Which ad sold the jeep?

Before and After Magazine recently posted about the non-design design saying “Our Jeep-loving senior designer found these two ads on craigslist one week apart. They are from the same seller for the same vehicle. One is carefully laid out, well typeset, neat as a pin. The other is handmade, grubby, playful (”Girlfriend not included”). Question is, which one’s going to sell the Jeep?”

Our Response?

Depends on the target demographic. In terms of the one you expect us to say will sell, i.e. the second one, I find the yellow text hard to read, and there is too much of it. So it takes work to find out what is being sold. And we all know people hate putting in effort to understand anything. So while it might be the obvious design choice, that does not mean it will sell.

The Answer

The first “boring” ad beat the second “interesting” ad. The Jeep owner reported “Then I remembered that the grubby and playful ad was more like a brand ad — conveying brand personality and trying to generate aspirational desire. But anyone looking in craigslist already knows all about Jeeps and is looking to get the cold, hard facts about specific vehicles: engine, appointments, mileage, etc. They already know they want a CJ or a Wrangler. That’s why manufacturer ads are different from dealer ads. As ugly as dealer ads are, 100 years of learning underlie those eyesores.  🙂  … So, in the end, it all boiled down to the target audience and where they were in the buying process. If early on, then fun and playful and personality is good. But later in the process, it’s just the facts, ma’am. ”

The Lesson

Same applies to website design.   Graphically “interesting” does not mean “effective”. Websites are not pictures, they are tools. Tools for selling. Remember that next time you are looking for someone to redesign your osCommerce website.  You can choose a graphic artist like all those people who voted for the second non-selling ad or you can pick user interface designers like ozEworks who got it right.