Design Studio: What Makes a Hero?

One of the most common challenges I face as a designer is the task of simplifying designs.   Most of the time, the companies I work with would like to be able to communicate many different things about their company and their products to customers.   In email newsletters, for example, they might want  to show new products, showcase best sellers, display all of the product categories, highlight some new press, talk about upcoming seasonal items, present a special offer, solicit participation on the site’s blog and also do a survey.   Most of the time my job is to meet all of these needs and to present the information in a visually appealing, easy to understand format.

Sometimes, however, it is also my job to push back.  Part of being a designer is to be proactive and to suggest other approaches to the presentation of the information that might actually bring greater success to the presentation or campaign.  eCommerce is customer-centric and prospective customers often have very limited attention.  I help my customers “get through” by helping them focus their messages.

In this post, I would like to talk  about one technique for getting through.  I will talk about using a single strong image to simplify and bring impact to your presentation.   This technique is called the “Hero Image”.

The basic idea of the “Hero Image” is this:  Show don’t tell.  When you use a Hero Image you let the presentation be a visceral experience that conveys your brand promise.  For a clothier, that could be the confidence and happiness that you feel when you look good.   For a gourmet company, it could be the sensual experience of quality food.    Perhaps the image has a few words that position the company or enhance the essence of the picture, but otherwise you let the image carry the load.

So what can this mean for eCommerce retailer?  Look at your messaging on your website and emails.   Is it overly complicated?    Consider trying a new approach that captures your company’s unique selling proposition with a hero image.  Here are some recent examples:

Do you have an image that really says who you are?  Try testing it head to head against your current creative and see how it does.   Let me know if you want a second opinion.  Email me:  Clawrence@tli2.com

Have fun!

Cinny

An Update:     I don’t think any company has done this better than Apple.  Steve Jobs understood the value of simplicity.  Modern life for many people is frenetic and complicated and people are often overwhelmed by a barrage of marketing messages.  But look at Apple’s messaging.  It was calm.  It was clear.  It was confident.  Recently, it was also poignant.

Did you see the Apple.com page in tribute to Steve Jobs?  It’s as good an example as I can think of and a fitting hommage to man that knew the power of simplicity.

Many times, “less” can be “more”.

 

 

Cinny’s is Creative Director at Timberline Interactive and can usually be found on the phone, in Photoshop or hacking CV3 templates... sometimes all three at the same time. She has over 15 years of commerce design experience and lives in Middlebury, Vermont.

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