Think First – Design Second

Dave BarbellaArticle


I’ve come across this more times than I wish I had.

Company X’s website and online marketing assets (banners, email communications, supporting landing pages and targeted messaging) look amazing / stunning / beautiful…. incredible eye candy. But it’s performing horribly with user dropoffs and poor conversions which ultimately lead to less traffic (people aren’t coming back).

How can that be? Boatloads of investment cash were spent on over-the-top graphics and animations to be as impressively eye catching as possible. What’s missing? Likely Strategy…. old school, sit down and think about needs, goals, and the right tactics to achieve it.


Intelligence, Goal Identifying, Planning.

  • Intelligence
    • Becoming intimate with the business.
    • Learn existing pain points and challenges.
    • Pay attention to what the competition is doing (right or wrong).
    • …and by all means, study the Target Audience and make sure all tactics yield relevancy to those we need to influence.
  • Goal Identifying
    • What distinct user actions will equal success.
    • What tactics will drive the user towards those actions, in a focused manner. And can multiple goals be accomplished via these tactics.
  • Planning
    • Create the clear personna’s of the target audience, and what their ultimately conversion tasks need to be.
    • Engage in smart Information Architecture, Content Strategy, and User Experience processes to clearly define user paths (logically to the conversion point), key areas of messaging and conversion support, intelligent User Experience and Usability mapping to set the foundations that Creative will collaborate with and carry forward visually.

A pretty straight forward list of common sense, from a strategical point of view. But in the quick-delivery world of creative and digital, these important steps often don’t receive the attention they require, and the value of this line of thinking is underestimated.

In truth, this process is not limited to Strategists, Business Analysts, and Information Architects. Professionals in all Interactive areas join together to collaborate on strategy from their respective points of view. Creative, UI Development, Application Development and the other areas of digital/creative processes all contribute to the successful strategic approach. (It’s the skills, of all those working together, that builds the strongest foundation).

So why are so many top brands failing to perform well online? Perhaps they haven’t met the right professionals to guide them, looking at the bigger picture of ultimate business success. Hi, my name is David… Nice to meet ya :>