Monthly Archives: July 2012

Branding Etiquette – Rule #2: Respect Professionalism


Countless times, I’ve heard referrals and potential clients express their distaste for paying a designer for “what I can get done on VistaPrint for FREE.” By all means, I believe I speak for most graphic designers, that we encourage you to exhaust those options. But, if you choose to do so, you must show respect for what we do as professionals before you can expect anyone to show respect for you and your brand. It would be a waste of our valuable time (typically at $25 an hour) to haggle with you over why you shouldn’t have to pay X dollars for the time we dedicate to making you look good and professional. That time would be better spent marketing our services to others who respect the fact that they are receiving professionalism, personal attention and unique products and designs.

 

Above, you will find one of VistaPrint’s most common business card designs. You can customize this template and have 250 printed for $20 or less. But, have you considered the likelihood that you and several million other people might have the same design as well? Is that something you feel that you can take pride in? Not likely at all.

This design was made specifically for The Computer Guy by B-EZ Graphix. The design elements, technique, contrast, colors and typography all were matched to coordinate with the logo and brand of the company. Whereas, VistaPrint and its doppelgangers push generic designs that don’t offer the personal attention, responsiveness for revisions and professionalism as graphic designers.

So, if your budget is tight, either negotiate or exhaust your interim options with VistaPrint’s more affordable services. Otherwise, respect what we do as designers so that we can maintain our respect for your brand and you as a client. Nevertheless, it is always my recommendation that you prepare yourself before approaching a professional and giving your pitch. Be ready to invest in your brand. #MakeYourself

What to Expect When Designing for Startups


Designing for startups can feel more like a whirlwind than an actual design project. The process can be a rough road to travel if you are not prepared for the full experience.

Thankfully, startups are realizing the need for effective web design and many are hiring professionals like you to get the job done correctly. Great design is becoming more and more important as business owners realize it is an integral component of their growth strategies.

What Startups Expect

For startups, great web design is more than just colors and buttons on a web page. It’s how they will reach their audience, sell their products, outperform their competition and grow their establishment. Startups do not always think in terms of complex code; they simply want a superior solution.

When you can find the union between what startups expect and what you know as great design, you will have a winning combination.

Wells Riley, a graphic, UX and interface designer, wrote a lengthy piece on the importance of design for startups. In it, he is speaking to startups directly.

Here is a statement from his article:

“Companies like Apple are making design impossible for startups to ignore. Startups like PathAirbnbSquare, and Massive Health have design at the core of their business, and they’re doing phenomenal work. But what is ‘design’ actually? Is it a logo? A WordPress theme? An innovative UI?…It’s so much more than that. It’s a state of mind. It’s an approach to a problem. It’s how you’re going to kick your competitor’s ass.”

Startups need stellar web designers whether they realize it or not. Design is the face of their company and it offers a first impression to their online audience.

The Key Elements of Design

In his piece, Wells identifies the key elements of design for startups. He attempts to elevate startups’ perspective on design and explain what it is and how it can help their establishments.

Wells lists what he feels are the true purposes of design. I summarized them below in my own words and quoted some of his statements. Do you agree with Wells?

Innovative – Innovation in design is constantly moving in a forward direction. As technological development expands, innovative design should keep up with the momentum. According to Wells, “Innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.”

Product Usefulness – The usefulness of a product is identified by the psychological connection it brings as well as its aesthetic. Well thought-out design highlights a product’s usefulness and is careful to ignore creating any elements that do not satisfy this goal.

Aesthetic – A product’s aesthetic quality is a component of its usefulness. People use products daily and their appearance affects their well-being. According to Wells, only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Makes product understandable – Design makes the product come to life. It allows the product to speak and answers all of the user’s questions. Essentially, it is self-explanatory.

Unobtrusive –Wells identifies design as neither a “work of art or a decorative object.” It fills a purpose and should be neutral so users can input their own form of self-expression. If design overwhelms and detracts from a user’s experience, even if it is beautiful, it has lost its true purpose.

Honest – Design must be true and honest and never suggest a product is more innovative and powerful than it actually is. It should never manipulate a consumer nor make them think a product is something it is not.

Long-lasting – Great design is not trendy. It lasts forever much like timeless fashion. It will never appear antiquated or behind its time.

Thorough – A great design process must include attention to thoroughness and accuracy. A good designer will express care and respect towards the consumer by finishing a project while leaving nothing to chance.

Environmentally friendly – According to Wells, “Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.”

For startups, the “less is more approach” is ideal. The design should focus only on the essentials and never be burdened with non-important elements just for the sake of beauty. Purity and simplicity will make more of an impact.

What do startups consider the most important qualities of design?

To answer this question, Wells asked 78 CEOs, marketers, and designers about how they define design. What he found was that both parties viewed design similarly.

Below are the criteria Wells used to perform his research:

CEOs, marketers and engineers had similar definitions as compared to web designers. The most important to both groups was aesthetics, while “making a product useful” came in close second. Innovation was right behind in third. These three definitions topped the list for both entrepreneurs and the designers that create their websites.

Are these your top three?

According to Wells…

“Now we’re getting somewhere. Great design is taking root in startup culture, and it seems like many people are open to change. Not only do many entrepreneurs, devs, and engineers see substantial room to improve their own products, they overwhelmingly believe that designers belong on a founding team… Design is becoming a key differentiator for companies to acquire funding, press coverage, and loyal users.”

