Does design matter in small businessLet me ask you this:

  • Do you care about what your customers think of you?
  • Is growing your business important to you?
  • Do you want people to actually hear what you have to say?

If you confidently answered “Yes” to those questions, chances are design should matter to your business no matter what the size. Design is all around us and is incorporated into everything we see, influencing the perceptions others have of your brand and business.

Adam Tolman, the director of product design at Lendio, went as far as to say, “it could be argued that at no other point in human history has design been so valued – and important – in both our personal and professional lives.” We agree with Adam (at least on the professional side) because we acknowledge how good design

  • impacts businesses,
  • can positively influence performance,
  • and can help businesses generate leads.

Importance of Design by the Numbers

A few years ago, 99designs conducted a survey to explore how small businesses and startups view the role design plays in their success. After collecting responses from 1,500 small businesses and startup companies, they found the following:

  • 49% said design is very important to business success. (Only 3% said it’s not important.)
  • 67% expected that graphic design would become increasingly important to the success of their business over the next five years.
  • 57% said they would pay $500 for a new logo while 18% said they would pay up to $1,000 and 14% would spend more than $1,000 on a new logo.

With figures like these, it’s clear that most business owners recognize the growing importance design plays within their company. You’re probably still asking, but why? We believe design is important for these four reasons:

  1. It’s everywhere.
  2. It plays into the first impression others receive of your company.
  3. It can inspire relationships.
  4. It serves functional purposes.

Design is Everywhere

Everything around you has been designed by someone at some point. Design is incorporated into the interface of your smartphone, the apps you use, the menus you read at restaurants, the car you drive, the layout of your house, your clothes, the label on your water bottle, EVERYTHING! And whether the designs you see are super simple or extremely complex, thought was put into them nonetheless.

Design can seep into every aspect of your business and needs to portray a consistent look and feel. Adam called Apple “the poster child for this movement” since Apple is “a company that has prized good design in every aspect of their business.” It’s no wonder then why participants in the 99designs survey ranked Apple with having the best logo design and best website design when giving an open ended response.

Since design is a force supporting all the information you share about your business, it’s important to take the time to identify the style and personality you want your business to portray through the designs. The possibilities are endless, so search for the unique image you want to associate with your brand and try to avoid mimicking the styles used by other brands.

Design for the First Date

Design for the first date

Just like you shouldn’t bore your date with poor social skills, don’t bore your customers with poor design. Make a good first impression.

You want to make a good impression on your potential customers and clients, right? Well, imagine introducing your brand to someone for the first time. Much like how your looks and the way you act on a first date play a big role in determining if you’ll be asked out for round two, the design of your business causes others to form judgments and opinions before they even get to know your business.

Even for those of us who are not designers, we are all still very visual people. As Kevin Rosenbaum with Digital Agency said, “People use heuristics to make snap judgements when they don’t have time for an exhaustive analysis.” In other words, design is something that could aid in triggering positive first impressions of your business before people take the time to evaluate what your company is truly all about. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes it’s inevitable. Use design to stick out and make people remember you. If your brand doesn’t visually attract people, they may never make an effort to get to know you and what you stand for.

Design to Inspire

Perhaps even more important than using design to get customers and clients to remember you is using design to inspire clients to form a relationship with you. You want people who are excited to work with you because they truly love the services you offer rather than only working with you for, say, proximity reasons. If the identity your brand emits makes customers want to be associated with you, then you’re on par with success.

Design for Functionality

If you take the time to notice the designs all around you, you’ll have a more critical perspective. You’ll probably start questioning if the design was flattering but also ask if it’s the most functional.

Design is meant to help achieve some sort of goal, and by serving a functional purpose, design can help you convey messages in appropriate ways. As Adam put it, “…design thinking is about putting people first, understanding their needs in light of your product or service, and making sure your business strategy is sustainable with this in mind.” Designs should be structured to help consumers fulfill a need and should also be adapted as needs change. Designs can also always be updated or revised, so don’t be afraid to try something outside of the box and see how it works.

Design with functionality

Notice how we designed the Roots N Blues N BBQ website with functionality in mind. The guitar picks are visually interesting and are also used as a countdown for the festival.

Our design specialties here at MayeCreate center around websites, the hub of your online identity. Websites are a very important place for design to be fully functional. Sheila Patterson, owner of Apex Creative, said it perfectly: “You can have the best descriptions of your services and features you want. You can have the best products, or even the best prices. But none of that matters if your design sucks.”

Why is that? Because people aren’t going to take the time to learn about your products and services if you don’t initially engage them with visuals. We’re all kind of kids at heart; even as adults most of us would still rather look through a picture book with minimal words than read through paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Whether this is simply because learning is more fun and entertaining that way, or if graphics are quicker to interpret that a whole bunch of words, good website design includes the perfect balance of text and visuals based on the target audience’s preferences. Functional website design also makes it easy for visitors to navigate around a site and quickly find the information they need.

Putting It All Together

All in all, it turns out that design does matter to small businesses. When you care about what your customers think of your business, you’ll use design to attract their attention. When growing your business is important, you can use design to position your brand in a more appealing way that makes customers notice you. When you want people to hear what you have to say, design can give them a reason to perk up and shift their focus and curiosity on you.

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