Principle 1: Beautiful design should motivate a person to take action

By using the right tools and following these three principles of beautiful design, it’s actually easy for marketers to create beautiful content.

In order to get someone to take your chosen conversion action, you must first create desire for your product or service within them.
Advertising legend and consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier claims desire is made up of two key elements – individual incentive and social norms.

Individual incentive is the idea that at a basic human level we are motivated to undertake a certain behavior either to gain pleasure or avoid pain. In marketing terms, desire to convert is created when people can see how your product or service can help them to either gain pleasure or avoid some sort of pain they have been experiencing.

That said, humans are sophisticated beings and will not simply seek out whatever creates pleasure or avoids pain with no thought to the consequences. We are inherently social, and are driven to act in a way we believe would be considered “normal” in society. So when deciding whether or not to conduct a behavior (such as converting), not only do we consider the individual incentive but we also consider things like how we will look if we perform this behavior, what the social norms are around this behavior and whether people we consider influential are undertaking the behavior.

So in order to create desire for your product or service, you actually need to satisfy both the individual incentive and social norm elements at the same time.

To do this, you need to show people how your product or service will reduce pain or increase pleasure, and you need to reassure them that using your product is a perfectly acceptable behaviour to undertake.

So how do you do that with beautiful design?

Let’s take a look at some examples from the best in the business:

How AirBnB creates desire using beautiful images

Beautiful design


AirBnB creates desire for their product, in this case vacation properties, by using beautiful product images that showcase the properties in the best possible light. This heightens a person’s individual incentive to stay at one of the listed properties and therefore increases their chance of converting.

When Airbnb first implemented professional photographs on the site, they doubled the number of bookings in a week. Now Airbnb has a team of professional photographers that photograph properties at no charge to the owners, and it has been one of the key drivers of their rapid growth towards $250 million in revenue.

Beautiful design

What you can learn from Airbnb

When using images or screenshots of your product or service in your marketing content, use beautiful photography to increase individual incentive. This is particularly true for products or services in which aesthetics are part of the package, such as vacation properties or fashion items.

Airbnb doubled bookings in one week by using beautiful images of their properties

How Shopify creates desire using personalization

ShopifyBeautiful design creates desire for their product by personalising the homepage experience based on the visitor’s location, presenting them with localised messaging and imagery that shows Shopify is Australia’s preferred eCommerce platform.

By doing so, Shopify is creating a social norm that other Australian businesses are using the platform to power their online stores, and reassuring visitors it is perfectly acceptable for them to do the same.

What you can learn from Shopify

The more you can personalize your landing pages, websites or email campaigns to the characteristics of the reader, the higher your chances of converting them. Use dedicated landing pages and segmented email campaigns to target your messaging and imagery, and create a social norm that other people just like them are using your product to increase pleasure or reduce pain.

Shopify uses personalized landing pages to create a social norm and increase motivation to signup

How Apple creates desire using context

apple Beautiful design

Design maestros Apple create desire for their iPad by showcasing the product being used in context.

In their recent Verses campaign for iPad, Apple created a beautifully designed website that showcases how different people use their iPad in various ways to enhance their lives.

Rather than just showing pictures of the product itself, Apple creates individual incentive by showing the product being used in context, demonstrating how the product can be used to enhance the individual’s life.

Furthermore, Apple creates a sense of social norm by featuring prominent, aspirational figures like travel writer Cherie King. By showing her using an iPad on the go, Apple is proving that the iPad is a perfectly acceptable product for you to use as well.

What you can learn from Apple

When including pictures or screenshots of your product or service in your marketing content, show your products in the context of how they will help the user either create pleasure or avoid pain, as this will increase the individual incentive to use your product or service.

Apple creates desire by showing its products being used to enhance people’s lives


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