We have been talking a lot within our office lately about web marketing. One of the conversation starters was from an email from Aaron Brown asking each of us for our picks for the “5 Best Investments for Your Marketing Budget.” It was interesting to here the responses to that question. Not surprisingly, with my passion for design, my answers were weighted heavily in favor of investing your web marketing in design. Chadd’s responses understandably emphasized SEO. I jokingly told him, “Design isn’t in your top 5? That sounds like a fatal mistake to me.”

I know firsthand that Chadd definitely does value good design. His answer wasn’t a putdown to design, but rather an understanding of how people invest their money. Whey you have X amount of money in your website marketing plan you have to prioritize and rationalize how every dollar gets spent. You have to convince yourself that after your website marketing money is spent you can look back and see concrete results that are equal or greater than the initial investment. Design is notoriously hard to measure concretely and that makes it a tough thing to convince people to invest in. But allow me to try…

Believe it or not it is possible to measure and evaluate the ROI of design just as concretely as you can with seemingly less nebulous areas such as keyword research, SEO, analytics, and publicity. While design as a whole can seem like an abstract and fuzzy concept to invest in, it gets easier when you can assign goals to the project. For example, spending $5,000 to improve the design of your website has the feeling of being subjective and arbitrary. It might feel like you are just sprucing up a site that has grown stale. While some designers do take this “jazz it up” approach, we think about design much more strategically here at Red Rocket Media Group. At the heart of good design is a problem solving mentality. Instead of asking “how does this looK?” we design with a more valuable question in mind: “What impact will these changes have on the effectiveness of the site?”

Once you look at design as a way to solve specific problems it becomes much easier to justify budgeting for design in your web marketing plan. So instead of using the broad term of “design,” try to add real goals to describe outcome you would like to achieve with your website. By addressing actual problems that you want to solve you take design out of the subjective realm and into the practical world.

In the next few weeks I am going to address some of the practical ways that design can solve real issues for your website. Specifically I am going to address how:

1. Good design can increase your conversion rates.

2. Good design can improve the credibility of your company.

3. Good design can increase the quality of your products.

As you finalize your website marketing plan I hope that you aren’t too quick to dismiss design as something worthy of your investment. With so many people cutting back on their web marketing budgets, investing in design could be just the edge you need to stand out from your competition.

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