Design matters. There’s no question about it. Whether you’re a graphic designer, copywriter, photographer or blogger, any and all sorts of design will shape the outcome of your business from the moment you present yourself.
Think about it. We all know someone that has been gracefully blessed with the divine skills of something. That something can be anything. Maybe your friend is a spectacular photographer, but he or she has no sense of how to present their portfolio. In my own experience, I can see a direct correlation between the re-design of my website and the amount of new clients coming in the door.
But here’s the catch, nothing changed. My photography portfolio, built up of the images I use as my prime work examples, did not change. The portfolio section of my site was exactly the same!
What did change was the design. A complete rejuvenation of what I wanted my photography business to be. It was a reawakening of how to present my business, my services and myself – a new attitude taken to a new level.
How Does Design Affect Your Business
It is my plea that design should not be left only to the creatives of the world. Rather, everyone, creative or not, should consider design and how it affects their business. Design is a strategic process that takes time, energy and consideration. This, obviously, is a no-brainer for your standard freelance designer.
By now you should understand the process of showing your work in a creative, dynamic and aesthetically pleasing way. But what about the blogger who’s just starting out? What if you haven’t been published yet? And by all means, attaching Word documents to an e-mail does not count as showcasing your portfolio to that next potential client and/or editor.
In order to take on the “Design Matters” philosophy, let’s take a look at some key steps in what this all means:
What Is Design?
Design is anything that communicates a visual message. Everything has an element of design.
Why Does Design Matter?
First impressions are everything – from business cards to Web sites – the moment a potential client gets that first insight into your world, aesthetics and design are firing thousands of messages. Some positive, some negative… it all depends on the design and the message you want to send.
Good Design Gives Credibility.
Echoing the previous point, you only get one chance to make a first impression. People will not take the time to thoroughly investigate your Web site and figure out who you are and what your story is just to determine if they want to hire you.
Eventually the conversation may discuss some of this information, but initially, trust is the only thing that matters. And trust, at this point, is a gut feeling. The fastest way to send positive reinforcements of trust is through a well-executed visual design that shows your credibility.
Design Is Emotional – Don’t Be Afraid Of It.
It doesn’t matter what your freelancing talents are – design is one of the only ways to connect with your clients emotionally. Sure, words are emotional too… but how these words are read on screen can make a world of difference. When you connect with a client emotionally your relationship is taken to a new level. The sooner you can connect emotionally, the better.
Just like every other part of your freelance career, design requires a considerable amount of planning. When you’re ready to think about the next design step, here are some things to think about:
- What three audiences will come to my Web site. What three types of people would I give a business card to?
- If there was one thing you could communicate to each audience, what would that be?
- At first glace, what does your Web site homepage say about the type of person you are?
- What visual elements communicate the type of business you’d like to run?
- Who are your competitors? What visual elements do they show?
- Is everything consistent? Does your logo match your Web site? Your business card? Your invoices?
- How will you measure the success of your design? More hits and page views? More e-mail inquiries? More clients?
Now that these things have been considered, it’s time to take the next step. Maybe your design is right where you want it. Maybe it needs a facelift. Or perhaps, maybe this is the first time you’ve even thought about it. No matter where you’re at on the spectrum, what matters is this: Understand that design matters, no matter what. :)
What do you think?