needed to create similar graphics in the future.
When you practice visual communication, develop your designer’s eye, and learn design tools, you will have found the KEY to creating stronger marketing messages and you’ll become a much better marketer.
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