Business owners of every kind have a lot to juggle from day to day. They need to choose the right business loans, establish their legal structure, stay aware of the patterns in their target market, study their potential customers, and ensure their ideal customer has a positive experience every time.
They also need to perform market analysis, make a financial plan and business plan and stick to them, stay on top of financial statements, spend wisely with their business credit cards, increase customer loyalty, capitalize on marketing efforts and marketing assets, refine user experience, keep a close eye on both their business expenses and their business goals, and sometimes keep a good lawyer around for ongoing legal advice.
There’s another area that many business owners are realizing they need to brush up on and get more serious about; and that’s design – the visual or aesthetic presentation of their business. Design elements include the look of their packaging inserts, the quality of their product photos and graphic design output, the presentation of their website and landing pages, whether they consistently use high-quality images and other visuals throughout their digital and print ecosystem, and making sure their product and media tell the kind of story they want their customer to experience.
Skip the Heavy Lifting
You don’t have to be a design wizard or carry a degree in design or fine arts to get your visuals looking good. Of course, if you’ve got the budget to hire one or two full-time folks to spearhead a creative design department, by all means, go for it.
The tools we’ll discuss here today will help them do their job even better. But it is important you understand that in today’s world of endless apps and programs, there are countless easy-to-learn, user-friendly tools that business owners and their limited staff can use to sharpen their image, polish their visuals, and make their business look even better. Let’s check out 5 of these helpful design tools right now.
From graphic layouts and key presentations to brochures, advertising pamphlets, e-booklets, eye-catching emails, signs and so much more, using Canva is like having a graphic artist around. Built on an intuitive, easy-to-navigate platform that lets you drag and drop, type, select and change endless visual and text elements quickly, Canva brings professional design and graphic artistry to your media with ease and a very low cost.
Starting at the very affordable rate of “free,” for their basic service, Canva also offers Canva Pro and Canva for Teams’ plans, just $12.99 or $14.99 per month, respectively, that provide users with a greater range of design choices and premium content. Canva remains a top choice for anyone looking to up their basic design skills game without spending a fortune or getting an advanced degree.
Photographs and other graphic images are an integral part of so much of what we do today. From social media and visual presentations to advertising packets and landing pages, making sure we have just the right photos to match the mood and focus is a must.
Too many stock photo sites have an endless array of overly posed, canned looking images of people and a lot of other pictures that every other business seems to use already. The great thing about Unsplash is that it is made up entirely of UGC, or User-Generated Content. That means you’ve got a deep well of images taken by people across multiple walks of life, in varied situations, both posed and arranged, along with images taken of real-life and everyday situations, and an assortment of landscapes. Users add their own content all the time. So, your choices are always expanding.
Need a picture of a family playing near a lake for your family law website? You got it. Need some industrial images of production, warehousing, or other similar environments? No problem. How about an assortment of corporate or technical images with or without people? For sure, it’s here. Unsplash has something for every situation and need. It just takes a little time to search.
One of the best things about Unsplash is that it is totally free. Unsplash gives you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, modify, copy, distribute, and use photos for free, including for commercial purposes. Additionally, Unsplash now offers Unsplash+ for just $7 a month, giving you more options with a range of members-only content choices and increased legal protections.
Sometimes, even when we have the right images in place, the right text, and overall design scheme, our colors might still be wrong, just not ideal for the particular project we’re working on. Enter Coolors. Coolors is a super-fast color palettes generator that helps individuals and businesses lock in their best color choices.
You can start it up, watch the colors spin by and select ones you like when they come up, moving from one block to the next until you have a complete pallete that you like. You can also select one from a variety of existing palletes arranged for their aesthetic excellence.
And one of the coolest features is the ability to upload a photo and have Coolors analyze and use every color from the image to create a color palette you can use for other media. You even have choices within this option as well. You can still select the colors you want and toss out the ones you don’t, leaving behind just the right color combinations for your next project.
