A Matter Of Beauty – How Aesthetics Matter In Design

How important is beauty and color in a website design?

In real life, beauty is a heated topic. There are those who believe that beauty is only skin deep, and those who consider it one of the paramount things in life. There is no denying that beauty opens doors; both literally and figuratively. Then why should you refrain from creating a beautiful design for your site, just because the pseudo-intellectuals would have it that way? Aesthetic graphic designing and functionality are not mutually exclusive and it is possible to have a design that is easy on the eye, as well as functions smooth.

Understanding the basics of aesthetics

Aesthetics is concerned with everything that appeals to the senses – it’s not only what we see, but also what we hear, taste , and feel. According to Wiki, aesthetics is also an examination of the “domain response to an object or phenomenon”. So it’s not just about the beauty but also how people react to the elements in the design and how the design in itself influences the viewer’s understanding and emotions.

Aesthetics can be cleverly used in design to influence cognition and communicate function. Fonts, colors, shading, shadows – all of these are visual methods of communicating to the user a certain intent. There is no right or wrong way to communicate this intent, but a slight understanding of consumer psychology will tell you a message that is conveyed in an attractive manner is likely to get more than its fair share of attention.

Product personality and its influence on people

When you think of an Indian vehicle that exemplifies endurance and durability, the Tata Safari springs to mind unbidden. The Royal Enfield brand is synonymous with long rides in treacherous terrain. And the Maruti 800 is India’s first family car. There claims made by these products are definitely supported by their performance features, but more importantly these brands have been capable of creating a certain product personality in our minds with their marketing strategies.

The same can also be said of design. Aesthetics in graphic designing play a vital role in creating product personality – the ethos of the website if you will. And this is what the consumer will remember about the site long after his first visit. The personality that you create for your site will determine how much trust the user places in your brand, and the perception and expectations associated with your brand. For instance, Apple as a brand has been associated with sleekly designed electronics for so long that if the company decides to change its product design and personality overnight, the market would be highly enraged.

Consumers ‘choose’ to use products that they feel are an extension of their own personalities. And using the right design and graphic elements can help you create a product personality that connects with your target audience. In design, beauty is much more than mere decoration. Form and functionality do not necessarily have to exist on separate planes. The next time someone tells you otherwise, you can point them to this page!

Digital Marketing in India – the trends that rocked 2014 so far

We are well into the third quarter of 2014, and it is time to look back and see how the year fared for digital marketers in the country. The second most populous country in the world is beginning to make its presence feel in the world market, and the trends in the country so far will set the stage for future innovations in the field.

Here’s looking back at the year that has been from the perspective of a digital marketer in India and what the trends foretell about the time to come:

  • Internet and Facebook users now number in the million

    By the end of the first quarter of 2014 mobile Internet users in India numbered 155 million, and 80% of these were urban users. By June 2014, most of the internet traffic in the country had shifted to mobile devices with almost as much as 60% of all internet traffic being generated on mobile devices.

    In terms of social media, India reached a staggering 100 million Facebook users by mid-2014, a number that was officially acknowledged by Facebook. The USA leads the field with around 180 million users on Facebook but India is getting there slowly but surely. What’s even more heartening is the fact that the rise of Facebook users in rural areas has been steady and strong.

  • Digital campaigns make their mark

    The Valentine’s Day and Women’s Day campaigns were somewhat expected, but many other brands decided to use digital marketing in their campaigns this year. Among the companies that made good use of the Valentine fervor were Cornetto and Cadbury. Cornetto’s hashtag-campaign #DoSomethingCupid and Cadbury’s campaign with its signature #FirstLovels trended furiously on Twitter. Godrej Appliances launched a WOmen’s Day campaign that revolved around the urban, tech-savvy Indian woman.

