A bit of self-disclosure here. I'm writing with a little bit of fire in my belly which is inspired by the recent cringe-worthy exercises of "Doing it yourself" (DIY) that I've just witnessed; combined with blog deprivation. For obvious reasons, the title of this blog might be a bit misleading. We should all have goals and ideally, we should aspire to achieve them. However, from a business standpoint, it's best to be fully aware of what you're getting yourself into before getting started. Especially, if that crazy thought of doing it yourself starts eating away at you. Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn't start your next business design project just yet.
They often say that the true currency of life is time. Yea, time and not money. Don't get me wrong I know the major purpose of most businesses is to make a profit and in our capitalist society, make a buck load of it as well. However, when you start off trying to do your next design project as a non-designer you can waste time doing the wrong things that might seem right initially. Consider the following scenarios I just witnessed.
If you’re like me, you probably get lots of e-mails or calls proposing to give you a website or a website re-design. If you’re like most business owners who might not be technologically savvy when it comes to these matters. Your first instinct is to think “Great another web designer trying to take my money” or “I already have a website and I don’t need their services”. The thing is you might very well be right but you could also be wrong. So, below is a checklist of things to look out for to know if you indeed do need a re-design or even a website if you haven’t got one already.
Mobile responsiveness is really the ability for your website to be accessible on various devices. The importance of this is that in today’s fast paced world is that both you and your clients are doing business on the go; therefore, information should be easily accessible to both parties and shouldn’t be restricted by your device. Overall, this improves the efficiency of doing business, which is a win-win for you and your clients. If you look at the attached screenshot examples below from www.suzannecollinsbooks.com and CFR and Associates from your mobile device, you will see that both sites aren’t mobile accessible. In other words, besides the other features listed below you literally, have to pinch and expand your screen to view and read the information on those sites. www.cstreethairsalon.com designed by Uzo Design is a site that is mobile optimized. Which is more accessible from your hand-held device?
Facebook Ad: For promotions involving sales of discount or pretty much anything. A tool you can use is the Facebook ad. It allows you to select your target audience in terms of interests, profession, age and geographic education. So, if you have a dance studio in San Diego, California you can run an ad targeting people from that part of the country that meet your other requirements. A Facebook ad can cost you as little as $5/day to, however, much you’re willing to spend. Even if Facebook is not your social media of choice. Other social media platforms have their own forms of advertising. Something that’s especially good about running a social media ad is that it reaches most of the people in your social network and the people connected to them. If you haven’t tried it before I encourage you to give it a shot. If you’re not very computer savvy, feel free to contact Uzo Design to help you with that.
Social Media Banner: In the situation of keeping you on clients’ minds or simply just celebrating the holiday spirit one way to do this is by temporarily switching the design of your social media banner to capture the holiday theme. If you’re not sure how to create the social media banner for your platform. There are tools out there on sites like canva.com or stocksnap.io that have preset templates or sizes of various social media platform where you can generate upload your own images or simply use theirs.
Pop-Up Ads: Although, people may find pop-ups annoying, it all really depends on how you set it up to function. All the same, they are a very good way to catch people’s attention with what you want to promote since they are in your face. Alternatively, you can always use a static banner strip that can be displayed at the very top of your website. It allows people to opt-in to your offers.
App Notification: If you haven’t gone to the cool route to developing an app for your business you should seriously consider it especially if you have a huge fan base or clients who patronize you. The great thing about apps is that since everyone has their cell phones with them almost everywhere they go, they are easier to reach. Apps allow you to send notifications that pop up on people’s phones so they can see your offers simply click on it and be taking to it.
Website Banners: You can also use a website banner that briefly displays your offer and links to the page with your promotion.
Video Ad: You can create and run a video ad as part of your social media promotion and include a call to action at the end of the video or attach a link to your social media page. Here’s a video sample from Uzo Design. Just remember to tailor your video to the season you’re using it for.
Hopefully, these pointers will help you successfully reach your next holiday goals. Are there any other tools you use to a great effect that we didn’t cover? Please, free to share.
