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S E P T E M B E R
k o n k i d i g i t a l . c o m PRETTY FUNCTIONAL Looking back, I was very lucky compared to a lot of kids. I had two parents who always encouraged me to explore my creative side, and who were more than supportive when I decided to make that side of myself into a career. In my time teaching visual design at the University of Tennessee, I’ve met plenty of talented students who’ve had to fight tooth and nail to justify their art degree to their mom and dad. I wish those parents could’ve seen just how valuable those creative skills are in today’s online world. As an adjunct at UT, part of my challenge is getting students to see the science within the art of visual design and vice versa. The class attracts an interesting cross section of majors, including fine arts undergraduates and MBA hopefuls. Thanks to these mixed interests and perspectives, I see students make the same mistakes designers and business owners do in the real world. It all comes down to striking that balance between pretty and functional. One of the hardest parts of teaching art and graphic design students is getting them to realize that just because a webpage looks amazing, doesn’t mean it will actually sell anything. Getting those creative minds to make their ideas more functional for businesses can be a real struggle, but so is the reverse situation. Many marketing and business majors turn in initial projects that may as well be Word documents stating, “Buy our products, please!” They undervalue the pop and flare you need to get people interested in your services.
The Balancing Act of Web Design
I’ve seen plenty of real-world examples of these two extremes in play, and neither are good. Some businesses go all in on beautiful, unique, expensive websites that are absolutely impossible to navigate, while others still have the same bland homepage they designed in 2008. Striking the right balance is hard but far from impossible. Our team just went through the process ourselves with the launch of KonkiDigital.com.
Much like we’d done during our rebrand, we got the whole team together and treated the
“One of the hardest parts of
process just like we would for a client. How would this new website capture the energy of our company? In what ways would it be unique to us? What
teaching art and graphic design students is getting them to realize that just because a webpage looks amazing, doesn’t mean it will actually sell anything.”
tools would make it easy for users to find exactly
what they were looking for? Finding answers to each of these questions was a challenge but more than paid off. My best advice to those looking to launch or revamp their website is to go through this same process. Look for designs that fit your company’s personality and business goals. Then, be willing to adjust as time goes on — there’s always room for subjectivity, but, by being open to what’s working and what’s not, you can find that balance between pretty and functional.
ELIZABETH SAWINSKI SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT + DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE SERVICES SCOTT SPAID PRESIDENT + CHIEF PROJECT MANAGER
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