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Why Art is Useless and Design Rules: Transforming Prospects into Paying Customers with the Power of Deliberate Design

Most business owners build out their website, their brand and their marketing with a chaotic bunch of images, words and graphics.  

That’s like putting your potential clients and customers in the middle of Grand Central Station in New York — they can’t focus on anything because there’s just TOO much going on!

Now imagine the opposite…

Imagine standing at an abandoned subway stop, looking out across the station and there’s just one person there.

You have the time and space to focus and study their expression, you can take in the details of what they’re wearing and their body language…

You get to really see that person.

That’s the difference between art and design.

Art is about self-expression and being in the moment. It’s about ornamentation, decoration and adornment.

There’s usually a lot of movement and sound or colors and words.

But design is different.

Design is about guiding attention and eliminating distraction.

It’s about focus and clarity.

So, I want you to start approaching your business as a designer rather than an artist because business is about giving your audience the clarity and focus they need to take the actions you want them to take.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have artistry in your business. Putting your designer hat on simply means you’re deliberately sculpting powerful experiences for your prospects and you’re getting them to do something with that all-important call to action.

Oscar Wilde famously wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray that “art is useless.”

I remember reading that for the first time, years and years ago and thinking, “What do you mean art is useless? Art is NOT useless!”

But when I reflected on his words and his explanation I realized that art really is quite useless and that’s something to celebrate

There are very few domains in life, where you’re creating something with no purpose other than self-expression.

Here’s Wilde’s full quote…

“Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood. It’s not meant to instruct or influence action in any way. A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that has to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course, man may sell the flower and so make it useful to him but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental.”

So, business may resemble art at times but that doesn’t have to do with the essence of business — that’s accidental.

When you look at your business and recognize that your goal — your job — is to do the work of a designer, to focus attention and eliminate distraction, all of a sudden you realize it’s not about filling the space with as much as possible…

It’s about emptying the space, as much as possible.

If you look at the dictionary definition of design it means “to create, fashion, execute or construct according to plan.”

When it comes to your business it’s not just about pure self-expression, it’s about executing according to plan.

And that plan includes reducing your message to what I call The Atomic Level of Communication where nothing more can be added and nothing taken away and people can focus on exactly what it is you mean to say.

Whenever I approach designing a website for example, I like to think, “What’s the number one goal of this page? What’s the number one thing I want people to do?”

And all the words, images and design cues are there to accentuate that ONE goal or call to action… just like looking out across at an abandoned subway stop and seeing that one person, everything on the page is supporting that ONE call to action.

That’s where the magic happens.

Your prospects will click on that buy button, they’ll sign up for your newsletter and get on that phone call with you and they’ll buy from you when you become a master designer — when you know how to focus their attention and eliminate distraction… according to plan.

And if you want to learn how to deliberately and masterfully focus attention and eliminate distraction on your website…

If you want to quickly turn your site into a lean, mean money making machine (without spending a bomb!)…

You’ll love my FREE 60-minute masterclass

This in-depth training includes my favorite DIY tweaks and tips that you can immediately implement to transform first-time visitors into paying clients and customers plus position yourself as THE authority in your industry.

You’ll also find out if you’re making a home page mistake that’s costing you big time in new leads and sales (don’t worry, I’m sharing the easy, non-technical way to fix it) plus you’ll learn how to use a little-known concept called “micro commitments” to double or even triple your current opt in rate 🙂

If all of this sounds good to you, I invite you to click here and sign up for free.

One final thing…

What are 3 things you can eliminate from your messaging, and from your marketing right now so the number one thing that you want to convey stands out?

Share in the comments below, I’d love to know 🙂

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Shockadelic Avatar

    It’s not Grand Central Station. It’s Grand Central Terminal.

    See the Mandela Effect.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hmmm… very interesting…

  2. Virginia Reeves Avatar
    Virginia Reeves

    Marisa – thanks for pointing out the difference between artistry and designing with such clarity. Yes, it’s important to keep creativity in mind when focusing because people respond to that. Like the quote from Oscar Wilde. Going to check out Heroic – appreciate this tip and all the others you share.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      So glad you enjoyed it Virginia! I think you’ll really enjoy Heroic. Let me know what you think when you check it out 🙂

  3. Richard Koenigsberg Avatar
    Richard Koenigsberg

    Quite a presentatiohn! Were you in New York City recently?

    And yes, great choice of Grand Central as a symbol of the absence of focus. I wandered around there00and many other places–for many years. However, the essence of Manhattan is precisely the experience of GETTING LOST. Of being nowhere, of having no focus. It’s a kind of meditation, explorating and experience with no goal.

    And the wonderful thing about Manhattan is: you can get lost, but never entirely lost because there is ALWAYS A SUBWAY STOP nearbye wherever you are…so you can get lost, and no you can get back home.

    You’re a kind of scholar of marketing. Thanks!

    With regards,
    Richard K.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Richard! Yep, my husband Murray and I go to New York once a year in the winter to “reset” and get a new perspective away from sunny LA 🙂 Love that perspective on being lost in NYC too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. James m.Kamara Avatar
    James m.Kamara

    Please buld me west side J k

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi James, did you check out the website building masterclass linked here: — this is the BEST resource I could give you to start building an awesome website, and it’s free 🙂

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