The holidays are upon us and for some reason, it is a time when people are more inclined to spend money for various reasons. As a business owner or organization, what is your plan to engage them using your online presence?
Here are a few suggestions of what you can do this holiday season: Boost sales, show your customers how much you appreciate them or simply staying on your clients’ minds until the next time they are in need of what you have to offer.
As stated above the holidays can be a very good time to boost sales if your business is in a dull state of affair. There are several ways you can do this, depending on the nature of your business. If you’re a product based business it would mean that you may have to take a different approach compared to a service based business or an organization. All the same here are a few things you can do to boost your business sales during these holidays.
Discounted sales: you can run a sales promotion that is for a limited time period. For example, if you’re a company that sells handbags you can offer a buy one get half off or 20% off promotion. The trick is to create a certain window of opportunity for people to take advantage of this offer. You want this window to be at a duration revolving around the specific holiday. If it’s too long people may feel they have all the time in the world t act and may delay taking action.
Contest: You can also run a contest that offers people a reward for their participation. Right now, Uzo Design is running a photography contest for Halloween offering the $25 and other prices. The goal of this contest is to generate more buzz around Uzo Design in order to engage existing clients, fans, and potential clients. The idea is for them to share their Halloween images with us on our social media pages or through our website in hopes to increase our traffic, boost our relevance on search engines and hopefully generate some new sales. Besides, it will be cool to see all the costumes ideas people have to share from their Halloween events.
Referral incentives: This is also a good time to ask people who might visit your website or Facebook or other social media pages for referral in exchange for a reward.
Call to Action: People are often in an emotional mood during the holidays. What better time than then to rally them to support a cause that your Not-For-Profit Organization is standing behind?
“Begin with the end in mind” is a quote by the late Stephen Covey that every business or organization should adapt in their design making decisions. This might sound like a no-brainer. However, in my experience with clients, a lot of them seem to forget this. In this situation “the end” is the organization’s public or target audience. Why does this matter?
Simply put without your customers (target audience) your business or organization will cease to exist or exist without much substance. Yeah, that’s pretty much it, end of the blog you can now go back to surfing the net. Alright, I’m kidding there’s more to it. So, let me break it down. Your target audience determines your brand and your organization’s goals. This includes your design decision as well. However, by beginning with the end in mind you get to have a greater control in which direction your brand goes; which is what most clients who come to designers want anyway.
The simple answer to the above question is that you should use both. So, now you can stop reading. Just kidding, please continue reading. A lot of people tend to think that once they have a social media page they don't need a website and then there are others who don't see the need for a social media presence. I suppose if they uneducated about the subject then to each their own. However, the main issue I have found is people who think that their social media page(s) is doing the work of a website. In most cases the people involved don't know any better. So, here's what you need to know about the subject.
The most important thing to take away is that social media (which is a type of website) and your traditional website were designed for different purposes. Although, it's fair to say the similarity they both share is to engage people. So, when it comes down to the everyday use they serve different purposes. However, as a business or organization, you should use both to maximize your reach.
I like to think of social media as a spokesperson for your organization at a conference or your organization's booth at a trade show or exhibition. They can engage people and show off certain aspects of your business. However, you are using them to draw people into further engaging with your organization at a later time or have a live conversation. As the name implies it is for a social interaction and depending on the nature of your entity, you might not even need a social media page.
Last week I was with a potential client who told me that his previous experience with designers has been bad because they ignored what he wanted and just did whatever they wanted. This got me thinking, are designers an arrogant bunch?
Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself arrogant but then again that’s just my opinion isn’t it? However, I do think back on my college days and recall vividly a few arrogant designers that I knew at that time in my life. There was Maddie who knew better than everyone including our professors and she saw every constructive criticism as an invitation for conflict; which she was hell bent on winning. There was Leigh who was widely praised and whose work I admired; However, she was very snooty and secretive. Knowing what I know now perhaps it helps to put things in context. More on this later.
