Design is a skill that is often overlooked and undervalued. Look to schools for instance—art is one of the first programs to get cut when the budget is tight. The same is often true in the business world.
A small business owner can easily see the positive impact that a skilled accountant brings to the table. An office manager with an array of skills and experience provides a noticeable and measurable difference. However, it can be harder to pinpoint the effectiveness of design—especially since the perceptions of a business’ potential clients aren’t easily measured.
It’s not hard to see why many small businesses opt to do their own design. But we are here today to offer a different perspective. One that has been honed through years of college, graduate school, and a over a decade of work.
1. First impressions Matter
In person-to-person interactions, you have 7 seconds to make your first impression. That’s not long.
Perhaps even more alarming is how fast visitors will form an opinion on your brand while looking at your website—two-tenths of a second. That’s right folks. Not even a half of second. This fascinating article details the “science” of first impressions of websites.
Bad, or simply mediocre, design can turn a client away before they even read about how amazing your product / service is. If your clients are not IMMEDIATELY engaged by the visual design, you already lost them and have to fight to get them back.
You wouldn’t send an intern to lead a big new business pitch, so why leave the first impression up to a non-expert?
2. DIY Designers Don’t Have As Many Tools in Their Toolbelt
My first job out of college was working for a consulting firm as their in-house designer. It wasn’t glamorous – projects included PowerPoints, brochures, and the occasional ad.
The most frustrating part of the job was that my only tools were Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. The limitations to the programs inhibited me from making the minor design tweaks that turn a mediocre design into a good one.
For example, in a design program, you can move image and text pixel by pixel to get the exact alignment you want. In Microsoft programs, images are aligned to the text or snapped to a grid making it hard to make minor moves.
The same is true for most small businesses. Unless you have a creative department, you are likely working with big blunt tools instead of fine-tipped, specialized ones.
If you are lucky enough to have Adobe’s Creative Suite – do you know how to use it? Even if you have the best tools on the market, you may not know how to use them to their full potential.
For example, have you ever heard of Prismacolor Colored Pencils? They are essentially the Mercedes of colored pencils. Check out this drawing posted on Pinterest. Absolutely amazing. Compare that to the coloring my 3 year old did with Prismacolors. Same high-end tools. Completely different skill level and knowledge of the tools.
3. An Expert’s Eye Makes a Difference
Just like a doctor can diagnose and treat illnesses, designers can identify and fix layouts and designs that are ineffective.
One of our latest success stories comes from the Peterson Spring website. Their original website wasn’t awful, but our team quickly noticed the design did not lead visitors to take any action.
The new website we created visually highlighted a “request a quote” button and increased online leads by 1600%. The effects of good design are not always this clearly defined, but we are using this example to illustrate the power of user-friendly layouts.
4. An outsider’s perspective helps market your product or service
You’ve heard the old saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. Individuals who are so immersed in a brand or service often miss the simple truths that drive consumers to their products.
The other challenge of companies doing their own design is that they often use just a large image of their product or service because they think that will be enough to draw consumers in. Unfortunately, readers often consider this type of design an ad.
Consumers are inundated with ads. It’s estimated that the average US consumer sees over 350 ads per day and only notices 150 of them. That’s a lot of ads each day, and a lot of money that is spent on ads that aren’t even noticed by consumers.
To get noticed, marketing needs to speak to the consumer. The visuals need to tell the right story, the text needs to have the right tone and language, and the layout needs to support the brand and appeal to the target audience. All these components can be best managed by an expert to ensure the best result.
An “outsider” who is trained to identify and draw attention to how consumers will benefit from using a specific product or service can help you get more bang for your marketing buck.
If your business’s design has been all DIY in the past and you’d like an expert’s opinion on how to improve your image and messaging, we are always here to help!