Starting a new website is daunting, and it can be tempting to outsource the necessary design work to a professional designer. A core part of any website is the visual branding. A great marketing scheme and message needs great design work to hold it all together. Some of the design work to think about when you start your website and small business branding:
- Email headers
- Product display and packaging
- Blog images
- Social media graphics
There’s lots of different things to think about with a website for an online business; but before you hand over your creative power (and an often considerable wad of cash) to a professional designer, consider this:
You don’t have to be a designer to be a designer!
You might think you don’t have the skills or confidence to do the design work for your business, but it’s not as hard as you may think.
Why You Can (And Should) Do Your Own Design Work:
- It’s cheaper - some designers (especially experienced ones) charge up to £50 per hour! Do it yourself and you’ll free up a big chunk of your budget for other areas of your business.
- Cut out the middleman - collaborative design work can often lead to creative differences. Implementing your own ideas means you can have full control over the visual side of your business.
- Your work is your own - imagine crediting all aspects of your new business… to yourself! It’s hard work, but it pays off
- You’ll learn a new skill - you should never pass by the chance to pick up new skills. Whatever level you’re at with design, it’s never too late to start.
Tip 1 - Write a Creative Brief
If you want to be your own creative director, start the job as a paid designer would: by writing a creative brief. Even if it’s just jotting down a quick plan for what you need to produce, it’s important to think about.
Decide what areas you want to focus your creative energy on. Like with any content, design work takes time and patience.
Before you start, jot down some notes:
- Who is your target audience? As with your written content, decide who your visual content is aimed towards.
- What do you want to achieve? What exactly is the effect you want your design work to have on your audience?
- Do some research. What sort of colours and images will your chosen demographic respond to? Use colour psychology and study competitors to decide what shades match your brand identity.
- Communicate values through visuals. Think about how your message translates into visual branding. For example, if nature and the environment is a core value in your business, you’d likely use green, earthy colours; if you’re selling luxury jewellery, you’ll want to use a sophisticated typography that fits your brand.
- Get inspired. If you’re stuck for ideas, look at other websites for inspiration. What are your competitors doing, and how could you do it better? Think about your favourite sites and ask yourself what you like about them visually.
Tip 2 - Design Your Own Website with Create
A professional, responsive website is essential for any business, regardless of if you have products to sell. If you are a service-led business, a commerce business, or are just trying to get your name out there, Create is the simplest way to make a website:
- Choose from a wide range of bespoke templates for a professional and unique looking site
- Create easily fits in with your current online presence - enjoy seamless integration between your Create site and your social media or eBay shop.
- Have a dedicated customer account manager to help get the most out of your website and business
- Enjoy the thrill of making money from a website without hidden fees - whether your site is a shop for products, a service site or a brochure site, we won’t take a cut of your sales.
- Your Create website is standardised with SSL encryption to ensure your security and the security of your customers.
Tip 3 - Use Stock Images
Stock images have really upped their game in recent years. Say goodbye to cheesy nuclear family snaps and hello to edgy shots of edgy bearded men. These days, stock images
Stock images are a free and easy way to add a bit of sophistication to your website, email headers and any other medium that needs visuals. Why invest hundreds of pounds in camera equipment, models and everything else that comes with doing your own photography when you have access to thousands of professional photographs in a few clicks?
The internet is brimming with professional, high quality images that are easy to access and often free to use. Get inspired by the huge range of photographs on offer. Whether you need evocative landscape pics, or amusing graphics for a blog post, stock images have something for all your online business needs.
Check out our 20 favourite sites for stock images.
Tip 4 - Get Content from Your Audience
Great content is one of the most important things when starting your own online business. Planning and producing content across social media and your website can be one of the most daunting and time-consuming things. This is where User-Generated content (UGC) comes in. Getting your customers to contribute to your content is easy, quick and increases trust in your brand.
User generated content is all about your audience and what they want. It’s a way of generating interest in your brand while at the same time finding out what people want from you. It’s authentic and honest, and saves you the time and effort of writing tons of your own. Some ways to get content from your online audience:
- Social media - engage users using hashtags, pictures and calls to action that are relevant to your audience demographic. Engage users with questions to improve their relationship with the brand and gather valuable information about your customers at the same time.
- Contests and giveaways - generate conversation and increase trust with offers and sales. People will be more likely to notice and share your content
- Feedback forms and surveys - people love to share their opinions. Make your website a space for others to share their tips and build your business as a resource.
Check out our post on User Experience design for more tips on how to easily make your site a design success.
If you have any more website design tips for our readers, let us know in the comments section below.