A web design firm's perspectives on beautiful website design, content generation, and Search Engine Optimization; including insights on branding and low budget/no budget marketing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The relationship between your business and your designer is key to brand harmony

Do you have a web designer?

If the answer is yes, you will certainly have an opinion about yours.  Most people highly recommend their web designer, or they run away screaming in pain and agony about the experience.  Needless to say, there is hardly anyone out there that has worked with a designer with whom they simply feel ho-hum about.

Choosing a designer is one of the most important things you can do for your business - let me repeat that - one of the most important things you can do for your business!  Hiring a designer means you are entrusting someone, typically a stranger, with your brand - a brand that you are either hoping to develop, or have spent years developing and the right designer can make your brand stand on its own, while the wrong designer can send your business crashing to the ground.

Relationships have chemistry, trust, honesty, integrity and they take work.  Finding the right designer is a lot like navigating online dating sites and going on blind dates that your friends and colleagues set you up with.

Like any relationship, there are a few rules that should apply:

Just say no to blind dates....
Aunt Agnes has set you up in the past with some of the most atrocious excuses for a date imaginable, so when she recommends you work with her best friend's nephew's ex-girlfriend because she is going to school for graphic design, you should probably run away screaming.  The chances that said best friend's nephew's ex-girlfriend is really worth your time and money is slim, and if she is in school it's even less likely that she will have time for your project - look at your source, does Aunt Agnes have a good track record with you? Does the person making this recommendation have any personal experience with the designer? If the answer is no, walk away now. 

Find someone you know, who's designs you LOVE  (think logo, biz card, brochures, pamplets) and ask them about it.  People who love their designers are always willing to give good recommendations and they will be upfront with you if there is something they did or didn't like.  They'll be happy to hear that they hired the right person and that their work made a good impression - and chances are if you decide to work with their designer, you may get a cost break for being 'in' with one of their happiest clients. 

Cheap does not mean good....
McDonald's is a cheap date, not a good date.  Good, Cheap, Fast.  You can have any two, but never all three.  Good design really fast should cost you.  Cheap design really fast probably won't be very good. Cheap design that's really good, probably won't be finished in a very timely manner.  If you are strapped for cash, but love a certain designer - don't be afraid to explain your situation. There are many designers who will work with payment plans if you can at least put down a deposit.

Know that the designer you are working with is making their living providing you with this service - their business is just as important to them as your business is.  Please try to avoid exaggerated expressions in regards to costs - if your design work looks like it was easy, then your designer did a very nice job and they deserve to be paid for it, this is not an easy job.  

Do a little research.....
It's unlikely that you have gone out on a date without doing a little Facebook stalking - you should do the same with any potential designer you work with.  Look at their portfolio, request a list of clients you can call and talk to about their experience working with the designer, ask to see their 3 most recent projects, look at their website, Facebook stalk them, follow them on Twitter, are they a legitimate business entity, how long have they been in business?

The designer will want to know just as much about you and your business.  Afterall, this is going to be a mutual relationship and your designer will want to make sure that you are a legitimate business too.  Interview your designer, request a meeting at your office - or theirs if they have one.  Choosing to work long distance? Skype them - contact them and find a way to get face time.  This is a great way to establish if they are professional, business oriented, well-spoken, organized and timely.  Put the time in now to get to know them so that you aren't throwing money away later. 

Chemistry is key....
So your date walks the walk and talks the talk, but you're just not that into him? GOOD! You aren't feeling the chemistry, you know its not right - talking with this person is like licking a bug zapper, it totally sucks and you aren't looking forward to the next encounter.  Walk away now! This cannot be stressed enough - walk away now.  At this moment you are only in the interview stage, what happens down the road when there is a problem? A really tight deadline? Or there is a little strain on the relationship? If there is no chemistry now, you can bet there will be misses in the future.

Finding a designer that you mesh with is perhaps the most important thing to look for.  Your designer should be able to provide you with something that you may not even be able to properly articulate - and that can only be achieved through chemistry.  When you say something like "I really like the way the Starbucks Website looks, but I hate all that black, green and white." Your designer should respond with a smile and a nod and then turn around and ask you some leading questions that help you delve into what it is you really like.  You want someone to be able to read you - someone who gets you! Yes, its very hard to find, yes, it may take awhile - but all the worthy relationships are that way.  If your business is that important to you, you will take the time now to avoid the problems that are certain to arise in the future. 

All in all, take your time, find someone you like - someone you trust, and someone you can be honest with.  Look at their portfolio, make sure you like their style, their personality and the way they do business.  The right designer is out there - and Aunt Agnes probably won't know them!

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