Making the Designer Work For YouWritten by Sean Rice
|Wanted: Web Designer. Must know PhotoShop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, .ASP, PHP, JSP. Needed to build brochure-style web site for small business. |
I made this classified help wanted ad up out of my head, but every freelance designer recognizes it. Many experienced clients do, too: They used to write classified ads just like that before they learned what a designer was and how to get most out of ones they hire.
This article is a guideline for clients who plan to hire a web designer for their business. It is also written for designers as a guideline of what is expected of them in a world that expects mere designer to wear many new hats.
First, what is a designer?
Design is a field based on ideas and concepts. Designers do not merely come up with ideas and execute them (more on what a production artist is, later). A good designer works with client to define problems that need to be solved, finds new opportunities that a client may not have considered, and manages business resources needed to make solution a reality. A good designer also breathes life and vividness into what could be merely a good idea.
The client that expects a designer merely to layout a good-looking page with cool graphics may get that. However, client will get only a cool web site and will miss out on all of business value a designer has to offer.
So, how do work with a Designer to get most bang for, what some consider, a lot of bucks?
You get what you ask for.
If you want a generic, thoughtless web site, then write a generic, thoughtless classified ad.
Consider advertisement at beginning of this article. The ad asks for nothing, really. I havent personally met a designer that didnt fit every one of graphic software requirements, and havent met many that were good at all of programming languages. So essentially, client has made a call for any and all web designers that know how to make images and web sites.
Step 1. Articulate a very clear and actionable design brief.
Period. End of story. If you get this one step wrong, you will be asking for (and getting) uninspired, derivative work which will impact your business negatively for years to come. When you hire an experienced designer (and you will, because you have read this article) they will be able to help you distill problem down to its essentials and even explore issues you may not have thought of.
The design brief contains following information:
Who are you?
- What your business does
- How long has your business been around and how large is it (employees and staff)
- What is your niche market?
- How does your company fit within industry sector?
- What objectives does your business hope to achieve? Be specific if you can, but if not, let your designer help you set realistic objectives. Let him/her know that your objectives are vague and that they need to be defined. Are you trying to generate sales? Gather information? Generate name and brand recognition?
- Who is designer trying to communicate to? What gender, age, demographic, income
any information you give helps designer visualize audience.
Inexperienced clients hate this part. Two issues come up: The client doesnt know how much a web site is supposed to cost, or client is afraid that unscrupulous designer will run up cost. The first issue I will write about, later. For second, I will say that client should be aware of who they are hiring. References help weed out unsavory to a certain extent. Simply understanding what you are paying for also helps.
In any case, cost of a designer that creates a Golden Gate bridge made out of real gold when you only have a budget for steel
? Alternately, designer who figures for a $3500 e-Commerce site when you have $1,000,000 set aside to become next Victorias Secret isnt saving money.
- What is your budget range? High, low, target.
- Time Frame. Whats deadline, what milestones are you planning for that designer needs to know about?
- Other info that will help. (Please! If you hate color Yellow, now would be a good time to mention it.)
Here, again, your designer may be able to help you design path that will get you from Point A of your objective, to Point B. Do not be afraid to rely on a designers ability to scrap every vision you had of your future web site (including daydream about animated Flash Introductions).
Step 2. Develop a well articulated strategy for achieving your objectives. Also, remember to go back after youve developed your strategy and ask, "Does it actually achieve objectives?" Sometimes, all brainstorming and writing will cause us to forget what strategy was all about in first place.
Getting Support from within your organization
Designers and Client contacts always miss this step and always act surprised when all their work is met with stony silence by rest of organization. If you are owner, dont get arrogant about your employees approval. Ive seen great designs become sources of low moral for simple reason that owner was trying to shove it down companys throat. If your employees / colleagues / bosses do not like a design, it will never succeed as well as it could.
Get their input and advice.
Letting your designer move in with you.
If designer asks for a tour of your business and time to wander around and get a feel for your business culture, you already know that youve struck gold. Let them. Give them a hard hat if you need to and let
Converting Visitors into SubscribersWritten by Javier Salces
Copyright 2005 Javier Salces
Visitor conversion is a challenge faced by every marketer.
If you're spending money to generate traffic, you want to do everything possible to ensure that traffic isn't wasted. This means getting more bang for your buck by convincing more visitors to subscribe to your list.
In other words, conversion improves your return on investment and limits temptation of spending more money on more traffic.
If your opt-in list isn't converting as well you expected, there are several target elements you can experiment with to improve your opt-in rates:
1. Web Copy
Is copy on your site effective? Poorly written copy is one of first culprits to investigate. Start by evaluating your headline. Is it enticing? Does it pull reader in? A boring headline can cause people to click away without even reading rest of page. Check your main copy as well.
Do you explain benefits of list membership? People always want to know what's in it for them. Make sure you offer them plenty of reasons to sign up.
Incentives provide additional benefits and additional reasons to join your list. If you aren't doing so already, offer a unique course, e-book or piece of software for free as a bonus to subscribers. Many times this will convert hesitant visitors into subscribers.
People love freebies and they also can't resist satisfying their curiosity.
3. Make it easy to join
Have you placed your subscription box in a prominent place on page? Some list owners always place their subscription box at top of page, while others place it at very bottom. Either position can work well, but if you have a lot of copy to wade through, you might consider placing box within body copy at logical points. Remind your readers why they are there and what action you want them to take.