I hear it all the time. Someone brings up design for their business, and a friend chimes in “I got a [insert cheap price here] [insert project here] on 99designs (or other bid for design site)! You should try there!” Hearing it makes me cringe. While there may be some wonderful diamond in the rough designers on those sites, more often than not, you get what you pay for. What’s the difference? Let’s talk about what you get from working with a professional.
Logos are expensive. They are an investment. Your designer is designing something totally unique to your company. They are adjusting every detail – making sure every line is smooth, and every letter is kerned perfectly so that you can use it with confidence. Logos involve research, a thorough understanding of the company and hours of design. In addition, many professionals include a brand guide on how to use the logo, and a variety of versions for different media. If you are working with a company that designs $10 logos, do you really thing every design is fresh? That they put in the time to understand you and your company?
I have experience working with both designers and typesetters to produce multipage books with various headings/photos/etc, and I can tell you, there is a huge difference between paying $10-12 a page to have something typeset, and paying a designer to design your book. While typesetting may work well enough for a text heavy document, a more complex workbook or annual report really needs a designer. A designer will react to how things fall on the page, and alter the designs accordingly. Visually, the design will be easier on the eyes and will flow better. The time saved by someone paying attention to every page will far surpass the cost. Trust me.
Websites are another project that can be greatly impacted by what you spend. A few years ago, I was doing research on wedding photographers, and I can tell you, the more I went to, the more I saw the patterns of people choosing the SAME template. While templates are great, and I sometimes recommend starting with them, they often benefit from being heavily modified and customized. A poorly customized template can make it difficult and costly to make changes in the future. Not doing the research and choosing the same template as the competition, on the other hand, keeps you from standing out. A professional will not only give you something easy to work with, but they will likely make sure your template is different enough to set you apart from the competition.
Overall, you pay for experience, and experience means you gain from the knowledge the designer has accumulated over their tenure. They know a logo needs to be workable in black and white, because they’ve sent projects off in one color. They know you need extra margins for a saddle stitch book, because they have a sample at their house. They know what plugins you need to keep people from hacking your site.
In the end, you’ll spend far less time “fixing” later by using a professional.
Picking colors for your logo can be a daunting task. Many colors have very specific connotations – and these connotations change depending on the country and background of your target market. For the sake of this post, I will focus the most common 7 colors and their universal meanings in the US market. Keep in mind, however, colors have many meanings, and the symbol, color pairings, shades, etc can change the way someone interacts with the colors in your logo as well.
Red is closely associated with passion and strong feelings, both of love and anger. It can also be linked to courage. While a brighter red might be agitating, a deeper red can be pleasing to the eye.
Common red symbols: hearts, fire, red cross for safety
Orange is closely associated with happiness and optimism. It is an energizing color. Pair a bright orange with a royal blue to retain its vibrance, or a deeper burnt orange with a brown to elicit a more earthy feel.
Common orange symbols: pumpkin, oranges, tigers
Yellow is another color associated with cheerfulness and friendship. Yellows in the golden variety are commonly paired with richer blues or purples when used for popular sports teams. Pairing yellow with green can bring strong associations with nature.
Common yellow symbols: sun, marigolds
Green has a strong link to nature, and therefore is considered very soothing. It also brings up strong connotations to wealth, money and luck. Choose a lighter green to draw a relationship with spring. Lime green has become quite trendy in recent years and can be well paired with a teal or blue shade.
Common green symbols: leaves, money, clover
Blue has a strong relationship with trust and loyalty. Blue is also a soothing color. Though blue is commonly associated with men, it is actually a favorite among women as well. This makes it a popular choice for branding and logo design.
Common blue symbols: ocean, sky
Purple is most strongly related to royalty. It is also linked to creativity. Though favored by women, purple is one of the more controversial colors, and is often less appealing to men. It is used sparingly, but might be a great choice to help your business stand out from the competition.
Common purple symbols: violets, purple heart
Black is often associated with strength and elegance. It can also be an intimidating color. Black can be paired with anything, and therefore is a very diverse color. You will often seen black packaging for high end retail companies like Saks and Apple.
Common black symbols: black tie, black cat
For samples of our logo designs, please visit www.skleber.com. We’d love to help you bring personality to your brand.
