So you have a small business. You sell blue vacuum cleaners, seabed lawn mowers or macramé poodles. You have a catering service specializing in carrot-based recipes or you are a massage therapist for divorcees. Your goods or services are specialized and your customers are loyal. You want a website to expand your client base and inform your existing customers about what’s new in your store.
So you go to see your neighbor Paul, the architect. You know he took a little evening web programming class, he’s good at drawing, and he owes you one. You invite him over for a beer to build a little website. You set off for glory in an evening of budding graphic designers.
After $ 200 of beers, $ 30 of “how-tos”, $ 15 of domain names and 40 hours of misery later, it is very clear that designing a website is a lot more complex than you imagined.
If you see yourself in these entrepreneurs (fictitious goods and services), this article is here to introduce you to the basics of good design and the importance of good resources.
Design? What's that?
First of all, the very definition of design is:
“A discipline aimed at harmonizing the human environment”.
If we take this definition apart, the words that emerge are “discipline” and “harmonization”. Discipline implies that it takes some training and / or expertise allowing the ideation of strategies in order to conceive a coherent, effective and relevant design.
It goes without saying that the basis of good design is the symbiosis of aesthetics with functionality, hence “graphic harmony”. In other words: As beautiful as a site is, it sucks if it doesn’t perform right or makes your eyes bleed. Function and beauty go hand in hand, and that is why being only “good at drawing” is never enough to be a good graphic designer. Beyond functionality, there are also readability, instinctiveness, ergonomics, appeal and UX. After all, everyone tries to feel something when they’re shopping for a water heater ;P
What's a good graphic designer?
A good graphic designer must understand his client, know the most effective means of communication, have knowledge of good graphics production software and understand the psychological aspects of color on the mood and purchasing behavior of people. He or she can tell you about trends and the dangers of following some trends. He must be empathetic, sensitive, logical, pragmatic and concise.
Phew! It takes a lot to create a simple Facebook banner!
But here’s where the key to success lies between a click that ends in a sale to your business versus a compulsive purchase on Amazon. A good graphic designer will know how to identify your needs and educate you on the aspects that work when you sell online. He will know how to give your company a virtual personality that will reach your customers on your behalf. He will be able to offer you solutions, rather than talking about constraints and he will work WITH you.
The basics of good graphics, while complex, are nevertheless highlighted in simplicity. Getting to say it all with as little elements as possible requires a series of acrobatics that only a seasoned and attentive design team can do. Graphic design must harmonize psychology, functionality, visual balance and a little “je ne sais quoi” in order to deliver the right message to the right people. Business owners need to find graphic designers who will match what they need and on top of that… they don’t even have to be good at drawing.