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Design With Purpose

Mike Skeehan
So, let's say you're opening a new restaurant. You begin this process by deciding on a number of things: 

What's on the menu? What's the model? What's the competitive differentiation, etc.? Of course, there are a number of considerations that are critical to the success of the venture. But when it comes to building the restaurant, there are fundamental aspects of a functioning establishment that have to be addressed.

And it's not just restaurants - retail outlets, massage parlors, grocery stores and so on. Every establishment needs a floor plan (functionality) that makes an effective use of finite space and an environment/ambiance (design) that suits the customer base, speaks to their unique needs and entices them to buy!

That's the key here. Entice your base to buy!

It seems, when it comes to design, the traditional (and practical) question is, "what do you want your visitors to know?" Maybe even, "What do you want your visitors to see?" While that seems intuitive, it's not the best question, at least not the first one in online business.

Think about this for a minute.

Of course it's important to think about what you want to tell your visitors. But isn't there a more pressing question here? For instance, why do you want to tell them anything at all? You want to tell them something because you are in business. In fact, you want to tell them a number of things for a number of different reasons. But every fact you want to impart, every piece of information you want to share and every question you might need to answer in your consult serve some higher ordered principle - closing the sale.


The question at the top of this chain is simple. "What do you want your visitors to do?" Isn't this really the single most important question? What do you want them to do? You want them to buy! Somewhere down the list is the question of 'how.' Next come the 'what's.' So it's simple really. If you want to design with purpose you have to start with the right questions. These questions are essential to the right strategy. It goes something like this:

Question: "What do you want your visitors to do?"

Answer: "I want them to call me. If they don't call I would love to be able to call them - so I guess I want them to fill out my form. If they won't go that far - I suppose it would at least be something if they gave me an opportunity to teach them more about how my business can help them."


This simple hypothetical interaction encompasses, in a sense, the whole of online business development. Of course the conversation goes on, the questions go deeper, the answers become more complex and the strategies follow suit. But, in the end, this is how you need to approach design in this age of the web.

Take the answer to the question above. There were three goals mentioned -- obviously, there are plenty more to choose from -- but to illustrate the point, just consider these for starters.

The goals are simple and ordered:

  1. I want people to call me
  2. I'm satisfied if they provide information for me to call them
  3. I'm ok with at least being able to further my pitch

With Analytics, this would be tracked as a phone call, a form submittal and download of collateral (i.e. white paper, case study, etc.). All three are important.

All three serve the main goal - closing the deal. I want phone calls so I can sell a warm lead that's already invested and taken action in acquiring my good or service. I want information from warm and interested lead that I can call on to sell to. I want prospects to gobble up more of the information I have, as a tertiary goal, because all the information I offer is purposed towards getting the information I need to make contact, or, better yet, getting the contact to invest further and actively contact me.

Credit CardSo I'm back to my "design with purpose" definition. I know what I want visitors to do. I know how I am going about getting them to do that. And I know what information is necessary for prospects in any given stage of the decision cycle.

So, I design a website that is purposed towards eliciting specific behaviors and making good use of the 'real estate' that is available, both from a functional perspective and an aesthetic perspective. 

Is a Growth Driven Design strategy the right approach for your next web redesign? Get the A Web-Dev's Guide to Growth Driven Design ebook.
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