Thinking about bootstrapping your business? Keep good design in the budget and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at just how big the return on investment is.
Let’s face it, all of us in the Flying Solo community are bootstrapping some aspect of our business. Whether it’s handing out flyers or writing lines of code, there are things we’re willing to do ourselves.
But, while there are certainly a lot of things worth sacrificing, there’s one aspect worth getting done right the first time – that’s design.
1. Good design is good user experience
A lot of us might think that good design is just about aesthetics. Although typography, colours and branding play an important role, ‘user experience’ should be the ultimate goal. This is especially important for digital businesses that survive on e-commerce. Making sure the user experience is just right could be the difference between a visitor and a customer.
Here are some actionable things you can do right now.
- Make sure your website is responsive and works on mobile devices.
- Optimise for conversions by removing unnecessary form fields.
- Reduce copy so that the information is easily scannable.
- Check that navigation links are well structured.
- Provide meaningful error messages so users can troubleshoot problems.
2. Brand recognition only exists if you’re recognised
The great thing about being a soloist is that you’re not really competing against million dollar brands. Most of the time, you’re competing against other small businesses who are in the exact same position as you. And for those of you who are doing it on your own (copywriters, designers, developers, or consultants) quality branding can establish a sense of professionalism allowing you to compete against bigger fish in the sea.
Take my business. We’re a small cleaning company in a service industry. From the time a customer first visits our website right up until they’ve handed back the keys to their real estate agent, our branding is slowly helping build trust, one interaction at a time.
Here are some ways that we use branding to help connect with our customers:
- Our branding is playful and memorable and our website introduces this to our clients at their very first visit.
- Our confirmation emails include our unique company mascots.
- Our cleaners wear uniforms that re-establish past interactions.
- The print material (brochures, business cards, etc.) we leave behind after a clean create a lasting impression.
3. Design makes it easier to get found (SEO)
This might sound super cliché but everything in the digital world is connected. A small design decision can have a much larger impact on your digital footprint than you might expect.
Let me give you a real-world example.
When we were first choosing our design aesthetic, (flat design), it had never occurred to us that we were using vector images. Because of this, our developers were able to create the website only using SVGs, a smaller file format that allowed images to be resized without any loss of quality. If you’ve been following SEO lately, you know that page speed is now a significant ranking factor with Google. Smaller file sizes mean faster websites and voila, you’re on the first page.
Now I know this might seem like a stretch, but coupled with good user experience reducing bounce rates, and great visual aesthetic leading to more backlinks, it’s not hard to see the connection between good design and better SEO.
4. Customers just expect it
In the age of Google, Uber, and iPhones, good design has become normalised in every product and service in the market. Consumers have come to expect a level of functionality and design that has never existed before. This might seem unfair to small business, but it’s the reality of the market. Making investments into design early on will pay off in the long run as consumers continue to raise their standards.
Have you invested significantly in good design? How has it benefited your business?