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Digital Design: The Goal is Still Engagement


It’s hard to believe I’ve been designing for the web for almost ten years. During the last decade, I’ve certainly seen trends come and go. However, the one constant that has emerged is the critical need for visitor engagement.




Ongoing Client Education


Throughout my career, one of the biggest challenges has been educating clients that a custom website design is well worth the time and money. It is an indisputable fact that the more intriguing the site, the better the chances of engagement. The difference between having a “web presence” and engaging an audience is enormous.




To create a truly memorable site visitor experience, the key is to discover what they really want to know so you can provide an interaction guided by their needs that encourages them to return to the site to consume additional content.  


Let’s Get Engaged


Unless the website’s sole purpose is to represent an online brochure, today’s number one requirement is that your website should be highly engaging so visitors will be anxious to return often to see what’s new and exciting. If one of the success metrics for the new site is the length of time visitors spend there, you must interest them in your content, and provide an intuitive way for them to access all the important information contained there.


At the sitemap level, good “flow” is not a trend; it is the most important ingredient in the recipe for an excellent user experience. No matter what content you’re presenting or what products you are selling, if the user has to hunt for the info, they are most likely to simply leave the site.  



No Compromise Zone


At SSDM, our clients require us to act as their business partner and counselor, so we can’t compromise, as that is the road to mediocrity. The only way to truly counsel our clients is to stand our ground when recommending best practices. These include, at least:

  • Optimization and usability
  • User-friendly CTAs
  • Typography hierarchy and content breaks
  • Trustworthy, relevant content
  • Mobile-first approach



Personalization is the New Goal

Once you have the site visitor’s attention, you’ll want to collect information that allows you to personalize their next experience, again with the end-goal being interest and engagement. Most personalization requires that we walk a fine line between invasion of privacy and connecting with visitors at their level of interest. Surveys and questionnaires are a great way to make visitors appreciate the fact that their opinion is important and when questions are properly phrased, they can provide a considerable amount of information for a more personalized experience.


Sometimes personalization takes the form of dynamic content, and if the budget allows, this is the very best way to form a stronger connection with your site’s visitors, presenting content that has essentially been “chosen” by them.


What are You Selling?


For an e-commerce website, personalization is no longer an optional item, it’s a necessity. By understanding precisely what the buyer is seeking, the total purchase experience can be greatly enhanced when a savvy website serves up the most perfect suggestions during the consideration phase of the purchase.



Marketing First


Another “trend” that is now just a fact, is the requirement to design with a marketing-first approachAt SSDM, we continually tap into the industry drumbeat, listening to podcasts, attending webcasts and conferences … and no matter what’s “trending,” the consensus is that a marketing-first design is still the best approach for engagement.



Our teams never stop searching for best practices and due to our collaborative nature, we share new-found knowledge with each other at every opportunity. Our motto is “grow yourself to grow others,” and by devoting ourselves to continuing education and improvement, we can be true to ourselves while enlightening our clients and providing world-class direction for their website projects.