Marketing: The Missing Step in the Design Process

Marketing and the design process

Marketing. Most people sorta shudder just at the word. Look around online, people and companies are afraid to say they do marketing without speaking about it in context. Not “marketing”, but “web marketing”.

And there are only two possible reasons why this is: (1) People don’t want to be a pure marketer, (2) They want to be seen as an action-based marketer. They don’t do marketing, they do SEO or AdWords or banner placements, or social networking…. anything except, you know… marketing.

As the owner of a marketing company, I come up against the Bill Hicks way of thinking about marketing: that our job is to sell bad products at expensive prices to people who don’t need them. That’s why Bill has the famous comedy bit titled “Marketers… kill yourselves”.

But both Bill Hicks and the companies who market themselves as action-based marketers miss the whole point of marketing.

Marketing is all about message clarity.

When I was giving the speech on UX Trends and Tools last week at the Internet Summit I realized something mid-speech. We were talking about the typical design process:

1. Needs/Goals
2. Specs
3. Information Architecture
4. Interaction Architecture
5. Graphic Design
6. Coding, Testing, QA

We discussed how to turn that into a user-centered design process by talking to your user during each step and by adding one more step:

7. Data collection, analysis, and iteration

Here’s the 64-thousand dollar question: Where is the message developed?

The way I see it, presently, it doesn’t exist. There’s no place for marketing to come in to develop the messaging. I would start the design process like this:

1. Needs/goals
2. Interview customers
3. Develop messaging
4. Test messaging
5. Information Architecture
6. Interaction Architecture
7. Graphic Design
8. Coding, Testing, QA
9. Data collection, analysis, and iteration

Messaging is the hidden art. When looking at the 6 Things Your Homepage Must Do (to Keep From Sucking), the first item is “speak the users language”. If we don’t stop to create the message and to develop the copy, when are we supposed to develop the messaging specifically for your audience? Leave it up to the graphic designer? Unlikely.

Remember, if you’re not solving the right problem and appealing to your customer in the right way, you’re missing out on substantial sales.

2 comments on “Marketing: The Missing Step in the Design Process

  1. Wow great read! One important thing to get from this is that marketers need to speak the users language so they could relate to the product!

Leave a Reply