At one point or another, any business needs design to ensure its growth. It's important to understand why design is part of each step of the consumer decision journey and why the services of professionals designer are sometimes necessary.
Why should I spend more money on a so-called professional than on professional online tools?
Because like having a calculator doesn't turn you into an accountant, having a designer program doesn't turn you into a designer.
A design can be a real success, but also a real disaster. Bad design is like a time bomb: by the time you realize things haven't gone as expected, chances are it's already too late and you've lost customers. Which is why tapping into the expertise of designers is highly recommended.
"Designers? They're just so-called artists that create useless & overpriced objects!"
Incredibly, the famous ones aren't unhappy with that description. But this is maybe 1% (or even less) of all designers.
What really is a designer's job?
It's creating something that's stylish, functional, feasible and, most importantly, useful.
Design includes much more than just objects. Design can be divided into 3 subcategories:
- Graphic design: meant to be printed or shown on a screen (logos, flyers, leaflets, etc.)
- Interaction design: creating simple and efficient user interfaces (e.g. website & program navigation)
- Industrial design: design of physical objects with production in mind (cars, chairs, radiators, etc.)
What is design used for?
What makes a great company? Great branding? Great products? Great website? Evidence shows it's a mix of all these things.
Giving your business a visual identity is key to its survival. Building a company's identity is a tough job, but it's what will visually differentiate you from your competitors. Researches show that a brand’s identity is sometimes as strong as the product itself. Think about Apple - they have been able to build such strong brand identity that seeing their logo is enough to create a point of attraction.
But where does this excitement come from? As well as the quality of their products, there's also strong marketing. Your business can only copy this winning formula if your customers have a great experience when they visit your website and when they use your products. This is where the Interaction & Industrial Designers' roles becomes really important.
The interaction designer will ensure that your website is smooth and easy to navigate, so that visitors stay on your site as long as possible. The interaction designer will also work on the interface of the software (and products) you develop to create a seamless and fluid system. When it comes to this, some companies put in more effort than others and it’s really not hard to spot who has and who hasn't.
The industrial designer is production-oriented. His tasks are usually concentrated on a physical object, although he has authority in other fields too. His task is very complex, having to take into account the style while making sure the product can be manufactured at a reasonable cost and that it does what it functions as it's supposed to. The industrial designer is part artist, part engineer and part labourer. They works at all levels of development, so they're an all-arounder, with a view of every step of the development - from R&D to the production line.
Once you've put in all this effort into your business, it'll be much easier to assure its growth and keep your strategy on track. You can never guarantee success but trying to do all the right things will give you a better chance.
Freelance, design agency or in-house?
So you've chosen to go for professional services, which is really great. However, there are lots of designers out there, so how do you know which one to hire? Let me help you assess your needs.
There are tons of agencies and freelancers specializing in the branding of companies.
A freelance designer is usually less expensive, but will naturally take more time to complete a full branding assignment, so I recommend them for smaller jobs such as a logo, a letterhead, etc. An agency is better equipped to handle larger-scale works such as a full branding, complete website design or a makeover. The agency can even the create all your product sheets.
Choosing the right one isn't easy, but the best way is to check their existing clients and see if you like what they've been doing for them. You can even analyze the results to see if it paid off.
You will probably need new material at some point, such as packaging. Depending on the frequency of this, it might be worth employing a full-time in-house graphic designer. If not, keep a good freelancer as a contact and send out new jobs as and when they arise.
Design of user interface
Playing an integral role in the development of your product, it's very important for the interaction designer to have a consistent overview. They'll therefore need to be included in the whole process as a full-timer.
Just like the interaction designer, industrial designers will have less interest in working with you on a part-time basis because of their need to connect to each part of the development process. If you can't afford to employ someone full-time, you can hire them as a contractor for a certain amount of time, until they've finished their work and you're ready to move onto the production phase. However, finding development flaws during the early stages of production is common. Your designer will need to check again.
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