In the last year, as many of you out there may have noticed, we’ve expanded our offerings to include web design and development. But what many of you may not know, is the in order to do so, I’ve enlisted the help of someone who supports me in a myriad of ways – my husband, Ryan Jensen, who happens to be a web developer.
When people find out a designer married a web developer, they always comment on how convenient it must be. In many ways, it is great – he partners with me to make sure your websites not only look the way they are designed, but also to make sure they work the way they were intended. I do the initial design, he does the coding and then I often jump back in to work with the content.
We’ve met some interesting clients along the way, and I’d love to share those collaborations with you here.
Bree Ryback of Capitol Romance came to us for a revamp of her off-beat wedding blog. For her site, we started with a template, and made a variety of modifications, including the addition of a slider and a vendor guide. Bree’s site is fully responsive. Visit Capitol Romance here.
Lisa Colozza Cocca
Lisa Colozza Cocca came to us for a website prior to the launch of her first Young Adult Novel, Providence. Lisa’s site was designed and built from scratch. As with many of my clients, due to distance, all discussion was done virtually. At the end of the project, Lisa afforded me a wonderful testimonial – “The most common [comment] from people I know well is “It’s so you.” That is quite a compliment to you, since we have never even met.” Visit Lisa Colozza Cocca here.
Gordon & Alpert
Gordon & Alpert is a start-up risk management strategic research firm. After a rocky start with their first web designer/developer, they came to Stacy Kleber Design, LLC to start over. We’ve created not only their website, but their brochure and business cards as well. Aside from the logo, which they created, we were able to define the look and feel of their brand. Visit Gordon & Alpert here.
Many of you out there might wonder, “Why should I spend the time to redesign my site? This website my niece/nephew designed and coded for me in 1999 still works, and websites are expensive!”
Think of it this way. Would you go in to that job interview in a wrinkled suit, with no resumé?
Your website is, for many customers, the first impression they have of your business. Your website doesn’t necessarily need all the latest bells and whistles, but it does need to look current and professional. After all, this is what the customer is basing their decision to contact you on.
If your website is hard to navigate, the customer may give up before they find your contact information. If it is dated and sloppy, the customer may perceive the business as out of touch, and move on to a more polished competitor. Every customer that leaves the site without a purchase has a cost for you and your business – a cost in the long run that goes way beyond the cost of a refresh.
I’ll leave you with a few keys to a good website design:
Easy to use across platforms (from mobile to tablet to desktop).
Fast load time.
Memorable url that makes sense for your business.
Responsive design is a hot topic in the web world these days. As more and more users are accessing the internet on a variety of platforms, it is becoming essential that companies keep up with them. I was recently asked to do a presentation on responsive design, and I thought I would share that knowledge with you here.
So what is responsive design?
Responsive design is designing a website that adapts to the user’s environment using media queries. This includes everything from mobile phones to tablets to different sizes of desktop screens. Unlike regular websites, which show up the same on every platform, layouts and design elements change depending on the platform you are using to better serve the user’s experience. This may mean condensing the navigation and changing the size of the images, among other things.
Most of the time, when we design for a responsive site, we design with 3-4 sizes in mind. Full computer screen, tablet vertical, tablet horizontal, iPhone and Android are some of the common considerations. Many testing labs have been established for those who don’t have access to all of these devices when checking their site. There is also software that lets you simulate the experience.
Is responsive design just a new, cool look?
Not at all – responsive design is about functionality and ease of use. Good designers take into account the user experience depending on the platform. This would mean larger buttons for ease of use on a mobile device, as well as thinking about how to streamline the purchasing process on a phone or tablet. The less clicks, the better.
Why should you care?
Mobile and tablet use is exploding – growing exponentially all the time. We can’t design solely for desktop any longer and expect users to accept that. From a marketing perspective, I was told at An Event Apart DC that conversion rates on mobile are actually higher when sites are responsive. Google also takes into account whether or not your site is responsive for search ranking.
Is it just for designers?
No! Repsonsive design is slowly becoming mainstream. it has been adopting by the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the Boston Globe newspaper and even Starbucks. These companies care about the customer experience – and responsive design improves that experience.
Though it takes longer and is more expensive to build a responsive site, the investment is worth it. It is becoming a consumer expectation that will not be ignored.