Design and Business are two broad topics of discussion. However, they are linked in many specific ways. In todays culture where everyone is told that they are an artist and designer we find websites, logo, advertisements and general branding that almost causes pain to look at or have to interact with. This is why your business website design, logo and even branding are crucial to success.
The truth is that most people have the potential to be artists and designers but they need proper training before risking the future of their business or possibly someone else’s.
To help those of you who are interested in upgrading the look and feel of your business, I am going to dive into several areas that business owners can make changes that will support their business, whether it is online or brick and mortar.
Many people get stuck at the beginning with their logo design. When it comes to this the sky really is the limit on the different directions you could go. However, not every path is a successful one. There are key questions that business owners should consider before posting a new logo all over the place to represent their brand.
- Does this logo represent what I do? – Many designers will try to incorporate an aspect of the business’ primary function into the logo itself to tie together the brand with the service or product. By doing this, everyone who sees your logo has an idea of what your business does without having to ask.
- Do the colors represent my market? – Honestly your logo needs to look great in black and white before you even think about color. This lets you know if there are any obvious design problems that need to be addressed. When it is time to think about applying color, consider what colors are dominant in your business’ market. Different colors draw out different emotions within those who view them. For example, orange, yellow and red are most common with restaurants because they are associated with food and triggering hunger. fascinating stuff!
- Where will my logo be displayed? – Circles, triangles and squares are the most versatile shapes to go with for logos because they fit most applications. The more your logo moves into a rectangular shape the more application problems you will encounter. A way around this is to have 2 or 3 variations of your logo just incase the situation calls for it. For example, if you decide to place an 6th of a page ad in a paper or a banner on website that is a vertical rectangle and your logo has a horizontal rectangle layout then you will probably be upset with how small your logo will have to be to fit into that space.
Sure, there are other great questions that are good to ask when deciding on a logo. The important point is that the right questions are being asked. If you are interested in having your logo designed or revised let me know.
[su_service title=”The Takeaway” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” icon_color=”#c1272d”]Hire a professional designer to either do design work or review the work that has been done. the benefits far out weigh the cost. [/su_service]
This is your average customer or client, your target demographic all wrapped up into a person. Your avatar is so important when it comes to marketing, advertising and design. Lets just focus on how this should impact a business owner’s design choices.
The concept most small business owners have a tough time with is who these design decisions are meant for.
Is the end result to convert the business owner into a customer or a prospective client (your avatar)?
Of course the answer is the prospective client. That is why every design decision needs to have this in mind. Many Business owners will make design decisions based on what their own preferences are. Which is why when a designer questions these decisions the business owner can become very defensive and take the questions as a personal attack. Overall, it’s an awkward conversation to have and I like to avoid it if possible.
[su_service title=”The Takeaway” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” icon_color=”#c1272d”]When making any design decision the business owner must ask themselves if their avatar would respond to this.[/su_service]
Have you ever been to a commercial website and then visited their Facebook page or their Twitter page and wondered if you were on the right page? Some small businesses will do something even worse and link their personal Facebook page to their website or create a Facebook profile for their business and not a business page. These practices can open the business owner up to several problems.
Pretend you are a business owner and you are going to a meeting with a client. Would you dress up only if that client came from work to meet you and show up in a t-shirt and flip-flops if they came from home?
It doesn’t matter where leads come from, a business owner needs to put their best face forward and be as consistent as possible in how their company is represented. Why? It looks like you know what you are doing and it gives your business additional creditability.
As a designer I look for these issues to help business show up to the meeting “well dressed” and ready for new clients. If you are interested in having me take care of your branding, let me know.
How do you brand your business?
Honestly, the easiest way to brand is to make a list of all public facing websites that represent your business and make custom backgrounds for each account that matches the style established by your main website (as well as your brick and mortar location if applicable). If you don’t feel you have the ability to properly and professionally do this yourself or you just don’t have the time, hire a designer to do it.
[su_service title=”The Takeaway” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” icon_color=”#c1272d”]Make it a priority to be visually consistent everywhere your business is represented. Also, be sure to set up a proper business page on Linked in, Facebook and Twitter. Never publicly link a business website to a personal social profile.[/su_service]
This is the core of many business owners’ lives. So needless to say, everything pertaining to this is important. These days I predominantly work with WordPress websites. To take that a step further, I work with sites that utilize the Genesis Framework for all these great reasons. I mention this because I may refer to WordPress plugins and hosting companies that cater to those types of websites.
A few things to be mindful of:
- Domain Name – the address where visitors will find your website
- Hosting account – Where your website files are stored
- WordPress Themes – How your website looks
- WordPress Plugins – added functionality to your site
- Graphics and/or stock photography
- Analytics – Website traffic tracking
- SEO – (Search Engine Optimization)
All the things above are important and I plan to cover the non-design related subjects in-depth within another post.
Lets focus on The WordPress Theme and Graphics
Your theme is not really that important honestly, It’s your layout that is important. There are powerful themes out there that are very versatile and have a library of options and there are simple themes out there that satisfy specific needs. So, you have several options.
Many themes have the same layout and options to change it up depending on what you need the webpage to do. Others, have very unique layouts in order to stand out or cater to a specific content type. The theme will also determine the fonts and color scheme of your site.
How do you pick the right one?
Research your market for the most successful websites, make notes of the similarities, then search for a theme that offers those features. This is what I do for my clients who select The Works Package . The most successful websites are the ones that have the largest market share, not the ones who have the look that is most aligned with your personal taste (see your avatar above).
If you have a market that is emerging then a single page theme seems to be the popular choice.
Once you have picked out a suitable theme, then it is time to organize all the information you want to convey with your site and how visitors will navigate your site to find all this information.
Once all your pages are formatted and your menus have been placed, then you need graphics.
The core function of graphics is to promote. Successful website graphics are meant to lead the visitors eye to a specific location while staying consistent with the brand.
[su_service title=”The Takeaway” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” icon_color=”#c1272d”]Hire a web designer to help you with this. As a business owner, your job is to run a successful business, not put off your dream for who knows how long to create a website that will perform. Web design is a lot of work and can take weeks or months (if not years) to do correctly. If all this excites you then you missed your calling and you should have become a web designer … [/su_service]
Sounds like a lot of work. right?
Don’t even worry.
I can help.
However, I can only take on so many clients at a time.