5 Ways To Get the Most Out of the Design Process

5 Ways To Get the Most Out of the Design Process

5 Ways To Get the Most Out of the Design Process

A good working relationship with your graphic designer can improve your return on investment

Because getting stuff designed for you should be fun!

There comes a moment in the small business journey when you are ready to stop DIY-ing and hand your design work over to a professional. Maybe it’s just because I love graphic design a little bit too much, but I think the process of working with a designer should be exciting, fun and free of stress.

So to help out with this I have made this sweet little list and free downloadable worksheet to help you get the most out of the graphic (or web) design process.

 

1. Choose a good designer

But how? A great place to start is to ask your network. This tried and true method gives you the extra advantage of a bit of insight into how reliable a designer is and what they are like to work with. Because having a gorgeous design is useless if none of the deliverables are ever completed.

Choosing a local graphic designer is also a great way to go if you are feeling a bit lost. A bit of common ground can go a long way to sparking a great working relationship. Plus local knowledge is always useful when it comes to small business. And although graphic designers and web designers can easily work remotely, there’s nothing like the face-to-face catch up! Personally I love getting out and meeting up with my local clients in Adelaide and the Hills area.

Graphic design is a collaborative process, so finding a designer you can build a good working relationship with is a fantastic way to get the very best out of the experience.

 

2. Ask the right questions – both of them and yourself

Establishing good communication is the cornerstone of any great project, and graphic design is no different.

When we hire a professional to do something for us, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of expecting an amazing result, with little or no effort. It’s only natural! But great design comes from great collaborations between graphic designer and client. Because, sure, your designer is an expert on visual communication, websites and design theory. But you are the leading expert on your business.

So what are the right questions? Well, they can vary depending on the job, and a good designer will help guide you through the briefing process. But before you even meet with your designer it can be helpful to ask yourself some basic questions.

Firstly, ‘why am I doing this?’ Or put another way, ‘what is the purpose of this project?’ Having a clear idea of what you want a design project to achieve for you will provide focus and allow you to measure its success.

Another really great thing to ask yourself is ‘who am I doing this for?’ Knowing who your marketing materials are aimed at can help your graphic designer to make informed design decisions that improve the overall success of your project.

Do you find the whole idea of briefing a designer just too much? I have created a free, downloadable Design Brief Worksheet to help you know what questions to ask yourself and your designer throughout the course of a project.

 

3. Establish the scope of the work

Do this right from the start – before any work is done. This will save so much heartache on both sides. And when both sides are happy, amazing working relationships are born!

Request a detailed estimate from your designer upfront, and make sure it includes a list of the deliverables you will receive at the end of the project. That way if something you need or expect is missing, you can follow it up. If the project is time sensitive, or ongoing with certain milestones, you can ask to have these included in your estimate too.

For long-term or high-value projects, a contract might be appropriate, and your designer should be able to provide this if needed.

My hot tip for clients here is to make sure that you sign off unambiguously on any estimates, contracts or agreements on the scope of work. Complete the sign off form if there is one, or reply to emails with language that makes it clear you approve of the agreement (I mean – don’t just write ‘thanks’!) Oh – and if signing off via email, make sure you have hit ‘reply’ to the email containing the version of the agreement you wish to approve.

A bit of care here keeps you in control of the project, and makes the design process a much more relaxed, fun experience. Just the way it should be!

 

4. Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand

Yep, we designers do talk a bit of jargon sometimes. I admit it. I like to think that because I specialise in graphic design for small business that I am a bit less jargony… but no one is perfect all the time…

Definitely ask your designer to explain anything you don’t understand, be it some jargon on the estimate or why the lead time is what it is. Keeping the lines of communication open means you understand your project better, but it also means nothing falls through the gaps.

This is really important when it comes to design decisions. At the proofing stage, it is absolutely acceptable to ask your designer to explain any aspects of their design that you don’t understand or that aren’t sitting right with you. A professional graphic designer will be able to provide a rationale for each of the decisions they have made during the design process. There’s a chance that what looks odd to you might be engineered to appeal to your target market, or may be a response to the technical limitations of print or web. It never hurts to find out.