“For a long time, a pair of co-founders consisted of an executive and an engineer. It worked for Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, just to name a few. These companies have excellent designers today, because it’s a necessity they can’t afford to ignore. It seems like design is becoming more and more prevalent in new startups as well “

How to Survive the Startup Design Process

To become successful working with startups, consider a few tips…

Quick Changes

When designing for startups, outline your objectives in detail along with your quote. Since the startup’s goals can change daily, if you don’t outline your fees appropriately, you will end up offering more of your time for less money than you are worth.

When startups change direction, the design may change in process so if you are not set up to be paid for additional time, you could lose money.

Lay out the details of your services and include a clause defining the rates for any additional work beyond the confines of the project. I learned this lesson after working with a few startups on their website copy. They changed their minds partway through the project and because I had not set up my quote correctly, I ended up spending double the time I normally would without receiving any additional money.

Tip: This tip also applies to any project, but it is most important with startups due to the more chaotic environment.

Chaos

Design for startups involves problem solving. Startups are faced with many dilemmas and chaos is often a common variable. With so many growing pains to endure, the environment can be somewhat indecisive. Your ability to stay calm throughout the process will work in your favor.

Low Budget

Many startups are bootstrapped and they try to make every penny count. Because their budgets are low, web designers working with startups often need to expand their skillsets to include user experience.

One of the goals of creating an effective web design for startups is to get a clear picture of who will be using their website or application. During your consultations you will need to extract as much information as possible even if the client is not completely clear on its audience.

When designing websites, you must know the audience even if they are fictional. During your consultation you want to understand the users’ potential behaviors, how they will use the site, what emotion they should feel while using the site, and what actions they should take. Every attribute you learn about your audience can be applied to the design to ensure your client receives a good level of conversions once the traffic pours in.

If your clients are unsure about their users, don’t be afraid to share your ideas with them. This will not only position you as an expert, but it will also make your design highly effective since this information is so crucial to online success.

When I meet with clients I ask them to fill out a detailed questionnaire. The questions are designed to probe the client for essential details about their target audience. Without this information my website copy would be meaningless because it won’t stir an emotion or compel the user to remain on the website. In order to keep users on the site, I have to get inside their minds and know what makes them tick. What are their behaviors? Desires? Stresses? Problems?

Knowing this information about the target audience will give you the edge and allow you to create a high-converting design that aligns with the startup’s vision.

And even if that vision changes, you will be paid because you outlined your fees correctly in the contract!

Have you done any design work for startups? What has been your experience?

Here are some examples of startup design:

Square

Path

Massive Health

Shall I Buy

Mobilastic

NoteBox

Meetings.io

Source: http://designmodo.com/design-startups/#ixzz1zmWT2X5H

Why Business Logos are So Integral to Success


A logo is a critical and essential part of formulating and promoting a brand or identity, and every business needs identity in an often overcrowded market.  When you attempt to sell any service or product it is essential that you inform your consumers of precisely who you are. A logo does that in a fraction of a second. At a glance, one can see who you are when they see your well-designed business logo graphic.

There are very few businesses that function without a logo. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it is almost unheard of.  Having a logo will, over time, allow the public to not only recognize, but start to trust your company in order to gain repeat customers, which in turn increases your company’s reputation by proof of your worth in the social world.  If you have no logo or identifying message or symbol, then how will customers be able to associate products to your brand?  Take the Coca-Cola product range and brand for example: when customers see the Coke logo they often instantly think of refreshment, and they have trust in that brand.

Benefits of  a Good Logo:

  • solidify your brand
  • increase recognition
  • instill trust
  • develop repeat customers
  • rise above competition

Promote Your Logo

Promotion Why Business Logos are So Integral to Success

However simply creating your logo is not enough on its own.  In order to create the sort of brand identity and consumer respect Coca-Cola or Pepsi enjoy, you need to promote this logo and image in every marketing advert or promotion your produce.  It is essential to have your company logo displayed prominently in order to gain maximum exposure.  In fact, a unique and attractive logo can actually gain your company a worldwide following in itself.

Site Features as Logos

Facebookk Like Why Business Logos are So Integral to Success

And remember, if you have a unique feature on your website that has a graphic to go with it, that becomes a type of logo in itself, that will forever be associated with your company. Think of Facebook, for example–the “like” button, which is essentially an extension of their main logo, arguably helped increase the massive worldwide following they’ve experienced. So careful consideration must go into those special feature graphics. You don’t want to just slap on any graphic in order to get that part of building your website done, especially when such graphics can become great catalysts for change in your company.

Beware of Bad Logo Design

Gap Logo Why Business Logos are So Integral to Success

There is a small word of warning however which you should take note of, take logo creation extremely seriously as it could literally make or break your business in the long term.  Think of GAP and their disastrous re-launch a couple of years ago; their newly released logo caused so much upset amongst their customers who eventually threatened to stop shopping at the store.  This then forced GAP to revert back to their original design or face a massive decrease in sales.  It is thus essential to have your logo created by a professional design agency who will be able to assist you in the choosing of your design and the creation of a worldwide brand.

Conclusion

A logo is essential to the longevity of any business, no matter what market you are currently operating in.  A brand facilitated by a logo allows your company to stand out about above competitors whilst building a repeat user base and sometimes even a solid fan base, all things which will help your business not only survive, but potentially gain a massive market share. To show you some successful logo designs, we collected some incredible examples. Feel free to check them out, and get inspiration for your own business.

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What are your thoughts on this topic? Did you like the short but sweet logo collection above? Don’t be shy, share your comments below! Please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow B-EZ Graphix on Twitter + Facebook (100% Spam Free!) If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment,  and help us spread the word with your peers!