There are many services, which are grabbing our potential clients’ attention, with services like WIX, Squarespace and WordPress. They are getting easier to use, cheaper and they also do stunning responsive design.

But that is it.

These platforms have themes, and these themes follow web trends. This does not mean these trends and themes fit with our client’s business objectives, their brand, or their users' goals. How can you be sure that these flat design themes will help boost the audience engagement time and help channel leads?

To put it simple, choosing a theme on preference is making an uninformed decision.

If you want to do something custom, it’s impossible. Building a brand on a confine of a theme or confines of a plugin is like having the dream of your tract home to stand out, but you only have IKEA vouchers.

Creating Data-Driven Design Will Keep You Valuable.

We’re in the business of adding actual value. Anyone in this business knows design isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about solving problems.

Designer and entrepreneur, Sarah Parmenter, said at a session from the Future of Web Design, London; “Being able to design with data is what going to keep us valuable. The one thing these services can’t replace is our knowledge of the stupid things stupid humans do” .

So start backing up your decisions and start creating lasting value. You don’t have to be a designer to make good design decisions. You just need to learn to ask “why”.

Data-Driven Design is the Most Relevant Design.

In 1966, Bill Gates published a essay titled “Content is King”. Bill was absolutely right, content is King. The most popular online application in the world today are the ones which we populate the web with more content. Instagram, YouTube, Facebook… you get it.

But think about this.

On Instagram you pick the content that comes on your feed, content that is most relevant to your interests, your likes, your hobbies. You pick who you follow, then Instagram ‘suggest’ similar accounts. Then your feed grows and grows and you never stop scrolling. Next thing you know it’s 3am and you realize you haven’t blinked in the last two and half hours. You stay there because it’s relevant and interesting to you.

Instagram has collected data on you, they know what you like and dislike. I don’t want to see images of American Football on my feed! No way, I hate American football, it’s lazy rugby. If I saw this stuff, I probably stop scrolling way before my bedtime. But Instragam has done its research, it’s collected its data, and so, no American Football shows on my feed and I keep using the app at inappropriate times.

Designing with Data for the Web is Exactly the Same.

Making your content relevant and compelling to your user, will keep them coming back. This means more leads, more bookings, more sales. How do you know this content is relevant and completing to the user? Your only know the answers to the question if you do your research first.

Data first, Designing Second.

This is why at Malone, our methodology is Data is Queen & Content is King. And if you watch The Crown on Netflix, the Queen always walks first. So do your research first. Let me repeat that, research must come first and be the first step in the process.

Start your process with collecting as much data as you find. The more data you collect, the clearer picture you can create of who you're designing for. Really dig deep into the brand or company you are working for.

One trick we like to do is to see what current customer are saying about the brand. Think; yelp, testimonials, google reviews or even trip advisors, to find a common theme. Create personas, gather data from analytic platforms, and ask the question, who are already interacting with the brand? And then get to know them.

For instance, let's take a redesign for a hair salon in the heart of Canterbury for an example. Canterbury is notorious for being a student city. After research and collecting data, we discovered the current regular clientele, was 40-60-year-old women. Not students.

This meant, making the decision not to have the cool hipster girl with blue hair as the hero image. Maybe save that image for the Offer page, put it next to shinny 20% off for students. Let’s try and make the main content relevant for both audiences rather than excluding the business’s bread and butter.

Let’s Start Adding Lasting Value.

These supercharged blogging platforms have their place. They can solve some time and cost issues, they’re an easy to use platform for content sites, like blogs, which need to be updated regularly. However, they will never evolve from their basic default template. What you have is a collection of website deisgns that look templatized and they all look the same.

Put the time to collect data and do the research. Because, it could spark something in your design process that could solve a problem you never even knew was there.