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Hiring Design Talent: What Small Businesses Need to Know

Posted bySun, Apr 28, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

It’s a funny thing for many entrepreneurs: we possess the vision to create living, breathing businesses, but we’re not sure how to represent them visually. Luckily, there are specialists who can put us on the right track: designers and developers. In simplest terms, this is the type of help you need:

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If you are starting a business from the ground up, you probably need a logo, business cards, collateral templates and letterhead. These are identity pieces, the look and feel of your business. Branding can be a very fun process; it’s usually the starting point when you’re starting up.

Graphic designers are also great to work with on infographics and other images that depict a concept.

Website Design

There are flashy websites out there, artistic and gorgeous. But what matters most is that your site is a functional representation of your brand: at a glance, visitors should associate your website with your logo or letterhead. The site doesn’t need to match branding materials as if part of a set, but there should be a resemblance: weight and style of font, use of colors, structure, etc.

A website designer specializes in the electronic arena, so email banners and templates, social media wrappers and covers are also typical projects.

Website Development

Here are the functionality people; they are responsible for how the site works.

Creators of the site’s foundation, the back end, developers are also concerned with user experience. They create ease of use. How is the site laid out? How does the user navigate from point a to z or search for certain types of content? How should the site be organized to get the user to take specific action? How can we create conversion paths and collect visitor information in order to download content? These are only a few things you may discuss with a developer.

Good development brings the design to life and facilitates engagement. This talent also provides a gut check: just because a feature looks good doesn’t mean it will help visitors interact with your website. Or perhaps it is a great idea that needs to be executed, or coded, a bit differently.

You may not find all skill sets in one designer, but you may under one roof.

There are a lot of “create your own design” templates, software and even websites out there, but this is one area in which we encourage clients to invest. (And no, typically marketers and content creators aren’t designers. It is a different specialty.)

  • Invest because it is the most efficient way to get a professional look and feel.
  • Invest because the Internet and the function of online marketing is growing more complex. Hiring a specialist will save you money and help you maintain quality in the long run.

For the most part, graphic and website design and development are three separate specialities. You may find a designer who can do a little graphic and Web or a developer who dabbles in website design. But many agencies typically have all skill sets you need—a true relief. It may be a little more expensive to go this route, but it is a lot less stressful when your designers collaborate and you are presented with a holistic, complete product. Another option is to find a consultant who has strong relationships within the design community—they might be happy to coordinate among specialists and project manage.

The most helpful way to work with a designer

There can be pitfalls no matter how your design talent is structured—the biggest being: what is the best way for you to work together? Knowing what you need and don’t know will go a long way to finding the right fit.

Now if you’re a veteran who’s worked with such firms in the past and you know exactly what you need based on previous experience, then go for a designer who can deliver what you want. This approach depends on you to have the answers—it’s the execution you seek.

But beware of this work style if you new to the experience of creating a website or if you have a fairly new business. Because even if you have a good vision, you don’t know how it will really look or play out. A sketch of a website design won’t look or function quite the same online—it can even vary from browser to browser. The ideas in your head or  mashups of great examples you’ve complied may not work.

A designer who provides counsel is an ideal collaborator for you. Look for a consultative approach, especially if you are starting out, starting up or just handling a new type of project.

A designer who employs a consultative process will want to understand more than just the parameters of the project; they will want to talk about:

  • Who you are, values and goals.
  • Who you want to reach, prospective customers.
  • How you want to use materials.

They will listen to what you say and don’t say to understand your world. They will propose ideas to serve you now and in the future. Will they be your partner and help you expand functionality as your company grows? Will they push back and tell you what you don’t need yet?

Be prepared to answer basics about your company and set up; they need to know technical requirements and other databases, networks, platforms you work with.

But a big thing they need to understand: your clientele. So make sure you have done persona research and can share information about prospective customers: who they are, what they struggle with, how they behave and what they want from a website. Know your target audience and their habits.

cover photo_lead gen guide resizedWorking with the right designers sets the stage to engage prospective customers.

Find out five ways your website can help attract the right leads; bring in business with our free Lead Generation Guide.

 

 

 

 

 

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