For many people, perception is reality. What that means to you is that your prospects are probably judging you for the way you present yourself and your business. It’s kind of like judging a book by its cover. So if they’re visiting your website, and something about your business or product gives the wrong impression, your prospects will click away. That’s why you’ll want to invest time and money in your designs.
Compile a List
Your first step is to determine where all you need a designer’s touch in your business. Use this list to kick off your brainstorming:
- Ecover graphics.
- Business logo.
- Web graphics.
- Web page design/layout.
- Interior design for ebooks, reports, etc.
- Layout and design for tools (worksheets, checklists, etc.).
- Newsletter templates.
- GUI for software, apps and plugins.
- Video graphics (e.g., templates and graphics for a slide-share video).
- Webinar graphics.
- Social media graphics.
- Graphics and design for offline content such as flyers, postcards, etc.
The above list is just a start – be sure to add any items to your list that are specific to your business.
Choose: DIY or Outsource?
Now decide if you should do layouts, designs and graphics yourself or outsource it to a pro. Ask yourself these questions:
“Do I have the skills necessary to produce a polished, professional layout/design/graphic?”
If your efforts look very amateurish, then it’s best to leave this task to a professional. That’s because your graphics create a first impression when people see your advertisements or arrive on your website, so you want this first impression to be a good one.
“Do I have access to and experience with the tools needed to create graphics/layout/design?” (E.G., Photoshop, Canva, Gimp, etc.)
Take note that purchasing a good tool can be somewhat expensive, which may be a factor in your decision. However, what’s an even bigger hurdle is whether you know how to use these tools effectively. Simply put, you can’t get access to a tool today and expect to be able to create professional graphics by tomorrow.
“Can I obtain some of my needed graphics through a stock photo site such as istockphoto.com or depositphoto.com?”
In most cases, you’ll probably want to tweak your photos or get custom graphics created. However, there are cases where you can save time and money on graphics by purchasing stock images. One example is when you’re looking for relatively generic images to post alongside a blog post.
If you choose to outsource, then consider finding a designer in these ways:
• Search for a designer or graphics artist on Google. Be sure to check both the organic search results as well as the sponsored ads.
• Ask colleagues for recommendations. One of the benefits of this method is that it cuts down your due diligence work (if you trust the person offering the recommendation).
• Check Fiverr.com. This works best if you’re seeking simple graphics, such as a tweak on a stock photo.
• Post a project on upwork.com, freelancer.com or guru.com. Be as detailed as possible with your brief in order to attract the best candidates.
• Visit business and design groups online. This includes forums as well as Facebook groups. You can then ask for recommendations.
• Spread the word across your networks. Send out an email about your needs, blog about it, and post on social media. With luck, you may have a talented designer in your network. If nothing else, you may encounter someone who “knows someone who knows someone.”
• Look locally. Still another way to find a designer is to post a local want ad. You can do this in a local Facebook group (search for a marketplace group in your city). You can also check the bottom of websites belonging to local businesses, as web designers often link to their sites.
Be sure to do your due diligence so that you work with reputable, talented designers. Here are the steps to take:
• Ask for references. Then follow up with these references to determine if the designer displays a professional attitude and turns work in on time.
• Check the designer’s portfolio. Be cautious if all the designs look very similar, as that may be a sign that the designer has limited capabilities or creativity.
• Review the freelancer’s feedback ratings (where applicable). If the freelancer performs work on freelancing sites such as Fiverr.com or Upwork.com, then you can check his or her feedback and ratings.
• Do some Google research. Search for the designer’s name, business name and website in Google. See if you uncover any red flags, such as a designer accused of stealing work, or even a designer who doesn’t meet deadlines.
• Ask about the designer’s policies (especially those related to pricing). For example, will the designer do any revisions for free? If so, what types of revisions? It’s important you fully understand the policies, as this is the only way to compare prices across designers.
Don’t pick your designer based on the person with the lowest price. Instead, use your due diligence research to guide you towards the designer who best fits your needs.
In all cases, you’re looking for a designer with a long, established history of providing good work for clients. If you see any red flags (such as a designer who doesn’t honor his terms by not offering revisions or refunds where allowed), then move on and find someone else.
Once you’ve selected a designer, then be sure to create a detailed brief. Your brief should answer the following questions for your designer:
• What type of graphic do you need? Describe the graphic, being sure to be clear about whether you need something completely custom or whether tweaks to a stock image would be sufficient.
NOTE: Be as detailed as possible when you describe the graphic. Your description should detail what you envision as far as the images, colors, and anything else.
• What is the purpose of this graphic? How will it be used?
• Will there be text on the graphic? If so, what is the text?
• Is this a static image (like a .jpg) or a .gif? If it’s a .gif, what will each frame depict?
• Who is the audience for this graphic? List their demographics here, such as “middle-age women who want to lose weight.”
• Does the graphic need to be in a format suitable for offline printing? (Note that graphics you intend to print require a much higher resolution, which is why your designer needs to know if this graphic will be printed.)
• Do you need the graphic in different sizes? If so, what sizes?
• In what format or formats would you like the finished graphic? (E.G., in .jpg format.)
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to show examples to your designer to help them get a better idea of what you’re envisioning. For instance, you might show your designer the types of fonts you like. Or if you want an illustration of a dog, you might show them four or five illustrations that are similar to what you’re envisioning.
When you show an example, be very specific regarding what it is you like about that example. E.G., “I like the colors used in this graphic, particularly that specific shade of blue.”
Another example: “I really like the whimsical look of this illustration of a dog, particularly its eyes, and I would like an illustration that captures this same whimsy. Here are two more examples of whimsical dogs…” Next step…
Create a Great Impression
Whether you’re creating the layout and graphics yourself or outsourcing the task, ask yourself these questions about the finished product:
• Does the layout and design look professional and make a good impression?
• Does the graphics/design capture the essence of the product, content or website? Are the graphics relevant?
• Are the graphics eye-catching?
• Are the graphics simple (e.g., users can understand them with one quick glance)?
• Do the graphics integrate your branding where applicable?
• Are the graphics oriented in a way that draws the viewer’s eyes in and naturally leads them to looking at the text on the page?
If you have a particularly important graphic – such as an ecover graphic that you’re using to sell a product – then don’t just use your intuition and preferences to decide if a graphic is good enough. Instead, have your designer create multiple images, and then test these images to see which ones produce the best results.
The key to this sort of split-testing is to be sure that the ecover graphic is the ONLY difference between the two sales pages that you’re testing. The title of the product, the price, the headline, the call to action, the overall design of the website and everything else should remain exactly the same. That way, if there is a difference in conversion rates, you can be certain that it’s due to the graphic (and not some other variable).
Remember, presentation is just as important as information. That’s why you’ll want to invest time and money in making your products look great both on the inside and outside. And you’ll want to create a great impression with professional graphics in all your communications, including emails, blog posts, social media posts, slide shares, videos and more.