Tag Archives: Design Consultation

The 8 Agreements for Working With a Graphic Design Firm

computer with artistic sketches doodles. Design is... Steve Jobs quote.

There are a variety of reasons why a small business can benefit from working with a graphic design firm. Skilled graphic designers can help your company shine and organize information efficiently and in a graphically appealing manner. Once you have determined the project you are hiring the graphic design firm for the next step is to establish a clear understanding of who is responsible for each element of the project(s)

8 Agreements for Working with a Graphic Design Firm :

Explain Yourself – know what you are trying to communicate, to who (target audience), how (in print, billboards, or online, etc.). If you are not sure about the direction you need to take, you may want to schedule a marketing consultation or graphic design consultation before you begin working with a graphic design firm on a project that is defined ahead of time. Many graphic design firms offer consultations and provide marketing services to help you at this stage.

Be Prepared – Compile all text, copy, logos, photos, graphics, charts, etc. that will be included when the graphic design firm begins the project. If the graphic design firm is responsible for creating the graphics, locating photography, it is a good idea to share your ideas on style, color, size, etc.

Content – Will you be writing the copy for your project? Will a copy writer be providing copy? If you are working with a graphic design firm that also offers copywriting services request a bid for copywriting. Graphic design services do not automatically include copywriting, choosing headlines, compiling captions, etc.

Proofread – Graphic designers are paying attention to fonts, placement, scale, dimensions, color, graphics, photos and flow. Graphic designers are not editors or proofreaders. Sometimes while working through a project they may catch a typo or inconsistent use of text this is a bonus – this is an editing and proofreading task and is ultimately the client’s responsibility. Make sure you always get a proof and proofread it carefully before you go to print or post online… and then have someone else proofread it again.

Don’t Make Assumptions – You know your small business or organization best. It is important to share everything you want to include or depict. Don’t assume the graphic designer knows which are the featured services, products, mission and message you want to convey. A graphic design firm will learn about your company or organization but you know your organization best. Don’t assume it’s obvious what your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) is. Your current website and other marketing materials may not be explaining it as clearly you hope.

Share Ideas – Provide samples of designs you like. The examples can be from companies in your industry or just eye-catching designs with compelling messages that speak to you. This sharing helps designers follow your desired trajectory right away. A professional graphic designer will not copy these ideas, they will use them as inspiration, a jump off point, to build original work for your company.

When you are working with a design firm and leave it entirely up to them without any examples of what you envision you may have a rocky road ahead. If you are someone who is open to innovation and new ideas and you envision working with a graphic design firm as a refreshing exchange of creativity, give them full reign! It could be a great experience for both parties. If ideas go off track however, you will be paying for the revisions to get them back on track.

Don’t take things personally – a professional graphic designer will present new ideas you may not have considered yet. Be open to hear about the concept. Remember you hired the professionals for their expertise. If you really don’t like the new ideas a professional graphic design firm will not force them. Hopefully a compromise can be offered that merges both ideas and a winning design will result. Remember you are working with a design firm who wants to keep you as a customer, they want you to succeed and sometimes that means attempting to break you out of your comfort zone.

Always Do Your Best – Plan ahead for your graphic design and marketing projects. Whether you are looking for a brochure design, annual report design, logo design or website design, etc. allot enough time for all the project stages and mostly for design time. A full campaign will require more time than a corporate brochure. Creativity can not be turned on and off like a computer. A minimum of two weeks is requested. Although most design firms will do their best to fit in rush jobs, keep in mind you may not be getting their best work when creative time is cut short. Also remember to include the time it will take for the next steps of your projects, committee previews,board approval, printing, distribution, coding, etc.

Connection Group is a marketing and graphic design firm located in the Lansing, Michigan area. We work face to face on graphic design projects for small businesses and organizations in Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Mason, DeWitt and Charlotte, Michigan. When working with companies throughout Michigan we like the initial meeting to be at your location to get a feel for your business environment.  Connection Group also provides marketing and graphic design services to companies throughout the United States. Consultations via Skype, phone and email offer opportunities to collaborate, share proofs and meet comfortably without additional travel expenses.

