You know when you’re being taken advantage of. All you wanted was a website design that would promote your business and help you succeed, and what you got instead wasn’t worth the pixels it was painted on.
What’s worse is you have to start over. You’ve lost weeks or months of time, wasted thousands of dollars and possibly hurt your business reputation, and now you have to do the whole thing over again.
It’s daunting, let’s be honest. What if DesignLab were just as much of a nightmare?
Lucky for you, we’re not going to let that happen to you again. Here are some secrets many graphic designers don’t tell you, and knowing this can save you a time and money:
#1: Always being pretty doesn’t count.
Of course you want your website to look great and create a visual impact with your customers, but good looks don’t bring in sales.
A great tour guide does, though – and that’s your website’s job. It presents your business to customers and welcomes them, showing them around and introducing them to points of interest they should definitely see before they leave. As tour guide, your website has the task of providing visitors with the right guidance to direct them to where they want to go – and to where you want them to go as well.
You can have both a beautiful design and still get results. If you find yourself having to choose between one or the other though, stick with getting results. Winning design awards may be nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
#2: You don’t need to redesign.
Remember, your web design is just one piece of a bigger picture. What if your message is wrong, and you need a copywriting overhaul? What if your brand image is pulling in the wrong target market? What if your marketing strategy has holes in it? What if there’s an issue with your product or service?
You can’t afford to ask a dozen specialists their opinion.
Ask a big-picture specialist for help – someone who can analyse elements of your website and pinpoint the problem.
You might be surprised to find out there’s nothing wrong with your website at all, and just a copy tweak or a new marketing strategy does the trick.
#3: You don’t need to spend a fortune.
There is a saying, you get what you pay for, and sometimes, that’s true. But it’s not true that you need to spend a fortune on a good website.
There are too many designers out there preying on this factor, charging enormous rates for their own profit. They blind you with techspeak and fancy coding terms.
Don’t be fooled by it.
Work out your budget and find a graphic designer who can work within it. Look for a designer that fits the style of a website you’d like for your business. Look at other sites you like and see who designed them. Ask for quotes, take your time and shop around.
#4: Maintaining a website isn’t always expensive.
Many business owners get ripped off on this one. Since graphic design and website development is usually a one-time expense, providers try to con you in as a customer so they can bill every month for recurring charges. Charges that don’t need to be.
So let’s look at web hosting? You can pay as little as $5 a month – why pay more? Look around.
Do you need to pay maintenance charges? Why? The upgrades that might come along every now and then? Opt for WordPress that lets you do your own upgrades just by clicking a button. We do.
You need to change content? A content management system wins again. Login to your site, and in two or three clicks, you’re updating your site, changing copy or adding a new page all by yourself. It’s that easy with WordPress.
When someone offers you an upsell maintenance package, ask what they’ll do for that money. Then go to Google and find out just how easy it is to do what they’ve offered you.
If your’e not interested in maintaining your site then by all means, hire someone to do it for you, but just be sure you’re not being overcharged for quick and easy jobs.
#5: You don’t need to be totally unique.
You do need to stand out these days and look different from all your competitors. The problem is that some graphic designers can take it a too far, and they design you a website that’s so unique it breaks all the rules of web design. Your expensive website ends up being a confusing experience for your customers.
Designers need to create websites that follow proper web conventions and usability rules, because these are the guides to navigating your site quickly and easily.
For example, consumers know they’ll generally find an RSS or email opt-in on the top right of a site – it’s always found here. Logos are usually found in the top left of a site, and navigation bars are usually found below header areas.
If you change that you’ll create a customer experience that’s similar to walking into an alien world. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be, everything is backwards.
And then what happens? Your potential customers leave. Your website becomes crippled and ineffective, all in the name of being unique.
#6: Branding is a specialist skill, and not all designers can do it well.
Most graphic designers are not skilled in developing brands. They’re good at developing graphic design that reflects your brand identity.
They assume your target market, and what appeals to those ideal customers. They’re assuming the values of your business and its marketing message. They’re assuming its personality and the type of experience your customers will have when they work with you or buy from you.
It’s far better to work with a branding expert to your developer your identity before you hire a designer, or work exclusively with graphic designers who understands branding and can develop a site that reflects your brand. Otherwise you’ll just attract the wrong kind of people, and the entire website will be a waste of time and money.
#7: Good Design Isn’t Just about Photoshop. It’s so much more…Psychology.
The secret to a great website isn’t in having a pretty design and some compelling content. The real secret is in psychology and consumer behaviour.
A graphic designer needs to know psychology. They need to know what imagery will appeal to your customers, and why it appeals to them. They need to know what’s going on in people’s minds when they land on your site and as they navigate through yours.
Are smooth curves better than concentric circles? What will draw your customers to the right or the left? What emotional state should your website create? Should the design be modern and simple or colourful and bold or soft and comforting? Where do a person’s eyes travel, and what will make them stop?
Good designers know all this and much more. They understand that their goal is to influence a visitor’s psychological state of mind and perception of your business. The more designers know about how people behave, what makes them take action and ways they react to different elements, the better they can implement persuasive strategies into your site.
Then they build you a site that captures interest, holds it, and ultimately brings you sales.