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Charli Marie

Why you SHOULDN’T focus on data

published2 months ago
3 min read

Hey Reader,

Today I have a few follow-up thoughts from issue 82 where I wrote about outcomes vs output and why it’s important for us as designers to understand the impact our work is having.

In making this mindset shift, it could be easy to start to focus TOO much on the metrics we’re moving week-by-week with new landing pages or ad designs. So today I’m sharing some thoughts on the times when you shouldn’t just do what the data tells you…

Balancing short term vs long term impact

Data can be addictive. When you realise that the impact of your design work can be measured with raw numbers and interesting charts, it’s easy to obsess over daily or weekly movements in the metrics.

Have you been there? Have you ever shipped a change to a marketing website or launched a new campaign then felt compelled to refresh the dashboards as data flows in to see how the new designs are performing? While this desire to be data-informed should definitely be celebrated, I need to share a few words of warning too.

Firstly, sometimes the impact of your work won’t be felt for a long time. This is especially true for brand-building projects that aim to shift brand perception and build a reputation. These kind of efforts tend to be cumulative; they combine with other outputs to create a joint impact. And, barring any PR disasters, moving the needle on brand perception doesn’t generally happen overnight.

If you make a small change to the visual brand to increase perceived quality or strengthen its appeal within a certain target audience, you’re not likely to see the numbers shift wildly in next weeks performance report. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action on making these brand improvements. Because if you continue with this new better-aligned better-quality direction you’ll hope to see the impact building over time, months (or even years) down the track. Just because something doesn’t have a short-term impact, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing for the long-term.

Your second word of warning is that sometimes there will be ways to drive short-term results that could negatively impact the long-term. Think pop-ups interrupting an experience or cramming in every detail possible in the header space on a website; these might increase the results of a short-term promotion, but if you use them too often they’ll lower the perception of quality and even trust in the brand.

Sometimes as designers we have to make compromises for the sake of short-term gains and put that extra link in “above the fold” or make the logo bigger… but it’s our job as custodians of the brand to consider the impact these things will have on the long-term too. It’s a delicate balance to strike, and if we become too enamoured with watching charts go up and to the right; it’s one that we can easily get wrong.

As designers data should inform our decisions; but not make them for us. Weighing the short-term impact vs the long-term allows us to drive results with our work in the coming months as well as in the coming years; building strong brands and quality websites that convert.

What do you think?

Is there such a thing as too much focus on data? Do you equally balance the short-term and the long-term? Or put more attention on one or the other?

Reply to this email and share your thoughts! I’m currently writing about this topic in my book so I’d love to learn more about how you think about data.

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Why investing time in design documentation is worth it

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Watch the latest episode of Inside Marketing Design to learn about design at subscription payments tool Chargebee. Design manager Shakthi Hari shared his philosophy on design documentation and why the Chargebee team values time spent on writeups and docs.

You’ll also hear about the work that’s happening on the Chargbee marketing site design system (I picked up a bunch of tips!)

If listening on a podcast is more your thing, search for Inside Marketing Design in your favorite podcast app or head to the website right here.

I did some damage in the Black Friday sales, y’all. There’s a new microphone arm on my desk and a couple of new camera lenses making their way to me… 🙊 In my defence, they were on my list for a while so i was purely taking advantage of the sales!

Hope you had a good weekend (and perhaps saved a few bucks yourself!)