If you feel confident working with a graphic design firm is your next step, connect with us today.

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Is Responsive Website Design an Affordable Solution for Small Business?

It’s almost July, should you take a vacation or update your small business website to a responsive website design?

Based on  Compuware, 2012 statistic stating “57 percent of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site”you may want to put that sabbatical on hold. If your small business marketing goal this year is to increase internet marketing exposure we recommend you start with your website. For most small businesses building a stand alone small business mobile website and a standard small business website designed for desktop monitors is not very feasible. Maintaining one website design can be challenging enough for a small business – having to maintain two separate websites that essentially contain the same information is absolutely daunting – and quickly proves to be unrealistic. Enter, responsive website design.

Responsive Website Design: Small Businesses Affordable Mobile Website Solution

graphic of a desktop monitor navigation menu

Example of navigation view on a standard desktop monitor.

responsive website deisgn drop down navigation menu

Example of responsive website design navigation drop down option

Responsive website design is the solution for small businesses who want their website visitors to be able to navigate their corporate website easily on any device they choose. From a smart phone, tablet, or desktop monitor, a responsive website design will conform to fit the screen size of the device the visitor is using. Responsive website design programming automatically detects the size of the device screen the visitor is calling up your website from. The responsive website design will either reduce, collapse or expand the content depending on the size of the screen. A clear example is shown in the graphics on the right. A small business website created for a national professional speaker w that is viewed on a desktop monitor has an expanded navigation bar. When you view it on the smart phone the navigation will condense to a drop down menu. The mobile user doesn’t have to scroll all the way to left or right or up or down, all they need do is click on the drop down box arrow (indicated with the red circle) and select the section they want more details on.

Not only does the responsive website design we offer  reduce our customers need to have a separate mobile site built it also saves money because they can be built with the WordPress content management system (CMS). Small businesses can reduce internet marketing expense  by developing a responsive website design built in WordPress. A responsive website design in WordPress will have a simple back end management system that allows users without programming knowledge to easily add new content. Companies can now update their service pages, add new staff members, promote an event, announce new products and add photos and videos of the new products. A whole gamut of information can be added to your small business website without having to pay for website edits from a professional website design firm. All of this without knowing how to write code.

Having the control of your website content is more critical now than ever before.

Google has led the way with search engines to provide more accurate search results. Google search results are now based on relevant content found on each website. For example if you search for small business responsive website design firms in Lansing, MI Google will look for websites that use keywords such as ‘responsive website design for small business’ in multiple pages of their website. Google will look for common words, design, website, responsive website design, Lansing, MI to make sure the website is legitimate based on the relative content on the website. This also demonstrates how important it is for small businesses to continually add relevant, updated content to their website… but that is another blog entry or email news article.

Besides the need to have a mobile friendly small business website, when was the last time your business website received a fresh new look? We joke here at Connection Group that we can tell the approximate year a website was built based on the design. Kind of like women’s hairstyles, straight long hair is clearly 60’s flower child and teased, moussed, mile high hair and mullet’s are unabashedly big hair from the 80’s. There is often no denying the era a small business website design emerged. Don’t be that small business stuck in the 90’s! Showing a dated design to visitors and  prospects sends the message that your company is not staying current with trends and technology. Much credibility can be lost with one click of the button.

So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call today and let us provide a 15-20 minute responsive website design consultation for your small business. Depending on our schedule, we may be able to take a look at your current website while we are on the phone with you today. We can talk about some of the goals you have in mind for your small business internet marketing locally in the mid-Michigan area or find out if your company needs a more powerful national reach. Updating to a responsive website design is the most affordable website solution to get small businesses current and mobile ready as well as have an updated visually appealing website that will connect with visitors on all devices.