Between the Tech and the Aesthetic

With my day job I have one foot in the more technical web side of things while the other foot sits firmly in the graphic design side. It can be a challenging balance sometimes as I struggle to make sure that what I produce is both functional and visually pleasing, if not compelling.

On the one hand, a particular creative element has to be usable and fit within the technical parameters of a website or email (proper HTML, SEO-friendly, etc.) so it can perform well and contribute to the sales generated from its use. On the other, the creative element needs to be appealing and “cool” to enhance the experience of the user so that it will perform well and contribute to the sales generated from its use. It has to do both to be successful.

Taking a step back from the real world case of my job and looking more conceptually, knowing that the perfect mix of the tech and the aesthetic is ideal, which is more important? There is certainly value to each and each contributes in their own way towards the overall success of the site/email/advertisement/what-have-you.

I don’t have a definitive solution to this, but I think your average person is looking more for something that is aesthetically pleasing and works and, further, if it works but isn’t visually stimulating it will be dismissed – unless, of course, it works so well that the visual can be excused.

Maybe it’s just because I’m more graphic by nature but it seems to me that people are more likely to respond to a creative that draws them in rather ┬áthan something that is more utilitarian. Areas of plain text on a plain background are often necessary and can be a critical part of communicating the message and there are situations where “less is more” and a simplistic design lends itself better than a flashy one. But just as often, I would argue, it is beneficial to integrate the information into the graphic elements to give the viewer/consumer a more complete experience.

Obviously, the most important thing is to communicate information in a meaningful way to your audience. How that information is shared is critical to how the recipient responds. But what is the best way to do that? IS there a “best” way to do that? I’m sure there isn’t. It has to be case-by-case and it has to be done with the audience in mind. And the balance between the tech and the aesthetic has to shift accordingly.

What are your thoughts? How have you dealt with finding that balance?

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