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The Importance of Design for Small Business Owners

by Jan Pickering

Competitive marketplaces are saturated, and budgets are strained to the limit as we reach the second decade of the twenty-first century. A brand must do more than deliver a good product to achieve or sustain market share: it must cultivate mindshare. Small companies must use every tool at their disposal to stand out in a world where competition for attention has never been fiercer. However, one of the most effective tools for gaining an edge is design, which is typically underutilised by small and midsize businesses.

As a result, design is frequently regarded as a flimsy add-on rather than a critical business resource. Effective design, like beauty, is more than skin deep and reflects a consistent manner of attracting and engaging customers.

Investing in good design provides a huge opportunity for small to medium firms to differentiate themselves from competitors of any size.

Taking a Big Picture Approach to Design

Effective design can turn customers’ heads and create clicks for organisations suffering with engagement and lead generation. However, this does not imply that delegating to a single team is a miraculous cure-all or a one-time project. Design is a C-suite problem, and executives should evaluate design performance with the same rigour as they do revenue and expenditures.

As part of our day-to-day operations, our firm compulsively collects data and publishes metrics on a regular basis. We do it in order to gain useful information and take action. Design, like any other business tool, may be measured for return on investment and key performance indicators. We can use digital analytics to determine which kind of material and visuals generate the most media impressions, likes, and saves. We may then determine which design choices are more appealing to a certain audience.

Make Design a Part of Your Company’s DNA

Design may make the difference between success and failure in a variety of businesses and markets. These six techniques are a good place to start for business executives who wish to launch a practical design programme:

1. Create a hierarchy of content.

By providing extremely obvious information priority, effective visual design shepherds the visitor through multiple messaging levels, ensuring that the essential message hits the eyes first. The ultimate objective is to maximise the effect of every square inch of visual space by establishing a clear hierarchy.

The website of IFundWomen, a startup funding platform aimed at female entrepreneurs, is an outstanding example of a clear content hierarchy. Its dynamic visuals and vibrant palette convey the brand strategy, positioning, and message so that each piece reflects the platform’s empowering and collaborative approach with confidence, sophistication, and approachability. The financing platform is designed for women who have great ideas, and the website’s homepage features its own “big ideas.”

2. Emphasize scale and contrast

A brand may get so caught up in establishing a cohesive image that it loses sight of the effect that differences can have. The use of purposeful visual contrast between light and dark components draws the eye in and offers a natural focus point. One of the most important aspects of building a content hierarchy is contrast, which may make a design feel more striking than a whitewashed approach.

Similarly, scale works by providing size contrasts that a reader may immediately grasp. The eye will not know where to look first if blocks of information are all provided at the same size or if all of the content is set in all-caps and bold type.

The objective is to create a hierarchy that allows the important material to shine and the reader to understand the essential points. When a large number of messages are broadcast at the same time, the outcome is nothing but noise.

3. Come up with a colour narrative.

Color is naturally expressive: A well-crafted colour narrative is visceral and may elicit an emotional response from the viewer that is difficult to achieve only via the arrangement of formal components on a page. Color palettes may be conservative or bold, with varied goals and brand stories to achieve.

Colors have a significant influence on first impressions as well. According to a Shopify research, colour accounts for up to 90% of a customer’s initial impression of a product. This research demonstrates that there is a significant potential to utilise colour to your advantage and generate a favourable impression in people’s minds when they think of your company.

4. Make copywriting a top priority.

Because good Graphic Design is nothing without good copywriting, clear and engaging copywriting is required. The length and effect of well-defined headlines, subheadings, supporting content, and pull quotes should all be considered. It’s critical to keep the message and style consistent, whether you’re creating a small landing page or a long-form whitepaper.

Design and copywriting take similar approaches in many respects. Both entail going into viewers’ brains and delivering a meaningful, engaging experience while being clear and simple. The characteristic of excellent copywriting is that it can be understood by anybody; the same can be said of good design.

5. Use pictures in a way that is consistent with your brand.

Establishing image treatment rules will help your business stand out from the pack. Make guidelines for things like duotones vs. colour filters, hand-drawn drawings vs. flat visuals, and typography vs. photography. This will offer your brand a consistent and memorable design language and user experience across all platforms, while yet allowing for contrast.

6. Begin with the broad and work your way down to the specific.

One of my favourite aphorisms from art school is to “work from the broad to the specific,” and that approach may have a significant influence on a design’s success. Iterate and improve your first concepts to establish a cohesive, compelling design language.

ActiveCampaign, a SaaS platform that helps SMBs automate, offers a well-designed and simple UI that alleviates some of the hassles that come with such a complicated discipline as automation. The designers clearly prioritised clarity and practicality before integrating a sense of playfulness and ease into the brand’s language and images.

The power of design, like any successful business plan, only rewards those who are prepared to commit and put in the effort. SMBs may easily stand out in a crowded industry by using a visual language that follows basic concepts.

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