The Conversion Designer as Marriage Counselor

The relationship between a marketer and a designer can be tricky. By function, they should be symbiotic in existence – marketing needs design to visually convey the messaging marketing is responsible for, and design needs marketing to integrate the pieces that design is responsible for. By experience, however, design and marketing can be quite caustic for two reasons:

  1. Marketers tend to like to play designer too much, providing too many inputs, thereby reducing the designer to a de facto “color between the lines” person.
  2. Designers tend to eschew the advice of the marketer because of reason #1.

Today, as always, issues of style, authority, and subjective preference occupy the attention of too many and distract us from the essentials of our responsibilities. So what do you do? Fortunately, the relationship between a designer and marketer can be rhythmic and impactful. If conversion design is the marriage counselor of marketing and design then as conversion designers, our role is to bridge communication gaps. The key is to focus communication on three fundamental categories that contribute to conversion design:

  • Size – Contrast in size is closely tied to human perception. The extremes of big and small are useful to size because everyone understands what the extreme implies.
  • Color – Contrast in color helps the buyer build an affinity with the components of the page – graphical, textual or interactive. The color contrast demonstrates the personality of the message of which the color is tied to.
  • Positioning – Elements must not be organized haphazardly. Content must be positioned in an intelligent manner as defined by the information hierarchy.


Let’s use a real-life case study to illustrate these attributes at work.

This is an example of one of our clients who is developing a community site. The wireframe looked like this:



After we transferred the wireframe to the designer, the designer came back with this:


Here, the design took direction from the wireframe without imbibing it with the design elements we knew would be necessary for its target personas to be attracted to. We centered our feedback on size, color, and contrast. Here’s the direct feedback we gave with a few pieces of information blocked:

The brand and color scheme aren’t achieving what we need to. A few notes on both:

  1. Brand – the logo does not match the in-store look of XX. Keep in mind that this is a multi-channel campaign so we will have to integrate the pieces. I’d rather have that same XX-type font used as YesiTAN – perhaps stylized a bit more but not too much. I’d rather it not veer too much since YesiTAN, much like XX is a proclamation, a self-assertion that is proud and strong. The logo should match that individualistic, self-expressionistic view point.
  2. Color Scheme – at this conjuncture, the colors are way too much like the corporate site. This cannot happen. Moreover, the photos we had in XX are black and white. What type of message does it send when the site is colorful and the photos aren’t? If anything, I’d like to see the site in black-and-white and the photos of the participants to be in color. This would convey that attributes we need to convey.

Overall, the site is a site for the individuals who tan and are PROUD of it. It is self-expressionistic. It is raw, not too colorful – because it is the people who tan, themselves, who are colorful.


The designer was able to organize those inputs in sizing, color, and positioning. One revision later, this is what we received:


Here, there is a clear hierarchy of importance among the page elements and a more compelling contrast of colors and positioning. Important information is contrasted by size and color, and actionable elements have a common color to communicate that they are closely associated and have a common purpose. With a quick scan, users can grasp which information is vital and what to do once they’re convinced this initiative resonates with them.

To Close

Overall, the purpose of conversion design is to exploit natural human tendencies. Getting marketing and design on the same page and grounding conversation (and collaboration) in size, color, and positioning will maximize the effect of crafting an effective information hierarchy and define the order in which your users/buyers/consumers will consume content. This, my friends, is the key to a happy marriage indeed.

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