How much does your company invest is the visual design of your business? How intentional are you about the look of your brand colors, logo design, and website presentation? If you said, “Not much,” you’re not alone.
Many companies still think investing in good design for their website and brand is a luxury item. As a result, they rely on unimpressive templates or out-of-date styles for their visuals. But the fact of the matter is good design is not a “nice to have” perk. It’s a critical requirement for your website’s success. There is a huge risk in allowing design to fall by the wayside. Here’s why.
Research shows your company’s visual presence is perhaps the most influential part of your identity. For example, first impressions of a brand are 94% design-related. Furthermore, judgments on website credibility are 75% based on the website’s overall aesthetics.
And the impact it has—positive or negative—is immense: 88% of online consumers say they are less likely to return to a site after having a bad experience. On the other hand of the spectrum, just look at ESPN for proof of the power of good design. ESPN.com revenues jumped 35% after they implemented community suggestions into their homepage design.
Good Design Focuses on User Experience
Good design is not about “pushing pixels” to make things look pretty (although as we noted above, if your design is below par you won’t get many return visitors). It’s about designing a good user experience so that your audience can find the information, products, and services they are looking for quickly and seamlessly.
Is your site easy to navigate? Are you calls to action crystal clear? Does your look and feel match the quality of your brand? In an evaluation of 200 small business websites, 70% of them didn’t display clear calls-to-action for anything on their home pages, such as specials, email newsletters, how-to guides, demos, and interactive tools. It’s a shame because poor design simply doesn’t convert. And isn’t that the point of your website?
A talented designer can help you spot and correct these sorts of holes and boost your visual presence. But where do you find them?
Where to Find a Web Designer
According to payscale.com, a digital designer has a median salary of $53,000 and a senior, director-level designer can easily cost $170,000 or more. For publishers operating on a tight budget, consider hiring a freelance designer to help you on specific projects instead of bringing one onto your staff full-time. Here’s how to get connected with a freelance designer:
Word of Mouth
There is no advertising like word of mouth advertising. One of the best ways to get connected with a talented digital designer is to find out who other people have been happy to work with. Talk to your colleagues at other companies, ask for recommendations on social media, or browse through shared connections on LinkedIn.
Word of mouth recommendations are awesome because you almost always know what kind of relationship you’re walking into ahead of time. The only downfall is that you might not have the opportunity to freely compare prices and proposals if you simply book the first person your old college roommate suggests on Facebook.
Using a site that connects like-minded professionals like Meetup.com, try to get multiple designers in the same room at the same time. For example, there are specific web design groups that meet regularly and welcome people looking to hire freelancers.
In fact, there are meetup groups for just about anything: grabbing beers with fellow entrepreneurs, pitching business ideas, and more. Any one of these places could present you with a freelance designer looking to land their next project.
The internet is full of online marketplaces and job boards meant for connecting freelancers to business owners. Upwork, Crew, and Sortfolio all function to help you find the professional freelancer you need.
This approach is a little more “needle in a haystack,” but if you’re willing to put in the time, you can find really a great designer. Because these sorts of sites tend to allow (almost) anyone to pitch their services, read the reviews carefully and have a video interview with the candidate before hiring them to ensure you book a true professional.
How to Vet Web Design Candidates
We’ve spoken before about how to vet and hire digital people. But when you’re hiring a digital designer, you need to take extra care to find a good match for your brand, both in terms of design style and work style. Here are a few pointers for connecting with the perfect designer for your company.
Interview in person.
If you can’t connect with your designer in person, at least try to meet them via video. Ask them to name websites that will inspire them as they work on your brand and share examples of their past work. Not only do you want to get a feel for how their design style matches up with the look of your business, you want to measure how they communicate and prepare for a project.
Do a test run by hiring the designer for just one small piece of the project (e.g., a homepage wireframe) before committing to the whole project. You’ll notice almost instantly if they have deadline issues, aren’t very professional, or if their skills don’t match their portfolio. Or, alternatively, their work will knock you off your feet, and you’ll know you’ve found the perfect partner!
Be very specific with deliverables.
Where appropriate, hand-draw what you are looking for to communicate the key business rules and functionality for each page on your website. If you’re looking for a new logo, offering, “I like blue” isn’t particularly helpful to a designer. Check for the perfect Pantone or prepare examples of other companies who are using similar colors and designs you admire.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to predictably grow sales. We apply data science to help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, launch new products successfully, and enter new markets profitably.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data-supported methodology to discover insights that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right sales strategies, marketing plans, technologies, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Starting his career at McKinsey, his focus has always been on embracing digital technology and data science to spur strategic growth.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob lives outside Boston, MA with his wife, Kate; daughter, Leni; and black lab, Royce.