Your Website is NOT Art!
Web Design vs. Art
When you hear the word “art,” a number of things probably come to mind. Beautiful visual representations, the appreciation of human creative skill and imagination, and evoking emotion are some ways of describing what art IS and what art DOES. I’m sure you can think of others and they’re probably similar.
When you hear the term Web Design, though, do you describe it the same way? Probably not.
But still, when beginning a website development or redesign project, most website providers tend to start the discussion with the look and feel of the site and what the client likes or dislikes. Not only is this putting the cart before the proverbial horse, the answers to those questions are irrelevant until the business objective (the job) has been established for the website.
Don’t get me wrong. How a website looks plays a role, and for some sites, for artists or photographers, for example, it’s a BIG role. However, in most cases, personal artistic tastes and emotion have no relevance when designing a website. In fact, they should be avoided.
In short, Web Design is NOT art and neither is your website.
Your Website’s Business Function
Websites exist to solve communication, marketing, and sales problems. PERIOD!
If you have a simple brochure site, it’s your calling card, just like a print brochure. If your business relies on finding leads (whose doesn’t?) then your website should be playing a role in that process. If you have an online course, you want folks to enroll. The list goes on and on.
In any case, your website allows your potential customers to digitally window shop. Are they seeing what you want them to see? Are they seeing what THEY want to see? Are they getting what they need? If you’re not sure, you need to find out. And the good news is, that’s pretty easy to do.
Art is Not Measurable
The core difference between Art and Web Design is probably measurability.
The job of a piece of art is to communicate and evoke emotion but how do you know if it is doing its job? You can’t because art appreciation is 100% subjective. It cannot be measured.
Your website’s contribution to your marketing efforts, on the other hand, CAN be measured. Is traffic to your site increasing or decreasing? Are people responding to your primary call to action? How many are converting to paying customers? This can all be tracked and measured so you can always know if your website investment is paying off or not.
Websites are Interactive, Art is Not
Have you ever tried interacting with the painting above your sofa? Of course not because MOST art is not meant to be admired that way. Yes, good art can be motivational and some avant-garde art has an interactive component. But, for the average person, art decorates and beautifies another thing, like a home, an office building, or a courtyard.
A website comes with the fundamental understanding that people will use it. Therefore, Web Design, must take into account HOW the visitor interacts with the website. Google even assesses the “user experience” (UX) when determining a website’s rank in the search results. If the principles of interaction design aren’t implemented, then the user experience almost always suffers (and so will your Google rank).
Web Design is More than Colors and Fonts
The visual part of Web Design (colors, layouts, textures, shapes, images, and fonts) make up only about 1/5 of a website.
A website that successfully solves problems typically involves expertise in the following areas:
- Environment Management
- User Experience
- Technical Development
- Graphic Design
- Ongoing Support
- When a website project tries to meet the ambiguous goal of “what looks good” (thus treating it like art), the end product will lack:
- Business goals
- Solid structure
- Proper technology decisions
- Valuable content
- Calls to action
- ROI analysis
- This “visual design first” approach never satisfies any real business objectives.
- A successful website solves problems. Art doesn’t have to solve a problem to be considered successful.
- People experience a website differently than Art because of the interaction element.
- A website’s success at doing its job is measurable. Art appreciation is subjective and therefore cannot be measured quantitatively.
The process a Web Designer takes to create a useful website is significantly different than the process an Artist takes to create a beautiful piece of Art.
The bottom line is, ALL portions of Web Design should be focused on solving business problems, not whether you like the look and feel. While a website may contain elements that are aesthetically pleasing, it is not, and should not be considered art.
If you’ve been focusing too much on the “art” aspect of your site or if you haven’t refreshed or upgraded your site in several years, chances are, it’s probably not performing as well as it could. Keep reading for ways we can help.
If your website is not performing as expected, in any aspect, take this short self-assessment quiz to find out what’s not working and what to do about it.
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