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DESIGN & CRAFT

Craft in the Age of Performance

Dave Benton, Metajive

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Each year we hear about how budgets from large brands are being shifted to “digital”. Modern brands are being pushed to produce more content than ever before to capture audiences on social media as TV goes the way of the velociraptor.

And as performance marketing is growing at an exponential rate, SEO, SEM and iterative A/B testing reign king. These trends force us to examine if the role of craft in design and development matter in today's conversion-focused market.

While our team at Metajive loves a good banner ad, email drip campaign, or sales funnel analysis, it is not what first made us fall in love with the industry. We have watched as companies realize the amazing direct revenue opportunities available across almost every industry. With the rise of mobile-first responsive design, social media integration, SEO, tag management and hundreds of other details all became necessities; we have seen the complexity of projects and their budgets balloon accordinly. This made us question the investment we have seen, time and attention, and budgets pulled from design and overall site polish.

Over the past few years, we have seen a new class of leading companies emerge; recognizing that their brand still matters while leveraging performance marketing techniques. These brands know they need to be visually interesting in order to differentiate from the sea of competitors. The truly smart brands have been working on differentiation in the digital space by authentically communicating one-to-one with their audience. These brands have grown at a rapid pace by learning to communicate directly with their audience through a democratization of Ad-tech putting super accurate, well timed, cost-effective ads in front of your audience across all digital mediums.              

We have seen disrupters like Casper and Warby Parker create billion-dollar valuations focusing on digital as their primary marketing channel. These brands are excelling by focusing on the details that truly embrace the craft of design. One of fashion’s rising stars, Everlane, includes key team members that consist of a Head of Digital Marketing and Digital Design Lead directly behind the CEO and Angel Investor. Warby Parker hires leading fashion photographers who share rosters with Bergdorf Goodman, J.Crew, GQ & Banana Republic. These market-leading companies have taken the lead by communicating their value not just at the right time but with great care to their image. 

In addition to design, we need to give credit to the developers that are enabling true brand experiences. Right now at leading companies, developers are truly being embraced as a member of the design and UX teams. In the modern age of rapid prototyping, iterative design and continuous deployment developers are contributing to the team with the craft of subtle animations, fast load times and controlling every nuance of the user’s potential customers experiences. The details this team cares about effect the bottom line; a one-second delay in site load time causes 11% less page views and 7% less conversion. When design and development work as one team, the bar and the bottom line is raised for everyone.  

Consumers today have more options than ever before and are being shouted to from brands in every direction. With the average person seeing between 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, it is nearly impossible to stand out. Brands are working overtime to overcome brand competition and market dilution in order to become something consumers want to interact with. Each detail of every experience matters more and more to the customer experience. Up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website's performance say they're less likely to buy from the same site again; and think about how you felt last time a brands app didn’t work. While display ads have a click through rate of just .35%, we are wasting our money if we’re not considering experience of brand impression for the other 99.65% of potential customers.  

Focusing on the craft at which your brand is presented makes just as much sense embracing performance goals.  If we look at the market leaders, we can see craft not only makes sense for marketing, but it also makes sense for acquisition and conversion in both the short and long run.

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About the author: With a life mission to create exceptional experience, Dave founded interactive design firm Metajive in 1999. Focused on collaborating with his clients and team, Dave is always looking for new opportunities to disrupt. When Dave isn’t working, he’s trying to catch a few waves.