“I’m starting my own business and need a website. Do you know anyone who can do it?”
“My yoga instructor’s nephew does websites, he can do it.”
“I need a logo too, and some brochures.”
“Oh, I’m sure he can do that too.”
What’s missing from the conversation is the question: Is he a professional designer?
Free design software has given everyone access to the tools that were once the express purview of the professional graphic designer. Nowadays, anyone with a clunky copy of Microsoft Publisher can design their own brochures, or an ad like this, and fill them with cheesy clipart and hideous fonts and have them printed on bright pink paper at the local quick print, so why hire a professional to do the job? These tools give the false impression that anyone can be a designer. Forgive my snobbishness but knowing how to type doesn’t make you a writer.
I don’t cut my own hair, fix my own car, do my own taxes or put fillings in my own teeth; I hire professionals to do these things for me. Re: taxes, it’s not that I couldn’t do my own taxes per se, it’s that the time involved in doing them myself far outweighs the expense of having them done by my CPA. Time is money, and my time is more valuable being spent doing other things.
In an effort to save money, budget-minded small business owners and individuals needing professional design services are often tempted to do it themselves. What they may not realize is that:
1. Their time is always better spent building their business, not sitting in front of a computer for hours trying to figure out how to design their own website or next direct-mail postcard.
2. The materials they are producing are actually undermining their business image by portraying them as unprofessional or amateurish.
I recently re-designed a logo for a charity event — it had originally been designed by a non-professional — whose board of directors recognized that the existing logo was sub-par and that they needed the services of an experienced graphic designer to create a logo that represented their organization and fundraising event in the best way possible. See my final design here.
The objection I often hear to hiring a professional designer is I can’t afford it; I don’t have the budget for it. I would say candidly that you simply don’t want to spend the money, maybe because your copy of Microsoft Office is whispering, “Just use me!” or your nephew can do it cheaper, or you don’t recognize the intangible value of a good logo, web design or marketing materials, but successful businesses are successful in part because they do recognize the value a professional graphic image conveys to their customers. Ford, Apple and Nike hire and use the absolute best advertising, marketing and graphics professionals available because they know the value image contributes to their bottom line. Small business owners should be no less aggressive in their pursuit of the best graphics professionals they can afford.
The next time you need graphic design services, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Ignore the earnest pleas of your free graphics software and hire a professional.
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