Color isn’t just about simple visuals. It affects your customer’s mood, their understanding of your product or service, their comfort level, and how likely they are to engage and stay with you. Colors work on an unconscious level to affect a range of thoughts, emotions, and personal decisions.
Website Builders: WordPress, WIX, & Squarespace
There are so many great website building tools these days. It used to be that there was no way you could get a high-quality site built for less than several thousand dollars. And while skilled web designers are an incredibly important member of the design and media community, and a must-have for many organizations, any small business owner can take some time to learn how to navigate with WordPress, WIX, Squarespace, or one of several other user-centered web design platforms, and have a site up not long after.
Each of these functions differently from one another. Some builders are better for bloggers and written content, while others excel at high-performance moving visuals. And each carries their own features and integrations with other programs to make marketing, email, social media, and other actions easy and effective.
Most platforms start at the free mark for a basic service with fewer options, then hit on a few price points, and move up toward the $49 per month range. Every service is different, and every option provides different features or access levels. Be sure to compare a few, ask questions, and choose the one that seems right for your business.
ProofHub is a platform to help you manage all your project-related tasks, along with your team, your communication, your files, digital assets, and much more. Of course, ProofHub works for a host of different projects, but when we’re talking about design or written content, it’s definitely a huge help.
Imagine being able to create proofs of current projects with integrations to a handful of other apps, collaborate in real time on them, communicate instantly about needed changes, manage your deliverables and schedules, and so much more. View mock-ups of important design and media projects, discuss them with other collaborators or with clients and customers remotely, and make changes on the spot to see the improvement.
You can try ProofHub for free, then choose their Essential plan for $49 per month, billed annually, or the Ultimate Control plan for just $89 per month, billed annually, or $99 every 30 days to gain access to the most options.
There are so many other programs to choose from, so many apps to add style, sharpen your content, expand your presentation, gain loyal customers, get more appointment bookings, stay on top of business finances, follow your personal goals, manage eCommerce SEO, increase online presence, and get your business looking, sounding, and functioning the way it needs to for continued success.
You don’t need to overdo it with apps and programs. Simply choose the ones that serve your unique purposes and take time to learn these. For high-level design work, make sure to partner with a pro, and for all your IT and technology support needs, make sure to partner with a quality IT service provider like Tech Masters.
Design and technology don’t have to be difficult. With the right tools and the right support, you can always be sure you’re presenting yourself and your business in exactly the right light.
Tech Masters helps business owners increase productivity and make the most of their tech tools with individually tailored IT service plans. Connect with us today to get started and ask us how you can qualify for our incredible 3 Months Free Service Trial with our Enterprise MSP program.
To learn more about making the most of today’s design tools, check out our frequently asked questions below.
Why is design important for my business?
Visual and content design aren’t just about looking pretty. It’s about having a unified visual narrative that speaks with the same story and emotion to your clients and customers across all channels. It’s about attracting new customers, building loyalty, and helping people feel at ease and excited as they navigate your media.
It’s about a stunning finished product, positive customer feedback, an intuitive and seamless experience, online purchases that make sense to customers, a strong brand image, and a successful business for years to come.
Do I need to hire or contract design professionals for my business?
First off, we’ll definitely say that experienced, well-trained design pros are a phenomenal asset to your organization and your mission. They have the skills and time under their belt to create powerful, memorable, action-oriented presentations, marketing materials, and other media choices, that speak volumes without even saying much at all. They can be one of your strongest allies.
However, with all the design tools available today, small business owners can design attractive, professional materials and online media, for a fraction of the cost it once required. It takes a bit of time to learn some of these programs but they come with in-depth tutorials and customer support.
How do I know which design tools are best for my business?
Ultimately, only you can answer that. It’s about choosing only the ones you really need and not getting overloaded with programs you barely ever use. Talk to other business owners about their best apps and programs. Read reviews. Sign up for free trials to take a few for a test drive, and look at some businesses that you admire and find out what tools they use.
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