    Twitter hashtags were the flavor of the season with twitter trends like HCL’s #CollestInterviewEver, VIP Skybag’s #BackIsTheNewFront, and Tropicana’s #BreakfastwithTropicana notching up new levels in marketing statistics. Lighthouse Insights, a digital marketing analysis company states that the number of Internet users in India who watch digital videos has gone up from 56% in 2008 to 75% in 2013. The market certainly has woken up to the challenge of catering to these new generation consumers and more digital campaigns and Twitter trends are surely in the offing.

  • Video is the new king

    The year has seen many campaigns use high-quality video content to engage users, and the best example is the Cadbury 5 Start #ConditionSeriousHai campaign. The campaign had a minute long viral video which was also used throughout the brand’s social media channels. Garnier Pure Active used comics as their medium to create a campaign that used scenes and dialogues from popular Indian movies. The campaign used a series of videos which were then shared on social media. Other popular video ads of the year include Titan’s ‘Joy of Gifting’ campaign, Old Spice’s ‘Mantastic’ campaign featuring Milind Soman, and Lay’s Best Buddy campaign.

Inbound activities that add weight to your B2B marketing strategy

In the words of Arjun Basu (of Squishy, Waiting for the Man, and 140-characters Twitter short stories fame); ” Without a strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.” When you draw up your B2B content marketing plan you need to ensure that you have a strategy that helps distinguish your ‘stuff’ from the rest of the clutter on the internet. This is where inbound marketing strategies can make a difference. There is a reason why more and more business leaders and marketers are incorporating these strategies into their integrated marketing plans. Inbound strategies help you approach the question of B2B content marketing in a methodical and cost-effective manner, aiding businesses in achieving their business goals and generating high-quality leads.

Using inbound tactics to grow your business

Inbound tactics can help your business gain credibility and generate new leads. Here are some useful tactics that you can use right away:

a) Creating content that is unique and varied

From white papers to technical presentations, you can use the net to create a storehouse of content. The objective should be to attract an audience with interesting content and then direct them to your website. The content can include blogs, web pages, graphics, images, video presentations, slide presentations, and press releases. The various content pieces should direct traffic to the website and the website design should be optimized for search. Create a website with many topical pages centered around the solutions and products your company provides. Such targeted pages do well on search with some SEO help. Updating these various content archives will help drive both new and repeat traffic to the site.

b) Use authentic research to optimize content

Keyword research can help a lot in making your content marketing success. There is no use in creating content that grabs no eyeballs and is not useful in driving traffic. Keyword research can help in optimizing content and targeting it towards the right demographic. This keyword research needs to be authentic and you may need to spend some time on it, but in the end, the results will be worth it. Once your keyword research is complete, the next step is to weave the keywords in the metadata in your website design. Use keywords in the page titles as well so visitors can know what the site is all about at the very first glance. If you are using a blog, do not forget to add categories and tags to the post.

c) Select your target audience and promote your content

Choose marketing strategies that are built around your content, and make sure to pitch to the right audience. Digital marketing tools, social media campaigns, and e-mail campaigns are de rigueur but you can also use lead forms on landing pages to convert web visitors to leads. For this, the web design and content on the landing page needs to be top notch so that the visitor is willing to give their contact details in exchange for access to the site.

The link between your web design and customer engagement

It is true that not all the visitors to your site would be well versed in the nuances of web designing to be able to tell how good or bad your site is from a technical viewpoint. But intuitively, even a layman knows a website that allows him ease of access and navigation from a site that is just too clunky and where nothing works. Your customer may not be able to tell serif from sans- but that is no excuse to not match your fonts! In fact, a huge percentage of your repeat traffic depends on how well you design your site.

There is more to creating a good web design than just putting things in the right place. Rules matter like the use of white space and the rule of quarters, but even surgical precision can fall flat if there is no depth and context to the design.

Some tips that may help you find the ‘X’ factor to wow your visitors are given below:

  • Remember, you are designing for a human

    It would indeed be a great world where robots did all the menial work, but for now, it is humans who use the net and humans who visit your site. Designing for members of the species Homo sapiens translates to an easy to use interface that focuses on people’s actions. Your website design needs to meld with the expectations of your customers. You cannot keep your user guessing about what he is supposed to do next.