If you’re looking to take your design critiquing game next level, check out this amazing article about the 30-60-90 Framework by Kayla J Heffernan.

 

5. Proof read carefully

As the client, checking the final proof is your responsibility. No matter how thorough a designer is, they can’t know whether things like the phone numbers, email addresses and other data included in your work are correct. So please check carefully.

It is also notoriously difficult to proof your own work. The human brain is very good at correcting errors as it processes information. So the more eyes on your design project before it is published, the better. It is one of the key elements of the client-designer collaboration.

And just like point number 3 – an unambiguous sign-off is a life-saver.

 

By remembering these 5 easy steps, you will be sourcing, briefing and collaborating with graphic designers like a pro! And having fun doing it.

#graphicdesign #webdesign #smallbusiness #microbusiness #startup #businessstartups #entrepreneur #adelaidesmallbusiness #madeinsouthaustralia #familyrunbusiness #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Everything you need to do or delegate to get your new website up and running

There is absolutely no doubt about it anymore – if you’re running a business it needs an online presence.

In Australia, Internet use is pretty much ubiquitous. Consumers use the web not only to find products and services, but also to research, compare, and ultimately make decisions about who they will buy from. And with COVID-19 forcing everyone indoors, we will be living more and more in the digital space.

So you need to be seen in this digital landscape. But the process of generating this online presence can seem slightly mysterious. The myriad of different options can be confusing. And the whole thing can easily get shelved in the day-to-day of running a small business.

However, with the pandemic slowing many businesses to a standstill, there has never been a better time to work on you business, rather than in it. Creating and perfecting your online presence is an ideal way to tackle the downturn.

To help cut through all this noise, I have put together a checklist that covers everything you need to consider, plan and do to get your business online and in front of the masses. Use it together with my downloadable Ultimate Website Planner to create your own tailored online strategy.

1. The first step is to strategise.

Define your goals, and everything else will flow from there. Work out exactly what you need your online presence to achieve – now and going forward. Completing a formal marketing strategy is a great way to drill down into this, and there are a bunch of great templates available online that make it really easy.

2. Do you need a site? Or can it wait?

In a perfect world, every small business would have its own website. But when you’re starting out, the budget is often tight and there are a million potential demands on your cashflow. A great way to tackle this problem is to plan a staged approach to online – starting with free options like Facebook and Google My Business. Depending on what you need your web presence to achieve, these platforms can be fantastic ways to show your face online whilst planning and budgeting for a dedicated site of your own.

3. Buy a domain name.

Purchase your domain name early – they are cheap to buy and getting the right one is important. A good domain name should be short, relevant, easy to spell and also to type. Consider adding keywords or your location to help you get found in search results. Decide which top level domain is best for you – .com, .com.au – or something completely different. Buying a domain name well before you plan to build a website is a perfectly legitimate strategy. Not only does this ensure you snag the perfect name, but it prevents others from snapping it up in the meantime.

4. Planning – ask yourself some questions.

So you already know what you want your site to do. But assessing things like your budget and how much time you are able to allocate will help you decide on the best solution for creating the site. Also – taking the time to think about the details now will mean you have all the answers when it comes to briefing a professional designer or developer.

Plan not just for the short term, but consider how your site might evolve over time. Websites are easily adaptable, and you can use this flexibility to grow your site with an expanding business, or to deal with short term cash flow by having your site built in stages. Download my nifty Ultimate Website Planner to help you really nail the planning phase of your site.

5. Consider branding.

Ideally, your identity should be in place before you design your site. If you don’t have the budget for a professional rebrand or logo design, carefully consider colours, typefaces and other graphic elements. Cross reference with any existing marketing material you have (like your business card) to make sure they are looking consistent. Check out my 4 rules for small business branding – there’s some great tips in there for branding on a budget.

6. Get hosting sorted.

There are plenty of options out there – research and find the one that suits your budget and needs. Many DIY website builders offer hosting as part of their fees, and some web designers (including Powdermonkey Design) also offer design packages that include hosting.