My freelance working experience has been a mixed blessing. I’ve mostly had great clients who gave me the opportunity to share in their dreams and project; many of them were genuinely happy with the work I had done for them. Some of whom I have stayed friends/acquaintances with till this day. The few that I had bad experiences with will only fall into the client from hell category. Do see my blog on that. My experience has put me in the path of clients who wanted ridiculous things like using a photograph mixed in with other complicated elements to form a logo, ignoring the warnings that this doesn’t work and then coming back to have it changed to another ridiculous version.
Then there are other clients who want to be overly involved in the design process and I get that they are paying for this. Still you wouldn’t tell your doctor how best to treat you, otherwise why hire him? However, by wanting to be involved they end up getting in the way. They nit-pick at various details that aren’t relevant to the overall success of the project.
As a designer I want the best for my clients because their success also reflects on me. My process has generally been to find out what the client wants, see what they need while using my design education and artistic style to solve the problem. In other words, finding a harmonious common ground that will solve the design problem at hand. The issue I’ve observed with some clients is that because they are hiring you to do the job they feel they know better than you and what is best for the project to succeed. So, if you were to offer a design solution that goes against what they have in mind they get upset and say that the designer isn’t following their requests.
As a designer one of the things that stayed with me through my education is that you begin with the target audience in mind or as the late Steven Covey put it “Begin with the end in mind”. One of the reasons I love the consultation session with a client prior to the start of a new design project is because it allows me to get a better understanding of them, their target audience and what they want. Sadly, enough half of the clients I’ve worked with were focused on themselves; and weren’t even sure who their target audience were or had a really broad range of target audience. I can see why a client would get upset and view a designer as arrogant for not giving him what he wants; when what he needs would best serve his target audience and him or her in the long run. If a client can convince me from a business aspect why a certain design decision is good or bad for the goal of the project, I am willing to make adjustments.
When I look back at my classmates Maddie and Leigh I am forced to consider, that though they may be designers their personalities will always come to the front. To be fair to them to being in the design program in college had a lot of prestige attached to it. If your work your good, you got recognition for it and everyone talked about you. This probably made people take more ownership of their work, even it is to the point of ego investment. That type of environment can often bring out competitive side of people and what might seem like arrogance is just their way of trying to stand out. I believe the same thing applies to clients as well who are probably accomplished in their fields and thinks that makes them qualified to judge what design is best for their project.
So, what has your experience been with designers? Do you still think they are an arrogant bunch? Leave your comments below.
This is probably just my opinion and you are more than welcome to disagree with me. For a while I have been under the impression that good customer service is dying. Although, all the cool marketing tools and resources out there today might imply otherwise.
As a designer I have to sell my services to potential clients and it can be very rewarding, challenging and at times disheartening. All the same while doing this I have come to discover that it seems that most clients who seem to have a satisfactory amount of business coming in don't seem to really care about their clients.
There seems to be either one of two things going on. The first is actually design requests from them that cry "me, me, mine, mine" while implying "I'm paying you so me, me, my way , how I want it". What about their customers? How does their design demands reflect good customer service? The second thing going is clients or potential clients' attitude that if business is great why bother going out of their way to enhance current client or potential client experience.
It seems that many clients who contact designers for work to be done for them aren’t prepared most of the time. It’s hard to tell if this is a personality flaw or just lack of education. However, all hope is not lost. Here’s a basic guide of five ways you can prepare for the design of your new website.
One thing I’ve noticed is that many clients call asking for design work without having any idea of how much it should cost; once they have been told the price they assume it’s expensive, which shows that they might have not done some research. The truth is that design prices for your website may vary depending on what type of website you are looking to build. Still it’s a good idea to have a general idea of price range so you can budget accordingly. A quick way to get an idea is to contact designers and ask for a quote, be sure to supply them with basic information of what type of site you want and its functionality so you can get the right quote. Make sure your budget takes into account extras like feature services from 3rd party sites, as well as hosting and domain name. These are not generally included in the design fees.
