Design Is More Than Just a Pretty Picture

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. But are a thousand pictures better than one? It seems there is no limit to the amount of eye candy consumers today can digest. The Internet is a veritable ocean of images, with more and more added every minute. While scanning all those photos may be a pleasant way to pass the time, I wonder whether uploading hundreds of images is an effective marketing strategy.

Thanks to sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz, Facebook, and others, if you have great images, people will go out of their way to find you and let others in their network know about you, too. Of course, that’s also true not only for interior design but for all kinds of consumer products, fashion design, restaurants, and much more. With so many companies and individuals vying for attention, it is hard to hold anyone’s gaze for long. Abundance has bred opportunity, but it has made notoriety more fleeting, too.

Some designers I’ve spoken with welcome the exposure. It has helped bring them new clients. Others worry designers are giving their designs away for others to copy and lowering the value of their services. They may have a point. If designers are marketing themselves primarily through images, are they not reinforcing the view that design is only about aesthetics? Does that in part account for why consumers are buying more product but not spending money on design services? I don’t have the answer, but I know this much: It takes more than a beautiful image to turn a viewer into a client.

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