I have begun to see an uncanny resemblance between what a book cover means to a book, and what a website means for business. Your website is the personality of the business. Just like clothes are to a person. It elicits certain expectations. It introduces a tone, an attitude, even when these don’t fit in the business. It can seduce the viewer, or betray him or her. Like Gold tinsel, it’s glitter can deceive.
The website confers not one, but two identities to a business. It introduces an expressive element distinct from that of the text. There is what the business says, and what the website says. That is why one can love the website, and hate the business, or vice versa. This is why more often than not, we have all downloaded apps just based on the website, and neither used it enough, nor have a positive opinion on it. It’s just because the website was irresistible.
Outsourcing website design resides on an important element – the designers should thoroughly understand the business. Otherwise, the design is just an attachment in the email, which you sign off on, or not, or perhaps ask for a few changes. As a founder, it is difficult to critique a design from someone you know doesn’t understand or appreciate what you are trying to do.
In an essay titled “The Einaudi Covers” (“Le coper tine Einaudi”), published in the collection Un song del Nord (A Dream of the North), she analyses and evaluates the covers of her primary publishing house. She writes: “Because I come from painting, the look of the book is not just an intriguing element but something fundamental. It is very hard to love an ugly book, often all the more ugly because it wants to be beautiful.”
Book covers are not as simple as they used to be. These days book covers contain a lot of information beyond the title of the book, the name of the author, and a design It lists past awards and donors, quotes from critics and other writers who have liked the book, information about best-seller lists. Books covers have become a label that lists the ingredients. Book publishers have put up unreasonable expectations from a book cover. A good book cover must grab and win the attention of the deed and disoriented brokers in big bookstores, who must plug this book, and this book only, from the overstuffed shelves. All this energy and strategy boils down to a depressing fact – a terrifying number of books published in the world every year, and yet only a handful of them are bought and read.
A website for a business goes through the same ordeal as well, marked with similar approaches that designers use. Take a look at any one-page template, and you’ll see it all – testimonials, three top features, a hero image at the top, about us, contact us – the works.
A website should have a visual impact, which is strong enough to get through the customer – even if they don’t understand or read the text. Having said that, there are no perfect websites. Just like there is no perfect book cover. The great majority of covers, like our clothes, don’t last forever. They make sense, give pleasure, in only a specific arc of time, after which they are dated. Over the years they need a redesign, change like old translations. A website to a business, just a new jacket to a book reinvigorates it, to make it more current. The only part left intact is the original text of a book or the core services of a business.
With that, let me get to the website design for Albert Pinto 🙂