Sarah Bentley

Date published

Aug 15, 2022

The internet has changed every piece of our lives, from how we shop to how we engage with our friends and family. And for the most part, it’s made them better.

The same is true in advertising. Technology has put brands at the tips of our fingers. It has opened up a world of opportunities, created new ways to keep customers and find new ones, but it’s also raised our expectations. We want what we want and “we want it now”, in as few clicks as possible, which has led to digital agencies focusing on functionality.

And there in my eyes lies the problem. We’ve lost sight a little bit. What has happened to the concept, the art direction and the photography? Without these things, websites lack creative vision, they all look the same, leaving little or no impression on the customer. But if we bring art directors and developers together, we can make web projects creative as well as functional.

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The forgotten role of the art director

As an art director myself, I know how important conceptual design, compelling copy and well-directed photography is. Wherever I am, whatever I’m viewing, whether it be a banner, a website or scrolling on my social media, I’m looking for it. I want to see great art direction and beautifully crafted designs across all digital media.

I became a digital art director by default, when my brand and comms agency merged with a digital agency. I became part of a digital world, where coding and algorithms still sounded ‘gobbledygook’. I had a lot to learn, but I knew that art direction still had to be a part of the mix for me.

So, instead of dropping all the things I’ve learned in my 25 year career in brand and comms, I found a way to bring old school art direction into a digital setting. I wanted to create great digital experiences across our screens and of course get results.

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The importance of photography

Good photography mixed with engaging copy and design lets you know you’re in the right place. It’s the key to brand alignment and how you feel about the brand. The photography should appeal to the ‘senses’ of a customer and evoke an emotional response. We want you to feel like you can jump into the picture and become part of the scene, to imagine yourself there.

A photoshoot is a big deal for brands. It can make or break their efforts to communicate their proposition. It allows them to tell the complete story of who they are and what their brand represents. The imagery is always unique, never to be used by another brand, but when shooting for the web, we need to adapt our approach and that’s where the art director comes in.

Our unique eye allows us to see the bigger picture. We see not only the image itself, but also how it will be used, so we can ensure the final image works in the right situation. We know it has to be clean and uncluttered, we know it has to be shot wide for our screens and we know it has to stand out, because we only have seconds to convince you to click.

The key to engaging digital experiences

And at Creode, art direction is a major part of the process. We help our clients to see that it’s more than just a creative process, it’s an investment in their brand. Not only do we create digital experiences that get results, but we bring them to life using motion design, creative concepts and distinctive imagery.

Technology, usability, and responsiveness are, of course, a big part of what we do. But so is creativity, so is photography, so is art direction.

By bringing these into a digital setting, we can create memorable experiences for the customer. And thankfully, our clients agree, because we’ve proven that quality photography and good ideas are just as important in their digital world as they were in print format.

The moral of the story is, old school art direction is not dead, it’s alive and kicking on the web, and very much at the heart of the user experience. Let’s hope that digital art direction will now be recognised and given the attention it deserves.

It’s not just about usability, it’s about taking the user on a journey and letting them be part of the world your web project creates.