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.
A friend who has a cleaning company decided he was going to start a Facebook page for his business, which is a good idea when you consider that Facebook is a very good place to market today. The problem was that he started off by creating a personal Facebook page for his business page. The problem with this scenario is that by doing so he can't run Facebook ads, neither can he leverage all those existing Facebook relationships he has. After I told him that this was the wrong way to go about it, without waiting to hear me out, he goes and creates a Facebook business page using that same Personal Business Facebook he created earlier, and to up the ante, he sends me an invitation to like the page. At that point, I reached for my Wesson Smith to shoot myself (Ok, I'm kidding. I'm not even a gun owner). Granted this Facebook faux pas is not the most time-wasting endeavor you've probably witnessed; imagine how much time others are wasting on a similar DIY design project.
Remember if you waste money there's still a chance you can get it back but wasted time is not something you can get back.
When you start uninformed about a project there's a high chance you will be wasting a lot of money as well. From a design point of view, this could entail paying for the wrong things. Which could be in terms of manpower, print cost, a taken business name etc.
In the case of the Facebook friend, I mentioned above. He had asked me what I thought of his business page. The image that was used for his Facebook banner and logo had nothing to do with his business and the image was fuzzy. He then tells me he and his partner had printed brochures like the Facebook banner. I wanted to say, "YAY! You get an A for consistency" but I chose to listen to the white Angel standing on my right shoulder and not be a $#@K. Anyway, it got me wondering how many brochures they printed, if the job was badly done and most importantly how much money they WASTED printing those.
Most times when people find out they've made the wrong design decision and want to right that wrong it ends up costing them more time and money; a scenario that would have been avoided had they made the right decision from the very start.
Ruining Your reputation
In all honesty, if a business offers quality products and services. I am willing to bet that most people would be very forgiving towards their design faux pas. As with most things, there are going to be the exceptions to the rule.
A lot of business owners trying to cut the corner by the DIY method, often fail to realize the negative impressions that their botched design decisions/jobs give them. Often time these negative impressions cost them in terms revenue. They say the first impression is everything. So, when a business owner turned Designer overnight decides to use the wrong font, color and images for their website etc.; and a potential client visit and thinks they must not provide quality service or product and decides not to use them that is a sale they've missed out on.
This brings me to my 2nd cringe-worthy example of a buddy I met in a meetup group and we got to talking. I tell him I'm a Graphic /Web Designer and he tells me he's an Artist. The conversation progresses and he reveals that he's been trying to create a website for himself using a platform. So, I look at his site and offer him my design services. He says he can't afford it. I try to offer him a few cost-effective solutions to which he says, "I'll do it myself if I'm having a hard time doing it I'll get back to you". So, I said OK. Once again Facebook was the bearer of bad news when he sent me a friend request and a link to his new website. I accepted his invitation and as I prepared to click the link I just had this gut feeling that I shouldn't. Against my better judgment, I clicked it and there it was 5 different clashing fonts, overlapping texts, wrong use of drop shadow, slightly fuzzy images and the notoriously Papyrus font (derided in the design world) there in all its glory scribbled across most of his art pieces. There are some things you can't be unseen, this was one of them. I wonder if he thought to himself, "Yea, look at my masterpiece. Who needs a Designer"?
If you're like me, I get tired of people pointing out all the problems without offering a solution. So, while it's not advisable to go the DIY route with design projects especially if you have no design experience.
The 1st thing that I would recommend is to schedule a design consultation with a Designer. To find out what needs to be done to have your projects completed and done right. Set aside a budget to pay for this consult. Some Designers might offer a free consultation session others may not. If you must pay, it would be money well spent to save you some trouble down the road.
2nd thing you should do is go learn some basic design principles on YouTube or Lynda.com. The 3rd thing is to find a great example of what you want to accomplish and copy it. There's no need to worry about coming across as authentic. While authenticity if highly recommended, I doubt anyone would hold it against you as a non-designer if you created a close to professional unauthentic design work. If you lack imagination and creativity this would be the way to go.
Finally, look for shortcuts to help you achieve your design solutions. There are so many free tools or subscription based tools that can save you time and money. I'd tell you but hey, why would you need a Designer if we gave it all away for free? Although, by the time you get through numbers 1 to 4 in this solution section, you just might realize how much time you've spent DIY when you could've paid a Designer to get it done while you handle the business side of things you're much better at.
Is there anything that I left out of this blog and do you have any time wasting, money wasting and reputation ruining stories to share about people who tried to do it themselves? I'd love to read all about it.