How to get through in the face of cheap tools and global competition
Graphics design on the web is getting to be institutionalized. Visual trends are being adhered to like guidelines, and organisations are losing their identity online. A web designer, for example, Squarespace and Wix might offer apparently high quality website templates at a small amount of the cost of a bespoke site design.
Platform, for example, Dribbble and Behance make it much easier to discover designers. Supply is high and so is the competition. This can constrain prices down. So, for what reason would it be advisable for anyone to hire us? What makes us one of a kind?
With firm rivalry, how can we keep up an premium price point for the work we do and keep on producing a fruitful career in website design? The appropriate response lies with our clients and our way to deal with design. We have to remove ourselves from this race by contending on a totally different level.
Our goal must be to create distinctive and unique design work for our clients that elevates us above the competition and in turn helps build us a diverse, unique and strong body of work.
Find an identity
Over about two decades in design, I’ve framed an approach that helps me make unique work; work that you can’t get from a template. Everything begins with the client: it’s their unique identity and personality that is the foundation for for distinctive, engaging design.
You’re most likely familiar with clients offering thoughts to you toward the start of the design process. These thoughts are frequently based on another company’s identity; mostly they’re direct contender. Your client has aspirations, however we must assist them with recognizing that their identity is one of a kind, and that the way to a fruitful design originates from their own organization.
We convince them to build upon their own values and mission and not replicate something they’ve found elsewhere. If you follow, you’re always one step behind.
Once they’re on board, we extract their identity. We want to get to the bottom of who they really are. What drives them? Why do they exist? What is their mission? What are their values? We can do this through a series of discussions with the client. It’s important to be empathetic.
This discovery process is often very rewarding. It’s at this point your client realises who they are and that they have an identity they can own. We now have a strong basis from which to build a distinctive and unique design.
Tell a story
To use the information we’ve extracted, we need to make sense of it. We look for common threads and use these to start building our client’s story. We’re condensing the bigger picture of who they are into a simple, digestible form. I often distil the patterns I find into phrases or straplines that convey the company’s values and mission in a few simple words.
This forms the basis of your client’s story – it’s like a movie strapline. This narrative will give you direction and meaning when creating the visual design and branding elements. It will give you solid reasoning and direction for your design decisions.
As well as creating the basis for your story, the client’s identity, values and mission will guide you in to how to apply style to your site design. Typography, colour, layout and texture all convey meaning to the user. Choose styles that help convey and communicate the core message of the website. Using this logic can make the creative process run more smoothly. You’re no longer trying to grab ideas out of thin air; you have solid reasoning in place to help you make your design decisions.
By following this process you’ll not only create distinctive work for your clients; you’ll also build yourself a strong body of design work. You’ll demonstrate that good design can’t be bought off the shelf and that if a potential client wants a distinctive and unique web presence, it’s something worth investing in.