In regards to web design, the last 365 days, or so, have been mostly occupied with talk of cascading style sheets and the banter of web standards.
Who’s doing it. How to code it properly. Lists of lists of sites that have converted. How to code it properly redux. The Orange book, the Salmon book, and others. And like, oh-my-gosh, like if I see another web standards award site, like dude, gag me.
Now I’m all for a good conversation and exhibition of great design work but enough is enough. Web standards and style sheets are here to stay (ya hooray!). It’s time to move on. So let’s talk about money and metrics.
If you design all day and never have to worry about sales, traffic reports, bottom lines, or rent, then more power to you. Or if you are a ‘design is for design sake’ type person then please stop reading this entry — go read a comic book or this month’s issue of Atlantic Monthly (and be sure to blog it — oh goody!).
You can style a site six ways to Sunday but unless it does something to improve the metrics for which the design has been made, well it won’t amount to a pile of nested tables.
Todd Purgason is the creative director of Juxt Interactive, a well to do design shop in Newport Beach, California. Juxt’s work has won many awards and top spots in design/interactive design annuals such as HOW and Communication Arts. Their design work is top notch and they have earned a reputation for doing excellent work.
Todd’s shop has every right to talk about the importance of great design, how to do it, inspirations for their work, design for design sake, yadda yadda yadda.
Yet despite all of their success in the design business, Todd keeps it real in recent interview with Design Interact.
“I like winning design awards and creating attention”, says Purgason, “but I like it more when the client comes back and says that sales went up 200% and I know I did a good job.”
Todd’s focus reminds me of another well known design shop, 37 Signals. At the 2002 South by Southwest conference 37 Signals gave a presentation on the opening night. While highlighting some of the work done by the company, Jason would point out that the design had resulted in some form of measurable success (increase sales or traffic by X%). For each project, he was able to identify what their work had done to improve the bottom line of the client.
Design is only part of the economic success of a website as a whole, but it’s still vital to that success. I don’t care how much you want to make a site conform to web standards, or do something ultra cool with style switchers; unless it achieves a measurable amount of success, it’s all pie in the sky.