Pretty or Powerful?

In his blog of 6th May, Seth Godin argued that pretty websites are rarely as effective as ‘unpretty’ ones when it comes to converting visitors.
He suggests that if the goal for your website is positioning, storytelling, and clarifying what kind of brand you are then ‘pretty’ may be the best way to go, and you should then measure it by the impact it creates.
But he maintains that it is a mistake to expect a pretty website to generate clicks & cash.
I’m sure there are examples to counter this argument, but on the whole, I’m inclined to agree. The real point of his post is that it’s best to acknowledge the conflict at the beginning of the design process and choose rather than keep hoping for the miracle site that will achieve both.
When helping our clients develop new websites the question we always start with is “what do you want it to do for your business?” or “Imagine you have a perfect website; what does it look like, what does it do and how do people use it?”
Think about your business plan, marketing strategy and what you need to do to create new customers, or get more from existing customers. Then work out what part you need the website to play. At the same time, consider how you will measure the performance of your website – how will you know if it is doing what you need?
Of course, a website can do more than one thing, but it really helps to work out what is the most important task, focus on that and then add in the other roles for the site. It’s usually better to do one thing well, than two things half as well!