Is it worth it? This is the question you can often find someone asking when they are looking to hire a professional web designer or graphic designer. I’m not trying to depreciate that question, because it’s an important question.
With services out there that can promise you a “professional” looking website for a much lower price point, why would you shell out the extra money?
To be blunt – why should you? With the accessibility of services like Squarespace and Wix at a cheaper price point, why would you pay so much more for another person to do it for you when you can do it yourself? Rather than listing a number of examples of why, I’m going to take a unique avenue in explaining the relationship between a profession designer and your business.
Firstly, let’s reframe this question, instead of why, how about we ask when?
You should hire a professional when your business works, and you know that it works. You can’t build a successful, long-term and viable business on a foundation of “great design”. What a custom designer can do –is expand upon your vision THROUGH great design, with the support of: project direction and strategy, accessible and clean development, research and experience in the space.
Gasp…so you’re saying that paying a designer is pointless!
Before you get up in arms with your pitchforks, let me explain… Hiring a custom designer is pointless if you expect them to do the work for you and that by them creating your brand, logo or website it will create growth and revenue just by existing.
It’s easy for people to go from “I have a business idea!” to “Oh I need a logo and a website” almost instantly. This is because it’s the one things you can control and have (somewhat) immediately. But if you have no follow through, don’t put in the personal time and effort to use your product, or just expect “having” a website, logo, business cards etc. is going to lead to any growth you are being naive.
A logo and a website are built upon the understanding of your business, it’s purpose, and who it exists to serve.
Every project I start with, begins with an introduction. An introduction that may seem like I am trying to get a better understanding of you and/or your business, but, in reality it’s deeper than that. This introduction is trying to make you understand, or at least verbalize, your business at its core, so that you can explain it to me.
Now that may seem somewhat contrived and you may question if I’m telling the truth.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”Albert Einstein
This quote demonstrates the idea that understanding your problems is more important than trying to think of solutions. This is because without understanding them, your solution and may fail and you can end up wasting time by trying solution after solution where all of them lack merit and applicability.
The problem in this case is – how do I present my business visually while staying in alignment with its purpose and goals?
Step one is always to understand your business, then, and only then, can you begin to think of how your business looks, feels, markets, and operates.
The details matter
This is where you can start to understand the point of a custom design and a professional designer. Details are why you hire a professional, details are what the average person only subconsciously realizes exists. A business can create your own design using some template, and it may even come naturally and you may create something beautiful and it’s exactly what you wanted.
Or so you think…
The details are what the subconscious mind picks up on, so if they are missing, a persons immediate response, whether they know it or not, will be influenced by these details. So they will say… “Its good, it’s just missing something” or “I like this part of it but this other part loses my attention”.
Or maybe they hardly pay attention to anything other than their overall and immediate experience.
These responses stem from the details or lack-there-of. The details that are necessary to turn something good into something great or timeless is something you can only learn and see through experience and time.
01. Detail of design – OPTICAL ADJUSTMENT
EXAMPLE A – The letter “T” as a start to a heading
The example above looks off, the empty space created by the T looks as if it doesn’t belong and throws of the alignment of then entire heading
This examples looks balanced and doesn’t throw off the alignment of the entire heading
EXAMPLE B – Visual Alignment and Weight
The example below shows how just because something is mathematically centered down the middle doesn’t mean it will look correct or centered at all. This is because you can’t automatically adjust for the shape and weight of each element (In this case the triangle in the center)
02. Detail of process – PROJECT MANAGEMENT
You can break down the creation process into a few stages. But to keep it simple you have the design stage and then the development stage. When you create a website from scratch using templates, they are trying to have you skip the design stage. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can (and often) leads to repeatedly saying “It’s not looking right” and trying again. This is because your content and vision doesn’t always fit into a templated design.
The reason the process is in stages is that when you are trying to design and develop at the same time you get stuck in an endless loop of revisions and changes that never quite hit the mark. You are locked into a certain way of doing things without the freedom to explore or think.
e.g it’s like learning to cook so you invite your entire family over and cook a three course meal for 7 people. Some things will turn out well and other things you will burn, and your three course meal turns into two and one member of family can’t eat because you didn’t know how many portions to make.
Sure you learned from the experience but at the end of it you realized you could of done it better. This is the same idea when try to develop your website without knowing what it’s going to look like first. You’ll end up thinking “I could of done it better” and you go down the cycle again.
03. Detail of understanding – KNOW YOUR BUSINESS
Here we are, back at this “understanding”. This understanding of business and its vision before starting. It’s one of the finer details that often gets overlooked, whether because of ego or impatience…
“I just want to get started on this”
But without this detail you have nothing to grow upon. It can be likened to trying to grow plants in your garden without the correct soil.
The soil is where the seed is buried, it gets its nutrients, sets its roots and foundation in, and then grows from it.
But you don’t just do this willy nilly, there is a process in which you need to be aware of… the different the specific moisture levels of soil based on the plant your growing, when the PH levels matter, what fertilizer works best for my location and plant, and so forth.
The soil of your garden is comparable to that of the understanding of your business.
What you see vs what you don’t
The custom design and development process looks very much like the cliche example of an iceberg. Underneath what you can see is where the real weight is. The research, thought, planning, brainstorming, experience and understanding is the unseen work behind every good logo, website or custom design. It isn’t necessarily a selling point of being a designer, and you don’t necessarily need to go to a professional designer to better understand your business. BUT if you choose the right one, you will get this high level view point of your business like you may of never looked at it before, or at the very minimum put into words before.
- Who do you serve?
- Why should they trust you?
- How did you arrive at this point?
- Why is what you offer unique?
A few questions I start every client introduction with and they may be questions you’ve never asked yourself, but it’s from these questions a product (brand or a website) can be created that truly works in collaboration with your vision.
So back to the question at hand – why do you need a professional designer?
Because you’re ready to take your take your vision to the next level, expand it, feed it, purge it where necessary, help it grow into something you can be proud of. But remember, make sure that you are in control of the business first, a designer can only build off the foundations that lies at the heart of your business.