    Make sure the ‘call to action’ buttons are right up front and users can see these buttons. Keep your design layout consistent so that users know where they are and where they need to go next. If this doesn’t happen, the user is most likely to find the exit and leave your site never to come back.

  • Have heart

    Surgical precision will only take your design so far. For a popular website, it is important that the design has a soul and an emotional depth. Use specific fonts, shapes, icons, and even images and photographs to convey the crux of your messages. If you are able to excite your user’s imagination and connect on an emotional level with the consumer then you have a greater chance of retaining your visitors.

    Let’s look at Apple for a second. The company spends a lot of time on their website making it look sleek and sexy – exactly the kind of attributes we associate with an Apple product. Even before the customer has bought a product he knows that he is making the right choice by opting for the coolest gadget there is. That is how factoring in emotions can work for your website design and influence your customer’s mindset.

The idea behind website designing should never be just to create something that looks good, but also to create a brand connection. So, forget the design nazis and think like a user – it is easily the best way to design a winning website

Boosting Brand Presence on Social Media-(Infographic)

Social media marketing has become a dicey space for many brands. While almost all of them have accepted social media marketing as the next goal post to focus on, none of them have any idea how to. A couple of infographics, a few vague and superficial tweets every day, a promoted contest once in a while, and brands think they’ve cracked the nut out of the shell. Once in a while, every brand throws up a sporadic surprise – Oreo’s Superbowl Blackout tweet or Sony’s Pinterest Charity campaign – but those are few and far in between.

Changing Definitions

The general understanding of Social Media amongst most brand is that regularly updating something about yourself and a few promoted posts here and there will create enough buzz around the brand. Social Media is a different space. People don’t necessarily come here to buy, they have to be provoked to or led to buying your products. And the only way of making that happen is to create some value about your brand – and this does not necessarily have anything to do with the products or services you have on offer.

Here are 3 easy ideas to get your brand going and running on social media:

  • Dynamic Content Ideas

Yes, you need to have a content plan in place … well in advance. Still, keep your content dynamic. Don’t stick to a template of posting arbitrary information about your brand or product. Be quick, topical, and witty. Attune your content with current trends and news. See how you can marry your brand-related content to trending keywords. Jump onto the bandwagon, there’s no harm in that. Even if you cannot find a way to wrap your brand around a certain trend or news, go ahead with just the trend or news. Sometimes, underplaying makes the brand appear a lot more human. It shows you care and are not here just to sell but to connect.

  • Incite Engagement

Let us face it, nobody visits social media platforms to give their reading hobby a larger canvas. They have blogs or still better good ol’ libraries for that. Social Media is a very quick medium. The content shouldn’t be too long to bore the user, but neither should it be too short to be forgettable. If you want them to read and see your content, the only plausible way of getting that done is to get the user to share it. Social media users want to build an image for themselves on these platforms – smart, intellectual, philosophical, witty, etc. Play to that pattern. Give them content that will help them build their social image and provoke involvement. The number of users shares your content, the number of people will be talking about you.

  • Build a Community

Google started it way before online communities were the rage. Photos depicting Google’s dorm-room office culture are cult favorites around the internet. General Electric in recent years took to Instagram, and later Vine to give a behind-the-scenes sneak peak to its fans. This goes a long way in building a community of loyal fans online. Make your brand appear, human, not a corporate robot box. Engage with the customers. Address their complaints. Airlines have used Twitter to great effect to address baggage and service complaints. Deleting negative customer feedback without addressing the issue and satisfying the customer will harm your brand like nothing else. Remember – the Internet is an unforgiving place.

Content brings in fans. But fans stay with trust. Build an aura of trust and quality around your brand see your brand soar the digital skies.