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Cutting through the cool trends

Posted by: Marc

Blog Image (Jamie)

By Jamie Hamilton from Conversion Foundry

Jamie Hamilton is a Web Design Consultant with Conversion Foundry, he creates web based visual designs and solutions for clients and brands. Jamie has contributed a blog for The Talent Hive followers, sharing his experience, approach to design and the importance of delivering what the client has asked for.

Cutting through the cool trends

Imagine standing in the middle of a square in Tokyo with all those flashing billboards and neon signs around you. It can be hard to focus on one single thing amongst the blur and the clutter. The one board that’s going to stand out, that’s really going to stick in your mind, is one that has a simple, clear, compelling message.

That’s what I aim for with website design. I want to be the one website out of thousands that people remember. These days, internet users are becoming a lot smarter and more mature about web content. There’s so much out there online already that people have become bored of a lot of things. Been there, seen that.

Rather than focus on what’s the ‘cool trend’ right now, a designer needs to get the client’s message out there as clearly and eloquently as possible so it will stick in people’s minds.

I’ve been a visual/ interactive designer for 14 years now. I started off working in a large brand agency in Auckland creating CD Rom content and 3D modelling. Then, as things moved away from offline into online, I began working with HTML, HTML5 and Java Script.

Now, I work at the Conversion Foundry in Christchurch helping clients create a design which “delights and attracts” people to perform a certain task. That task- what we call conversion- can be anything from signing up to something, to buying something, to contacting the company. What a great design does is to get people to intuitively convert by creating conversion pathways. That’s what I’m after.

I like to tailor the visual aesthetic very specifically to the client and their industry. When we’ve got a new client I sit down with them and talk to them about their business and what they’re trying to achieve. I research competing websites to see what other people are doing in the space and then I come up with a design that I think is going to best represent that brand.  It’s about getting the key messages out there in most straight-forward manner, while still making it interesting and ‘selling the sizzle’.

In my field, the biggest failing you can have is if the design doesn’t match the client. This usually happens when the designer hasn’t listened to the client – their greatest asset – and instead focuses on what is a visual trend right now.

I believe the design industry operates on a two-year cycle of visual trends where you tend to see the same thing popping up in a lot of work. It’s like designers are trying to take those trends and force them on the client because it’s ‘cool’ rather than looking at what is best for the client.

That’s not to say designers shouldn’t keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry. I think as a designer it’s essential to follow blogs and magazines which showcase designers and learn the latest trends are. But at the same time rather than copying those trends directly, you need to use it to develop your own skills and personal style. Instead of using a new brush I’ve found on the internet, I’ll use a real life brush to paint something and scan it onto the computer.

It’s a fine line between staying up to date with trends and creating useful solutions which actually work for your client. I believe the greatest inspiration for designers come not on the computer but by looking at the visual world around you. One designer I know is really into scrapbooking. She will be walking down the road, find a leaf she likes, put in her scrapbook and then that will inspire her texturally. I love that approach. That’s going to create a design that’s unique. That’s a design that’s going to stand out in a Tokyo square.

Conversion Foundry are a specialist online marketing and conversion optimisation company. They architect and optimise websites that make great first impressions, connect with the right people and convert them into customers.

Conversion Foundry have a team of experts in SEO, AdWords, Design and User Experience.  They use a collaborative approach to optimise websites from all angles, ensuring steady traffic growth and return on investment.

Categorised as: IT