Research The Designer’s Style
Most designers have samples of their work on their site. So, look through their portfolio of works to find out which designer’s style appeals to you. You should do this so that you know what to expect once work has commenced. As you pick your designer it is important to keep your target audience in mind. The reason for this is to make sure that the style of the designer you’re picking meshes with those of your target audience.
It is safe to assume that prior to getting your website built, that you have some sort of vision about the image you want your organization or business to have. There are probably similar organizations to yours whose practices you admire. Yes, it is also assumed that you want your organization to stand out. There’s nothing wrong with having an initial frame of reference.
So, what should do next? Collect links of examples of websites that inspire you for your designer to use as a source of reference. In addition to links, you can take screen shots of these websites, while making notes of how you want yours to differ; or you can simply leave that up to your designer.
Gather the contents of your new site
As a designer one of the difficulties of working with clients is getting contents to work with from them. Clients won’t supply contents in a timely manner and expect the work to be completed in time. Design work isn’t magic. Below is a checklist of the kinds of content you would need to gather. Please beware that this isn’t an extensive list but a good guide for a starting point.
· List of menus: Think of them as folders and arrange them as you would like them to be viewed.
· Copy for each individual page you would like to see on the site. Don’t forget to include your terms of service.
· Contact information
· Pictures, videos and links. As far as pictures go if you’re on a limited budget you may want to consider using stock photography to find images that reflects your organization. Some sites such www.bigstockphotos.com have a Free 7 days trial that allows you to download 5 pictures each day. This is something you should definitely take advantage of or you can leave it up to your designer to select the images for you.
· Testimonials from your clients that should be on your site
· Set up your social media pages: Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ etc. and get the links for each of those sites. If you’re not social media savvy then find someone who is to set these up for you otherwise you might have to pay your designer a little extra to set these up for you.
· PayPal, Square Register, Google wallet accounts etc. if you plan to accept payments on your site.
· Keywords related to your organization or business’s industry for your basic SEO.
· Create a Google account that will be affiliated to your site. It is important for your analytics and SEO
Set Up SEO and Advertising Services
It’s one thing to have a great site that people can check out but most importantly it’s best if you can be found online by people in need of your services, otherwise what’s the point in having the website? Some recommended sites for these services are Yelp, Google, Yext etc.
After you’ve done all these things or at least 75% of them, by all means go ahead and contact your Web Designer. This will make his job easier and in return you are likely to get your website up and running in a timely manner and avoid the extended back and forth of the designer wanting x, y and z from you. What did you find helpful in this article and is there anything missing that should’ve been added to this list?
It is never an easy thing making that bold move of starting a new project. However, for those of us who dare, we know the excitement that comes along with the ideas that floods our minds. This excitement often comes from the possibilities of sharing our passion with the world. So, how should you start out on your new project?
Well, if you are starting a new project that involves any kind of design, whether it is print or web based; you should start off right, by talking to the right designer. Doing this will obviously involve research on your part or referrals from friends. Doing your research first, will keep you well informed on things like pricing, duration of the design work etc. The purpose of this research is to lead you to the right designer. It might seem like the obvious decision to start off one’s design project with a designer still many skip this step only to regret it later. One quick way to judge a designer’s reputation is to look at their testimonials and reviews, especially if the designer isn’t one that wasn’t personally referred to you.
Some common mistakes I’ve witnessed from people starting off anew project on their own, is making design based decisions while being uninformed. Some people will purchase domain names that might sound right at the time but may not work for the projects they have in mind. It could be something along the lines of having a long name that their audience might not remember for their website, using the wrong color for their logo, using a wrong name or even starting the project with a non-designer only to realize later that it looks bad. This eventually leads to wasted time and money on having to fix these mistakes later.
Even if you are not totally ready to move on with the project, you can always pay a designer for consultation to acquire the right knowledge. When you finally get ready to start off on your new project you are well informed, know what to do and expect.
Don’t forget starting off a new project without a designer to save costs, can cost you more in the long run. As a designer what kinds of mistakes have you had to fix for your clients? As a client what kinds of mistakes have you made on a new project that could have been avoided?