Website design vs online marketing

By on Aug 24, 2013 in Site

Every business owner, and especially owners of small, agile businesses like ours, needs to be involved in their own social media marketing. That’s why my colleague, the Topical Writer, and I both spend time maintaining the content on our company blog, aXent Associates. Here’s a post I shared recently, explaining why I believe website design and online marketing are two very different things indeed.

Design is NOT marketing

It's allabout getting found

It’s allabout getting found

Drawing is in my blood. In fact, I’ve sometimes thought that instead of blood, I have paint flowing through my arteries. More than that, layout design has been a driving factor for as long as I can remember. Some people (with unkind motives and a lack of dishonesty) call it OCD. I call it “an eye for design”.

Looks matter to me. Things must be beautiful.

When we moved to Durban all those years ago, my goal was to start a web and graphic design company, and I did. I created stunning, eye-catching websites for a range of clients. I made flyers and posters. I designed my butt off.

I am also a published and award-winning* creative writer, so I did all my own writing, too. As far as I was concerned, I was offering the full package.

I wasn’t.

It wasn’t long before my clients became disgruntled, and I changed tack, focusing on producing the beautiful art, rather than creating it. And I threw myself into research. What had I done wrong? What was my mistake? Why did the marketing I’d created not work for it’s living?

Why my designs weren’t creating conversions for my clients

It didn’t take me long to find my mistake, and perhaps it’s one you’ve made, as well. The design was not the problem. It was the content. Or rather – it was the lack of content. What I discovered all those years ago is that it doesn’t matter how great your writing is, content marketing – especially online – is a special skill. It’s a skill that will probably come naturally to our children, but for most of us, us Digital Immigrants, it’s something we have to learn over time.

Once I paired my design skills with those of an accomplished writer with the ability to write marketing copy for the web, we began to see results. Our clients can testify to that, and you will, too, when you take advantage of our services.

You see, the truth of the matter is that design is not marketing. The marketing is the content. Whether it’s cleverly worded and engaging prose that makes your clients want what you have, or the genius of a few Spartan lines against a dramatic backdrop, content is not just KING, content is the kingdom, the domain over which we have mastery. Beautiful design, perfect SEO and rich social media are the struts that support the kingdom.

Vanessa Davies is the illustrious Senior Designer and business owner at aXent Associates. Online marketing, home education, blogging, optimal nutrition and personal growth are high on her list of priorities. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter or Google+.

Now we build powerful marketing strategies focused on content that serves to achieve your goals, and supported by the marketing disciplines we know and love so well. Does your marketing strategy support your marketing goals? Is your content powerful and effective, supported by efficient, eye-catching design?

*Admittedly, the creative writing awards don’t actually bear mention 🙂


Great content writing, combined with a marketing strategy based on decades of online marketing success form the foundation of a potent relationship marketing plan.