Design Always Has a Message

A couple of recent articles on John McWade’s Before&After blog really point up the importance of keeping the audience in mind, as opposed to the designer or the client, and designing for that audience.

A week or so ago, John posted two Craig’s List ads for the same classic Jeep. He asked for comments as to which one his readers felt more likely to sell the car. You can read that post here, along with the many, many comments. Look them over, read the responses, and make up your own mind.

A couple of days ago came a follow-up in which the car owner told the story of which ad came first, and which one actually got a sale.

The important message that underlies this is that the design that “got the sale” was the one that matched that audience at the particular stage they were at in the buying cycle, not the one that was more appealing to almost all the responders.

Design always has a message. It doesn’t matter how “creative” it is. The important thing is to know who you’re speaking to and what message that audience needs to receive in order to respond. If it delivers that message, it has succeeded. If it doesn’t, all the awards in the world won’t make it a success.

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