When you hear the word “data”, analytics, insights, or numbers may come to mind. My mind goes to target audiences, direction, and design.
We all joke that my job at ANS is to “make things look pretty.” Making something pretty is only half the goal though. It doesn’t matter how pretty a show poster, sticker, direct mail piece, or social media post looks. If it doesn’t connect with the audience, I have failed at my job.
“Beautiful design brings form and function together to motivate a person to take action, reduce their anxiety towards action and provide a clear, easy path to conversion.”
So what does data design have to do with conversion? How does a designer use data to make a piece that creates a connection?
DETERMINING THE OBJECTIVE FOR YOUR DATA DESIGN PROJECT
Let’s start with the objective of the campaign. At this point in the design process, you are collecting data about the campaign you are creating visuals for and determining the platforms where they will be posted, the timeline, reasoning behind the project, and ultimately the objective. Art becomes much more powerful when it has an objective behind it. I probably have a few artists cringing in their seats right now, but honestly, even the Mona Lisa, The Sistine Chapel and the statue of David all have some objective or message. It may be just to create a masterpiece, but the artist always has a purpose.
Some of the most excellent pieces of art come from wartime posters. Think “Rosie the Riveter” and “Uncle Sam Wants You” posters. I dare say we remember these pieces of work, not because of the incredible artwork, but because of the message they tell the world.
These posters have a definite objective. These pieces of art take a person back to a time when the United States of America was at war. Almost ALL of the men were fighting in the war. America needed the help of as many able men as they could get. The women were obligated to get their hands dirty and work many manual labor jobs while their husbands, brothers, and fathers were at war.
Do you recognize these posters?
Do you know their story?
Finding an objective is extremely important. It gives the “why” to our designs as a creative. It is the basis for the creative process. What is the point? What am I trying to make my viewer do? Not only is it the basis for the creative process, but the campaign as well.
THE DATA IN YOUR DESIGN
Finding your audience is huge in making connection and conversion. Your audience is “the peanut butter to your jelly.” Without an audience to create for, we’re just slapping information on a screen. When designing, this audience and objective will be the determining pieces of the creation.
I often feel as a designer it is easy to forget we are not creating for our boss or supervisor, but for our viewers. Sometimes ignoring that little piece of information can cost a company some underperforming creations and ultimately customers.
Knowing and understanding an audience can take a design from mediocre to excellent. Using your data, to the advantage of creating an audience, is just like using data to create a lookalike audience on Facebook. We can use states, cities, year of birth, interest, etc. to create our audience for the creative. Ultimately, it gives us an outline of what or what not to create.
Once the objective and audience are determined, it is time to use the data to create boundaries for yourself. I know, limits sound scary, but in the end, will save so much heartache when things are cohesive and appealing to the audience.
Always remember, rules look more like guidelines, and if you’re an artist, they might get broken on occasion anyway.
There are some fundamental guidelines that every piece should include. I found these suggestions on CampaignMonitor.com.
MOTIVATE A PERSON TO TAKE ACTION
Make your objective/product clear. According to Adam Ferrier, desire is made of two elements: individual incentive and social norms. Usually, a high motive makes us do something because it will either give us pleasure or will help us avoid pain. Often using emotion can help inspire a person to action. Have you watched a commercial that brings you to tears? Insurance companies are great at this.
How about “Shipping Your Pants,” did KMart make you laugh?
Knowing your audience can determine what motivates your viewers.
REDUCE ANXIETY TOWARD THE PRODUCT
It is important to let your mind become your audience for a while. Find out what your viewers are going to have questions about, be leery about, wonder about, etc. Once the “anxiety” potential is named, determine how to minimize the unease with the creative.
Some ways to lessen the unease could be to show the number of successes, how the product can benefit each customer, success stories, and customer numbers (only if impressive).
Your “product” can vary depending on different campaigns. Sometimes your “product” can be your brand. Others can be a specific product you’re offering, or even a particular person or department in your company. The point is to be as transparent about whatever the product is as possible.
Some of my favorite commercials are brands showing their brand. Super real. Extremely powerful.
PROVIDE A CLEAR AND EASY PATH
Ultimately, the objective of the creative is to make the audience convert. Therefore, it is necessary to make the path clear and straightforward. The more natural the navigation, the higher chance of conversion. Limit the options and reduce the steps to final conversion.
All of these guidelines require knowledge of the target audience– likes, dislikes, hobbies, work positions, income amount, etc. The data we gather can give us these characteristics.
For instance, we made a video announcing that we were exhibiting at Leadscon. The objective was to get people to come see our booth at the convention. We wanted to make it similar to the style of Leadscon branding with the bright colors to subconsciously remind people we were going to Leadscon. We also were clear about who we are, where we’d be, the time we’d be there and the exact booth number. Everything the audience needed to convert.
CREATE, CREATE, CREATE, THEN CREATE AGAIN.
Shh… creative minds at work here.
The creative process is different for everyone. Do you girl/man, do you!
Although the creative process may vary, some may sketch, others may daydream, the “objective” is still the same. Using the rules you made for yourself, and create something magical. Always, always, always remember the data you have gathered.
I usually make a rough first draft, ask for thoughts, and then make the recommended changes and move forward. It is easier to completely redesign a piece in the beginning stages than after you have spent significant amounts of time designing the wrong thing.
Once I feel like a piece is complete to my perspective, I send it out for approval. Usually, it comes back with changes, and this could repeat several times, and then finally there is a finished product. It is essential to be open to suggestions at this point in the design process. Data may be viewed differently by different people. All of which can be right. It is nice to get another set of eyes on what you are creating to make sure you are paying attention to your audience and not getting lost in the creative.
LOOK AT THE DATA YOU DESIGNED
As a marketing designer, the job isn’t complete at this point. After the piece runs, it is critical to evaluate the response. What worked, what didn’t, what can we change for next time, and what should stay the same? Check your analytics.The moral of the story: Data makes the world go round. Don’t be afraid of it. Use it to your advantage. When you need that data we’ll be here with all your data needs.If you need help with design, data, or both, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!