Jill Chase, Art Director of the Go Dog Design Group givea us the benefit of her 15 years in design. Jill started her graphic design career in publishing where she learned paper engineering for pop-up books. This rare talent developed into a unique perspective for designing product packaging. She has had the opportunity to apply her fresh approach to design and marketing to brands such as Power Rangers, Terminator and Family Guy.
Today, people talk about branding in in such a broad way. It is no longer solely the concern of companies selling cereal, sneakers and toys. I’ve heard teen age girls refer to re-branding themselves for the start of high school. It’s become a part of our vernacular. Much thought goes into creating an identity. Clients go to design firms and marketing agencies to gain from their expertise on logo and packaging design, in order to develop a visual language that should carry through everything the consumer might come in contact with. Then WHY does that same company end up with such a bad website?
I have a couple of theories on this:
First, I think that designing the front end ( the look, feel and function) and the back end (coding to make it real) of a website use very different parts of the brain. Design is a right brain function, and web coding is engineering and is left brain. Have you ever seen an engineer fix something around the house? It might function perfectly but have pipes or wires outside the wall or use unattractive parts that don’t exactly go with your decorating scheme. Function but no form. Rarely are both skill sets found in one person or organization. Too many people who claim to design websites are technicians who don’t possess the design sensitivity one wants to cary on your brand image.
Second, there are so many "do it yourself", web templates out there. People can call themselves a web designer with very little up font effort. They can just shoe-horn your design elements into an existing template. The result of this is usually an inelegant site with bad typography and little continuity to your carefully thought-out brand identity.
Third, web fashions evolve. A site that seemed great 10 years ago might seem clunky and dated today. Making sure your brand evolves with the times is important in keeping it fresh.
I think the solution is to keep it all in one house. Do your homework and select a design firm with the capabilities to cover all of your needs. You will be much better off in the end. My theory is that a designer (or design firm) that specializes in design first but does web sites will go the extra mile to hire or consult the right tech people to execute their design vision perfectly, no mater what. They are protecting their design baby. A web designer who was not involved with all the thought and process that went into putting together your brand will not be as invested. They are unlikely to realize that they are falling short of your carefully cultivated brand look.
For many brands a website is where a first impression is made. Is your website the weak link in your branding portfolio?