Why Design Shouldn’t Be Seen As A Luxury
In the years I’ve lived in a smaller city (population 15,000ish) I’ve noticed how design services seem to be more of a luxury than a necessity. More often than not individuals and small businesses would rather do the designs themselves than pay someone else to do it. Sometimes this works out well for them, sometimes it doesn’t. Whether you’re a client or a designer, I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of design no-no’s:
- Papyrus for everything (or anything, really)
- Either using poor quality images or outdated clipart
- Too many fonts
- Kerning that leaves much to desire
- Using color schemes that conflict with one another, rather than complement
- Not leaving enough margin space for printing
- Images that aren’t clear cut (like when you can tell they did the editing in Paint)
- Choosing “fun” fonts that lack readability
Well, you get the idea. There’s a lot questionable design choices out there that make it out into the world when you want to save money and do it yourself (if you have no skill as a designer).
That’s not to say I think it’s wrong if any business chooses to do it in-house, but unless you’ve got a competent designer on your staff it’s usually best to outsource the project. A lot of times when people choose to do it themselves it’s to save money, right? We all know how expensive design can be, depending on the designer and their experience. But if it’s YOUR business that you want to grow and flourish, choosing to hire a designer for your needs will pay off in the long run (assuming they know what they’re doing and you clearly convey what you want).
So what does GOOD design do for you that DIY design doesn’t? I’m glad you asked. As both a designer and a potential customer, here is what jumps out at me when I see good marketing:
Readability: It is SO important that your material is easy to read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a flyer or a postcard and had difficulty reading the text. Sometimes it’s too small, sometimes it’s the font choice or bad kerning; there are plenty of ways this can go wrong. Now, part of this just might be getting older (hey, I’m not that old yet) but when it comes down to your target audience you want more of them to be able to read your content, rather than not, right? Bold, simple headers and simple body text is important. So is placement of your images and how you lay it out, but you get the idea right? Being able to read the content is the highest priority.
Color: Color is good for grabbing the attention of your audience, when it’s done right. If you use too many colors or if you use colors that clash, you’re just going to hurt everyone’s eyes. I mean, c’mon, that’s not good business. Look at what other companies produce. It depends on the product, but generally a particular color scheme will be used that revolves around the logo color. Let’s take Heinz, for example. When you think of Heinz, what do you think? You think of Red and/or Ketchup (which is red), right? Their ads more often than not incorporate red. In this case, their current logo doesn’t have much red but since they’re known for their ketchup, red is what comes to mind. This is effective.
Contrast: In terms of design there’s little quite like looking at design that displays a good balance of contrast (it’s not just me, right?) You can draw your audience in with good contrast without color. Sure, it has to be executed properly but sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity in this case.
Images/Photos: When I see clear, crisp illustrations or photography it tells me “Hey, that business knows what they’re talkin’ about” or “Wow, that’s super creative; I need to check them out” or really, just shows me how serious they are at succeeding. What I mean by that is, when I see poor design I’m more likely to pass them by because it gives off the feeling I can’t take them seriously. They almost don’t seem as trustworthy as a business with good design, you know? And considering your content will be displayed alongside other companies you don’t want to push potential customers away because you wanted to save money.
And these are just some things that come to mind when I look at design. There are plenty of other things that factor into what makes a design successful or not, and there will be times that opinion is subjective. It just can’t be helped with any creative field and it’s going to vary from product to product. Culture plays a part in it too.
My point though is if you really want your business to succeed, spending money on design services will payout in the long run. Especially if you consider how long you intend to use that material, probably for awhile right? Whether it’s a website, flyers, postcards, or whatever else you think up, it’ll help you connect with people you might not have otherwise reached.
So I implore you, seek out a designer. Discuss your ideas, time frame, costs/budget, limitations, etc. You may be surprised at what they bring to the table. And of course, regardless of the designer or the client it is my opinion that the best ideas come from more than just yourself. Wouldn’t you rather awe and inspire, rather than distance, your audience?