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How to Choose the Best Graphic Artist & Website Designer for you

All great business start with a simple idea…but once you have this idea, what’s next?  You get your business plan in place, you start thinking about marketing, but before you can spread the word about your business…you need to establish your identity and brand.   Or maybe you have an existing company, but you realize that your branding and website is way outdated… embarrassingly outdated maybe, and doesn’t at all reflect your company and isn’t helping you acquire new business.

So now it’s time to find a designer who can help you get your branding in order and/or create a website that will make your business look as good visually as it operates fundamentally.

Here are 10 tips to help you find the right graphic artist or website designer for you:

1.  Establish a basic idea of what you want your visual presence to say about your company and/or what specific things you will need your website to do.

It doesn’t need to be set in stone, but you should have some kind of basic ideas.  Look at other websites, either in your field or outside and figure out what you like about them and what you don’t.  Find logos and visual images and even basic colors that resonate with your business.  This is sooooo important.  You will never be able to find the right person to create a visual representation for your brand  if you yourself don’t even know that is.

2.  Establish a realistic budget and/or phases.  

Key word, realistic.  If your budget is small, you’re gonna have to keep it simple, but maybe phase 2 involves a little bit more.  Establish the things that you must have initially as well as a wish list and future plan so you can communicate that with your designer when the time comes.  They should be able to tell you what they can do for what kind of ballpark range but you want to be sure they are aware of the end goal so that they can create something that can be added upon.

3.  Ask for referrals.

Ask people you know, or even people who have websites & branding that you like who did theirs.  Word of mouth is sooooo powerful in this industry.   creativeNicole gets 90% of our business from word of mouth.  If people like something, they will share it.

4.  If you can’t find referrals, try searching your network on LinkedIn, Yelp or Google.

Before contacting them, check out their website and get a feel for who they are and what they can provide you. If you are a small business who focuses on a small niche market and needs a basic presence, most likely you will not be using the same company as a large business with a huge budget that wants all the bells and whistles.

5.  See examples of work & make sure it’s in line with what you’re looking for.  

See MULTIPLE examples of work that you like and be sure that they have at least a few examples that have a similar style as what you’re going for.   They may be great at creating crafty pink and yellow blog sites, but is that type of design going to work for your contracting business?   Also, make sure they have actually done all of the work on projects similar to yours.  Are they showing you a bunch of great sites that they did the coding for but had someone else design?  Or are they showing you a bunch of beautiful sites that someone else coded?  You don’t want to get stuck with someone who says they can do something that they can’t.

6.  Get references.  

Maybe you’ve seen a few websites from a designer that are just what you’re looking for…great!  But how was the process of working with them?  Did the end result take 10 revisions?  Did they take two weeks to respond to emails?  If they don’t have testimonials or reviews on Yelp or Google you can check out, it may be wise to ask them to provide you with a few previous clients they can call.  Any reputable designer will have at least a handful of clients that will rave about them.

7.  Don’t automatically go for the cheapest price!  

Everyone wants to get the most for their money, but if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If you set out to get 3 quotes about a new website and one comes in way under the other two…there may be a good reason for that and it could cost you more in the end if you end up having to pay two people.  There’s a slim chance that freelancer/company doesn’t know their own value, but more often than not, that’s not the case.  That old saying “you get what you pay for” can be so true.

8.  Know what you are getting for the price.

It’s so important to know what’s included in the quote…how many rounds of revisions, what kind of access you have, what file types you get, etc.  Think about the end result and everything involved and know what things you will be responsible for and what they will be responsible for.  Do you have stock photos that are included?  Are they adding content or is that up to you?  Can you make changes down the line and what does that cost?

9.  COMMUNICATE!

Be very clear with the designer you choose exactly what you are looking for, what kind of timeline you have, and what your expectations are throughout the process.  Also, choosing your words wisely and not using insulting language is going to be best for both of you. If the first round isn’t exactly what you are looking for, tell them what specific things aren’t working or would be more in line with your ideas. Saying “I don’t like it, what am I paying you for?” isn’t helpful, but saying “This looks ok, but I wanted more of this color and and that other color and I want a font like this site has” will help you get what you need in the end and make then want to work harder for you.  Be concise with your criticism…good designers can take it, but no one likes to be insulted or talked down to.

10.  Get it in writing.

If you don’t have your agreement in writing, you could get seriously taken advantage of.  Your agreement should clearly state prices, timelines, revisions and all of the work that is included, and what happens if the work goes beyond the scope.

These tips come from years of having clients come to us after a painful experience with a previous designer or website developer.   It breaks our hearts to see so many people struggling and get taken advantage of, but ultimately, we are happy that we can provide them with what they were looking for all along.   At creativeNicole, we don’t claim to be for everyone, and we don’t try to hoard our clients or our client’s files because we know our value and aren’t afraid of losing them.  We know that if you are good to people, good things will come your way.  Of course we think we are the bees knees, but even if you don’t choose us for your next project, hopefully by following the 10 tips above, you will be able to choose the right fit for you.

QR Codes…what are these things anyways? And how can they help me?

Unless you’ve been hiding out for the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a QR code or ten…even if you’re not quite sure that’s what it was. While us technology nerds are using them on every piece of marketing we can, there are still a handful of people out there that have no  idea what these little black and white square designs are, or what to do with them.  But luckily…more and more people are starting to catch on.  If you’re not one of them, here’s the downlow on how you can start using them in your business or personal life.

Basically, a QR code is similar to a UPC code (except it’s 2 dimensional, instead of one dimensional) that can be scanned by your phone, and tells your phone to do something… usually this is to go to a web address (although they can also be used to have your phone call or text).  To scan them, you simply open the app, hit the scan button, then voila…your phone does the rest.  If you don’t already have one, check out RedLaser and ScanLife (for iPhone) or QR Droid and Barcode Scanner (for Android).  Most of these apps can also be used to scan UPC codes of any product and find out where you can buy it online or locally.  Not too shabby huh?

So why use these in your own marketing?  Well…now that people use their mobile phones for almost everything, it’s an easy way to connect people who are in your store, or who you meet in person, to your website or any other site you’d like to direct them to (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or Google Places even), with just a few clicks on their phone, rather than having them type in a web address manually.  This is a time of instant gratification, and a QR code connects your customers to you faster than traditional means of print media.  And on top of that…they are super easy to generate.  Just use a site like goqr.me, and just type in the URL, and the online generator will generate one for you.

How do we suggest using them in your marketing?  Well nowadays, any print marketing piece you do should have a QR code, it’s kind of acts as a big call to action button on your website, sending users exactly where you want them to go.  Do you want them to see a special deal on your site?  Have them sign up for your newsletter?  Contact you immediately? Or maybe it’s on a piece that you give to current customers to leave a review for you.  There are a lot of possibilities, check out the one we did for Sagewood Group below:

So now you you can be one of the cool techy folks who’s on board with the latest trends.  And if you have your own business and would like creativeNicole to come up with a really powerful print marketing piece, feel free to contact us.