Peter Whent

September 10, 2023

You're perfect, let's get married

Tom spotted Tracey from Tinder as soon as she walked into the restaurant.

As she reached his table, he stood up to greet her.

But before he could say a word, she placed her index finger on his lips, as if to say, “Don’t speak”.

She took a step backwards, and with wide eyes she drank in the vision before her.

Her heart raced and the words fell from her lips as if she no longer had any control.

“That jacket that’s custom-built for game-changers. It’s slim fit accentuates your shoulders and gives you a classic style“.

“Those trousers. Generously cut, handsome tailored, that move you from the boardroom to a night out with ease”.

“And those “step-out-on-the town” shoes with the cushioned inner sole”.

“You’re perfect. We must get married”.

That night they made love (Tom still hadn’t spoken).

Two weeks later they were married at Chelsea Registry Office.

They honeymooned on The French Riviera, before moving to a small cottage on The Isle of Wight with a picket fence.

They had three children, who gave them countless grandchildren.

They grew old together and lived happily ever after.

What a beautiful story.

Of course, it never happened.

Designing miracles in Canva

Every day somewhere on Planet Earth, a business leader is trying to pull off the same miracle that Tom managed.

They’re trying to find their Tracey.

Someone who will look at their web site and say:

“That shade of red. It’s power is hard to overstate”.

“That carousel. The one that makes me wait 45 second to see all the images. As I wait with bated breath, time seems to stand still in a magical way”.

“And that newsletter opt-in form that slides in after ten seconds. The timing is genius”.

“I can think of no other company I want to spend a large amount of my budget with”.

When his company built their web site, in pursuit of this miracle Tom spent days obsessing about the design.

Because the power of a web site is all in its design right?

Clutching his cold cup and a thick wad of post-it notes, he puts his design team into full artybollocks mode.

A new web site is not a design challenge, it’s a messaging project.

Click to Tweet

They hope what results is a design so compelling that no-one has a choice but to contact them and find a way to do business together.

Meanwhile no-one has given one second of thought or allocated a penny of investment to the words.

The web site ends up on page 3,254 of Google and the phone never rings.

Tom gets fired and moves to the Isle of Wight.

Here’s the lesson of this Mills and Boone page-turner.

A new web site is not a design challenge, it’s a messaging project.

The same is true of any initiative to present your company to the outside world.

People don’t notice design.

They go weak at the knees for the words.

Everyone remembers the words in the iPod ad, “A tool for your heart. A thousands songs in your pocket”.

But who remembers what the imagery was, or the background colour? Answer: almost no-one.

Messaging trumps design.

Words trump pictures.

Every time.

If you liked this article...

Then you're going to love my sensationally arsey newsletter, 

Dear Misfits

Nearly 2,000 cool kids inject it directly into their veins each week to learn how to write stop and stare messaging like Don Fucking Draper. Sign up below.