These are all crucial parts that are closely intertwined, and each supports the others.
The best designers are also brand managers, user experience creators and excellent communicators.
They have a unique skill set that allows them to match the design to business needs.
They also understand that colours, fonts and shapes are significant but insufficient on their own to create a brand.
For starters, you need to understand that no design has to be elegant or beautiful.
Stunning websites with high bounce rates do not give the brand enough time to interact with the customers.
In this article, we are going to explore the fundamentals of purposeful design and see how they can be applied in real life.
Keep in mind that online graphic design platforms can help bring your visions to reality.
The fundamentals of purposeful design
Here are five fundamental design rules that will help you engage and convert:
1 – Put the customer first
To form emotional connections with your customers, you need to put yourself in their shoes.
This can only be done after research and careful consideration of their lifestyle and behaviour patterns.
Buyer personas and customer surveys can help too.
Here is a straightforward example.
Small business owners are known to wear many hats, so they often have insufficient time for any particular task.
Providing them with clear and honest answers in the blog post will yield better results than trying to lure them in with an elaborate website layout.
The better you know your audience, the more efficient communication you can create.
As we move towards the data-driven world, customer research becomes a pillar of success while being more readily accessible.
Social media and Google analytics can be used by any business, large or small.
2 – Keep the brand strategy in mind
A brand strategy helps you connect with the customer and ensure consistency across all messaging.
When the brand strategy is inconsistent, it confuses the majority of customers.
People need consistency.
It helps us predict and control the environment.
If your marketing communication does not follow a familiar pattern, it might catch the customer off guard and evoke feelings of instability or even be threatening.
Once you have your brand strategy outlined, you need to make sure all marketing and branding materials follow the same guidelines.
Brand strategy can help you increase the engagement and convert people who came to you from other sources.
3 – Tap into the power of emotions
People do not buy things; they buy feelings.
Everything that we do is dictated by our previous experiences and associations.
For example, when you touch a hot stove and get burned, you will not touch the stove again in the very near future.
The relationships that form as a result of our experiences make us wary of dangers.
They work the same way with positive events, such as hugging a partner or playing with a puppy.
These associations are subconscious and hard to control.
If you can recognise the associations and connect them to your product, you will maximise the chance of converting leads and fostering loyal relationships.
This promotes not only user acquisition but user retention as well, setting a strong foundation for business at any stage.
You can choose to either create positive associations or remove the negative ones.
People do not buy products, but they do want their problems solved. Problems make us stressed and unhappy, while their removal immediately relieves the stress.
4 – Use psychology to drive results
If you are looking to increase engagement and lead conversions, understanding consumer psychology is a must.
By knowing what triggers a specific response in the human mind, you can design graphics and experiences that promote the feelings of trust and propel people to action.
Here are the six powerful psychological principles identified by Robert Cialdini in his classic book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion“:
When someone gives us something, we feel obliged to return the favour. This principle underpins the effectiveness of $10 coupon discounts on first purchases.
Once we commit to something small, we are more comfortable with committing to something bigger. This principle is used in free trials, and even in subscription pricing structures.
We trust people and businesses demonstrating that other people believe them too. You probably saw many testimonials on websites – this is social proof in action.
We respect figures of authority, such as doctors, teachers and parents, usually taking their endorsement at face value.
If we like the person, we are more likely to accept the offer. This principle is often used in celebrity and influencer marketing.
We assign a higher value to things if we believe the opportunity might disappear. “Sale ends in 24 hours”, and related messages employ the scarcity principle.
5 – Pull, don't push
Engagement and conversion require different tactics.
Engagement is having people invest into the brand and conversion is about driving action.
Engagement has a conversation and conversion is guiding people in the right direction.
However, none of these tactics involves pushing the message out there and idly waiting for the desired response.
In the increasingly competitive world of online marketing, it is not enough to only tell the audience about your business.
It is essential to establish a connection, educate and inspire.
Information overload is a grim reality in modern society, and it makes people cautious about sales messages.
When you are laser-focused on your audience and provide them with solutions that are either entertaining or functional, the effect will be stronger and faster.
In branding and marketing, this means looking beyond the product and putting more emphasis on the people.
Elements that drive engagement and conversion
Now that we have covered the fundamentals, here are some design elements that contribute to successful customer engagement and conversion:
Language has an intrinsic capacity to create connections.
Headlines are one of the first design elements that people will respond to.
Headlines that raise or contain questions, present a customer problem vividly and creatively, make an audacious promise or use a compelling rationale perform better than others.
Higher perceived value through graphic design
Even though beauty should not be your first concern, people assign a specific value to purposefully designed elements.
For example, RyanAir uses flashy colours and cluttered layout – they are trying to convey the image of a budget airline.
Elegant flourishes and extreme minimalism are known to create a feeling exclusivity, so these design tactics are often employed by luxury brands.
Interactive elements propel people to action with minimal effort.
Once you engage the user into the innocent play with website buttons, they will be happy to explore the site further and make a purchase.
Custom images, preferably with people
People are visual creatures.
While stock images are cheap, they are also generic and don't create the feeling of novelty.
Novelty makes people stop and pay attention.
So use custom-shot photos, preferably with people, because having people in pictures triggers the social proof association mentioned above.
Directional cues and calls to action
If you do not tell the customers what they should do, they will never do it.
Help the customer comprehend the information and guide them through the customer journey.
Moreover, make the message as transparent as possible.
Creative calls to action are great, but if the customer fails to understand what they are expected to do, they will ignore the message or just leave.
The best way to understand user behaviour is to analyse the visual map of customer interactions and see which headlines and parts of the images draw the most attention.
Your eyes are used to a particular pattern when interacting with online content.
If you are used to seeing an action button after the main headline, your eyes will intentionally look for the button.
In some cases though, too much familiarity can trigger the opposite effect – customers will skip the most important information because they know it contains a sales message.
In order to avoid this scenario, you need to be very strategic about placing directional cues and calls to action.
Integrate directional signals into headlines as well as informational and educational content.
The single most important thing to take away from this article is this:
Put yourself into customers' shoes.
Have a clear understanding of their habits, lifestyle and behavioural patterns.
View everything you create for the brand through the customer's lens.
If you find something dull and ineffective under this method, customers will likely come to the same conclusion.
Use psychological tricks when appropriate, while keeping your business goals and target audience in mind.
Author Bio: This post was written by the DesignBold Team. DesignBold is an online graphic design tool that aims to redefine the boundaries of design and technology, empowering all users and organisations to convey their messages, products and services.
Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.