Refresh Recap: Great, Profitable Design

Ferol Vernon, Director of Product Development at ReverbNation in Durham, spoke at Refresh the Triangle last week. His presentation, "Profitable Design," outlined some thought-provoking points about priorities when designing a web site. Ferol emphasized that we should keep users' profitable behaviors (like buying something or adding content to a site) in the forefront of our minds when designing a site.  He also said that some things we spend a lot of time on sometimes don't have an impact on those behaviors (he mentioned fonts and the homepage - since so many users don't come in the "front door" anymore).

Ferol Vernon

Ultimately, Ferol's point was that if you have the means to improve a web site's design, you'd do best to focus on the changes that will impact profitability. From Ferol's point of view, the big, irresistable button has a place at the table.  Ferol described himself as a nerd first, a business guy second, and a designer third - so it's not surprising that his take on design was so focused on the bottom line.

The next day, our own Senior Designer Rob Soule gave his (internal, Viget-wide) LabShare presentation, "Design is in the Details," which offered an interesting contrast to Ferol's talk.

Rob covered 5 elements that distinguish great design from good design and presented them in this order: transforms the ordinary; tells a story; is memorable or leaves a lasting impression; moves you to action; elevates the brand. Rob's focus was on designs that achieve something new and in a refreshing way. Oh, and by the way, I think Rob specifically bashed the big button during his talk.

Of course, these guys started from different angles, so their divergence is not surprising. After mulling it over for a few days, I'd like to ask Rob and Ferol to get together and present on Great, Profitable Design. It seems that Ferol's premise could still be applied in the context of Rob's guiding principles.  Not all design needs to be profitable, but when someone has both goals (profitable and great) - do the strategies need to be mutually exclusive?

Kudos to Ferol and Rob for sharing their ideas. If you're in the Durham area, you should come to the next Refresh meeting!

Emily is Viget's people director, hailing from our Durham, NC, office. She specializes in heart-to-hearts and asking questions that don’t have concrete answers.

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