Good Design is Good Business

By Samantha Sheehan, Director Valley.Works

It can be difficult to both understand and justify reasons for hiring design professionals. What is the difference between a web developer and a web designer? What is their real value? Why can’t my friend that “does art” take care of my branding? 

Good design is about the marriage of Form and Function. Designers are educated professionals with serious specialities. For example, a Landscaper is a knowledgable laborer who can properly install and maintain a variety of plant species and landscaping materials. A Landscape Architect is someone who will be able to partner your personal aesthetics and the limitations of your particular property, with an extensive knowledge of horticulture, permaculture, aesthetics, and construction to create a beautiful and functional garden. Whether you will hire a Landscaper, a Landscape Architect, or manage the work on your own will depend on the needs, available capital, and goals of your project. What will always be true is that there is value in good design. Here is why:

“Everything is designed, few things are designed well. ” Brian Reed

Neglecting the design process entirely is the same as doing it poorly. If you need steps to your new home and as a solution you stack milk crates to the door - you have just designed steps. Your new steps meet some of your needs, they are affordable and they reach from the ground to the threshold. However, they fail to meet some other needs entirely; they are not safe, nor permanent, nor pretty, nor welcoming. A logo is simply a graphic representation of a brand. The best logos are beautiful, legible, easily reproduced, and elegantly communicate whatever is most important about your business. If you are in business and you think that you currently do not have a logo, you are wrong. What you actually have is a very bad logo.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs

Functionality is a key component of design. My favorite example of a design disaster was Steve Harvey’s now famous crowning of the wrong Miss Universe. Every visual designer knows that english speakers read information from left to right, and from top to bottom. This a rule that guides the composition of everything from magazine covers to gas pumps. Poor Miss Columbia suffered at the hand of a poorly designed note card, which put her name immediately to the left the Miss Universe Title, and the name of the real Miss Universe on the bottom right of the card - just under Steve Harveys thumb. Design is not how something looks, but how it works. Important details should always be designed with care, no matter how large or small the project. 

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design” - Dr Ralph Speth, CEO Jaguar

We all know that it is better to do something right the first time. As a business owner your time and skills are valuable. When it comes to weighing the choice of hiring a designer or doing the work yourself you should consider both the cost of a failed first attempt as well if whether or not your time and skills would be of better use spent elsewhere.

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is the old maxim “less is more work”. The more simple a users experience feels, the more time and consideration that need to go in to planning it. With the advent of mobile technology people are becoming else and less patient when looking for information. According to HubSpot 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a web page. Working with a talented designer will help ensure that those 15 seconds are well spent. The same theory applies to designing things like signs, logos, business cards, and print advertisements. For something to be easy to recognize and understand requires a lot of thoughtful planing. 

Don’t be fearful of the word Designer. Designers are thoughtful and knowledgable professionals who will bring their expertise and talents to whatever you are working on. The most successful tools are the ones which seamlessly combine aesthetics and function. Consider this the next time that you undertake a new project or endeavor that is essential to the growth of your business.