Being a solopreneur isn’t an easy task — everything falls on your shoulders, and it’s difficult to know which elements deserve your attention and might grow your business. In some industries, appearance matters more than others.
Design is one of those areas that’s easy to overlook as a solo business owner. Your budget in the early days may not allow for a full-time graphic designer, and you probably don’t know a lot about design yourself.
However, design permeates nearly every aspect of what we do on a daily basis and thus it is a vital element of running a successful business.
Someone designed the car you drive, the smartphone you use and the layout and interface of your phone and computer. The billboards you see as you drive to your destination are the result of a graphic designer.
Design is everywhere and you likely already have an instinct for what does and doesn’t work.
Here are seven solid reasons every solopreneur should care about design and how to apply it to business.
1. First Impression Matter (A LOT!!!)
It takes a mere 50 milliseconds for users to form an impression of your website or storefront based on how it looks. That’s a fraction of a second, so you can imagine the information on the page or the outside of your store barely has time to register before site visitors form an opinion of your brand.
Online, the overall look and layout of your page — the design — is what makes that critical first impression. In real life, the colors and professionalism of the signs make an impact.
2. Poor Design Means a Poor Customer Experience
About 89 percent of marketers feel customer experience (CX) is the primary thing differentiating them from the competition. Customer experience is about more than just the way your website looks, though. CX is more of a culture within the company where every person the customer comes in contact with ensures their experience is the best possible.
CX involves customer service, website functionality and even the way you greet a customer when they enter your store or interact with a customer service rep. With OOH advertising, the number of people you reach grows because you’re placing your message in front of a broad base.
Businesses large and small succeed when product design, branding, and customer experience are creatively cohesive.
3. Better Design Means Better Advertising ROI
Although graphic design is used often in online advertising, it is equally essential for out of home (OOH) advertising, such as billboards, vehicle wraps and storefront banners. OOH advertising is your opportunity to reach a local audience in a powerful and ongoing way without overspending on your marketing budget.
OOH advertising has become more used in recent years, growing more popular than even television and radio advertising. Let’s think about a vehicle wrap for a minute. The design must be aesthetically pleasing and pop against the color of the vehicle.
The letters need to be large enough for people to see at a glance while driving in traffic or stopped at a light. Basic elements of good design translate into grabbing user attention.
4. Building a Brand Isn’t Just for Big Companies
Design enhances the recognizability of your brand. A good designer ensures all components work together to fit into your brand colors and the image you’d like to project.
If you run a bank and you want to project a feeling of trust and sincerity, then a bright pink logo isn’t your best choice. On the other hand, if you run a tanning salon, then bright pink might be the way to go.
Design factors in the colors competitors use, your brand colors and the best way to utilize those colors in drawing the attention of consumers.
5. Appearing More Professional Increases Trustworthiness
Beautiful graphics make your brand appear more professional. Sure, you can get a website started with some graphics your 13-year-old nephew threw together, but if you want to take your business to the next level, you must invest in better quality graphic design. The cost of hiring a designer when you’re just starting may seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are ways to hire a professional designer without breaking the bank. For example, you can hire a designer on contract to do only the work needed at that time.
Another option is hiring a design student who is almost ready to graduate. While they won’t be as experienced as a designer with a few years under their belt, they still offer design skills you probably don’t have yourself.
6. Design Can Be Your Competitive Edge
Beautiful design allows you to stand out from the competition. Imagine that Mary is in the market for exactly what you sell. She visits several competitor sites and your site for information. Competitor A and B have sites that are difficult to navigate and ugly to look at, so she rules them out.
Next, she visitors Competitor C’s website, which looks pretty but isn’t functional.
Then, she lands on your page, which has a beautiful design and the CX makes it easy to navigate. She tries out the live chat to discover the customer service is stellar and the agent answers all her questions. Which company do you think she’s most likely to do business with? The one site that’s easy to navigate.
Wondering if your site visitors are having trouble navigating your site? Here’s a pro tip: Use heatmaps to see where your visitors click and how they interact with your site.
7. Engage Consumers & Increase Conversions
You can even use design to engage consumers through features such as parallax scrolling or clickable calls to action. Google measures bounce rates based on the actions a visitor takes after landing on your page.
If your design encourages the user to click on elements on your page, the number of people who leave your site immediately after landing there reduces dramatically.
Coming up with exciting new designs is a lot of fun for designs and can be equally as exciting for solopreneurs. If you aren’t sure how to utilize design to attract new business, consult with a design professional. Design appears in ads for social media, print ads, for your website and even for elements such as a newsletter you email to subscribers.
Design shouldn’t feel like a huge chore, but something you embrace because you know it improves your brand image overall and entices people to invest in your brand.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the blog series Start Your Business brought to you by Design Roast, a blog for designers by designers, and the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.