Hiring a designer can really help you build a brand and website that reach your audience and reflect your business. Of course, I'm all for figuring out things on your own when you're just starting your business, but as your business grows, it can make sense to hire out tasks, including design so that you can focus on working on your business.
1. Designers are Experts
Just like you might hire a Virtual Assistant, Copywriter, or Accountant because of their expertise in a field that you aren't as familiar with, you hire a designer for the same reason. Of course, you need to check out a designer before deciding to hire them to make sure that they are going to be professional and deliver what they say they can (check out their portfolio, testimonials, and blog posts), but once you find a solid designer, they can complete the work a lot faster and make it super simple for you to make updates in the future (if that's what you're looking for).
You also need to figure out what you want help with - not all designers do everything. Some just offer brand design, other website design, and others will create packages that include both. You also want to consider the platform that you want to use (such as Squarespace or Wordpress) and find a designer who focuses on that platform.
Many designers have a degree, but not all do. In order to really get a sense of the level of design, make sure to check out their portfolio and ask if you can talk to any previous clients. Even if a designer doesn't have a graphic design degree (mine is in Architecture), they still may have design education that really contributes to their work.
2. Designers can push you
Before I start the actual design work on any project, I give my clients some pretty in-depth and thought-provoking questionnaires. Now, some of the questions are simple, like what colors they like, but others are designed to push past just visual trends into a deeper understanding of my client's business. These include "how you you connect with your ideal clients?" "how is your process unique?" and "what do you want your branding to accomplish?"
By asking these questions, I help my clients dig into their business and really think about what they need out of a brand or website. Many of my clients come back with answers that they didn't expect because they had never thought of those questions before.
3. Designers can see past today
This can be true of a lot of professions - coaches, copywriters, etc. - but I find that as a designer, I have a great outside perspective into my client's business. I get familiar with their message, their ideal audience, and how they work, so that I can tailor their brand and website towards the future instead of where they are today.
For example, if a client wants a website and doesn't think they want e-commerce, I try to think of anything that might need to be sold online in the future. I don't do this because I think they should sell that way (although for many businesses it makes sense), but because I want to build a website that can accommodate growth in the future.
4. Designers become a member of your team
Depending on the designer you hire, many offer priority spots to previous clients. This means that even after your larger project in complete, you can come back to your designer and have them help you with a smaller project without a long wait. Of course, you have to pay for the work, but it can be really helpful to have a designer you can count on who already knows your brand and can build upon it instead of having to go over everything with someone new.
Many of my previous clients consider me as a part of their larger team and they know that if they need something designed, they can reach out. And because I already know their brand and business, I can quickly turn around the project. They don't have to worry about how they're going to design something when they would rather be focusing on growing their business.
5. Designers go past templates
It's no secret that I love Squarespace for website design because it's so easy for my clients to learn, but Squarespace does have some limitations in it's template design. That's why I work hard to customize every website to fit my client's larger brand instead of just accepting the template's limitations. (I wrote a post about some custom CSS you can use on your Squarespace website here.) I may not be able to work around everything - although I will try - but I can do a lot of custom work that transforms a template into a website that represents my client's business.
6. Designers save you time and money
This may seem a little counter-intuitive at first because hiring a designer can be an investment, but it can ultimately save you lots of time, money, and frustration. Most of my clients come to me when they are fed up with trying to build a consistent brand and website on their own. Many are using website builders that either require coding knowledge or have very little flexibility. When I come on board, I'm ready to go on their project because I already have the knowledge I need to build their brand or website (and if I don't, I'm using my time, not their's to figure it out).
Of course, the up front investment can seem like a lot because not only do you have to pay for good design, but you also have to be available to work with your designer and give feedback, but in the end, you get very clear guidelines on using your brand assets and a clean, user-friendly website with a back-end that you can understand.
Designers keep your brand consistent
In a world full of brands and visuals, staying consistent is extremely important if you want people to begin to recognize your work. A designer helps you with that - from setting a color and font palette to laying out exactly how you should use your design assets - your designer will set you up for success.
When I design for my clients, I always design with templates in mind. That way, when they need to update a blog post image or are planning a yearly event, they can use the work I've already done and simply update it with the new information. This keeps everything looking consistent with the rest of their brand with very little effort.
And when it comes to website design, I make sure that all the fonts and colors are set to match their brand so that they don't have to figure out what to use where. Every page is going to be similar to the last (at least in terms of basic design), so that even if they want a sales page that stands out, it still feels like part of the overall site.
Tips for finding a designer
When you're ready to hire a designer to help you build your brand or website, there are a few basic things to look for.
- Check out their work. And not just what's in their portfolio, but also what they share on Instagram, their blog, and what you see on their previous client's websites.
- Take a look at their services. Before you fall in love with a designer, make sure that they offer the types of services that you need. Some designers offer a wide range of options while others stick to just one thing.
- Learn their process. Many designers have a specific process laid out for their projects. You want to find out how they communicate with you, how involved you will be, and when you can reach them. If you work a 9 to 5, but your designer only has meeting times available while you're at work, it could be difficult to work together.
- Get to know them. If you're interested in working with a designer, make sure that you talk to them before signing the contract. I always set up a Skype meeting with interested clients before getting into pricing and contracts so that we can get to know one another and make sure we vibe.
- Ask questions. I encourage my clients and anyone interested in working with me to ask questions. This helps me learn about how they think and what their needs are and it helps you to get the assurance that the designer you hire can do what you need. Don't be afraid to ask questions and listen to how they are answered (even if the answer is "I don't know," you should feel that the person you hire will find out for you).
If you're looking for a designer to help you dig into your brand and help you take your business to the next level, check out my services and see if I would be a good fit for your project.
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Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family. I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.