7. Content creation.

What does you website need to say? How does this content need to be divided up into sections or pages? What images need to go on the site? Either create this content yourself or consider hiring a professional copywriter or photographer to do it.

If you choose to DIY though, find yourself a trusty editor. Make sure you get a second pair of eyes on your copy to check for spelling or grammatical errors, which are notoriously hard to spot in your own work. If you are using your own photos, be brutally honest with yourself – are they well lit, well composed and of good resolution? If the answer is ‘no’, it might be worth hiring a web designer who is also skilled at photo re-touching to give your images a bit of a lift (hint: I know someone!) Another great option is purchasing stock images, or downloading free ones from Pixabay or Unsplash.

Obviously, knocking off someone else’s images and copy from elsewhere on the ‘net is a big no-no!

8. Design & build.

DIY or hiring a professional? Web designer or web developer? When opting to DIY, consider the time involved as well as any ongoing fees. Another thing to think about is the possibility of a total rebuild if you later decide to hand over to a professional, and how this will work. For example, if you choose to create your own website with WordPress it’s easy to hand it over to a professional designer when the time comes. But when using DIY package builders such as Wix this can be trickier.

Also – If you get your site professionally designed but plan to add content yourself, consider the platform your designer is using. Can they provide a solution that allows for simple edits, and do they provide any training or support you might need?

9. What else do I need?

Last but not least, it’s time to think about the little extras that go along with a website, such as an SSL certificate, security, email accounts, updates and backups. Will your web designer be sorting these out for you, or do you need to organise them yourself?

Taking the time to check all the boxes when it comes to website planning can help you to decide on the best solution for creating your site. But it can also help keep costs down when paying a professional to design your site, or to save time and heartache if you opt to build it in-house. Either way, you will have a web presence that is optimised for when you are now, and where you plan to be in the future.

 

#workingon #webdesign #hosting #domainname #smallbusiness #onlinebusiness #entrepreneur #microbusinesslegends #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

What Do I Need to Set Up a Website?

What Do I Need to Set Up a Website?

What Do I Need to Set Up a Website?

And what on earth is the difference between ‘hosting’ and a ‘domain name’?

There’s no arguing that nowadays a web presence is absolutely essential for anyone in business. And there are a myriad of ways to make that happen, from a simple business page on Facebook to a custom-built website. 
 
But for many starting out in business – even those who have been online for years – it can be hard to understand how this website caper works. There’s a whole bunch of weird jargon. There’s a whole bunch of different people offering a bunch of different services, at a bunch of different price points… and often literally bunched together as a package deal. And you don’t even like computers anyway, that’s why you became a plumber…
 
So what do you actually need to get a website up and running? Well, strip it back to the basics and you only need 3 key things; hosting, a domain name and an actual website.
 
Great! But what are those things? The answer is actually pretty simple, when you think of your website as a house that you are about to build.
 
Hosting is the plot of land you are going to build on. It is a chunk of internet real estate that you pay for the use of, normally for a year at a time.
 
A domain name is the address of your plot of land – it’s where people find you. Except in this case you will need to pay for the use of your address – this is also often for a year at a time.
 
The website is the house that you are going to build on your plot of land, at your address.
 

You can take it with you…

The cool thing is, your website ‘house’ is basically going to be a Queenslander, so you can pick it up and move it to a different hosting ‘plot’ any time you like. But unlike a Queenslander, you can take your address with you too!
 
The house analogy even extends to the post-build phase, because like your real house, your website will need maintenance throughout it’s lifespan to keep it secure and up-to-date.
 
Of course before you start, you have to go hunting for the right hosting package, domain name and website solution, and purchase the ones that suit you best. You might buy two or more of these options as a bundle from the same place, or get them all from different providers – it’s up to you. At Powdermonkey Design I provide complete packages including hosting, domain name, custom designed website and maintenance for peeps that don’t want to worry about a thing!
 
So there you have it, the 3 basics behind every website. Hosting. Domain. Website. GO!
 
 
#webdesign #website #hosting #microbusinesslegends #small business #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign