Graphic Designer Websites - what you need to know and emphasize

Graphic Designer Websites – what you need to know

So, you’re a graphic designer, and you need a website.   What makes for good graphic designer websites? What should they do?  What should they look like?    Here’s what you need to decide

Morris dancers at Ely cathedral 2 © by Cantabrigensis

There are two types of graphic designers, and thus two types of graphic design firms.  You can either

  1. Solve specific problems for people
  2. Help people look cool.  Most people call this  “Branding”.

A client will want one or the other – if the client knows what they want (i.e. has a definite problem), they will want the problem solving firm.  If they aren’t sure of the problem, or if they have existential problems they will want help in looking cool, however they define it.  If the client comes to you and says something like “People can’t understand how to use our website”, or “we need to find a way to emphasize our new camera batteries with our existing marketing” they are looking for graphic design that solves problems.  If they say something like “Our logo just doesn’t reflect our core values!” then they are looking for a firm that will help them look cool.

So, that being said,  what should your website look like?  Here are some thoughts

Problem Solving Graphic Designer Websites

If you’re solving problems you want your website to

  1. Be direct
  2. Be concise
  3. Make a direct link to your designs and a benefit to somebody
  4. Avoid abstractions
  5. Emphasize cause and effect, and why some designs work better than others
  6. Emphasize something that someone can measure measurable (i.e. “This marketing campaign” generated a 30% increase in sales”)
  7. Include something on the Fibonacci Numbers, or serial position effects, and to emphasize the fact that you are crafting a specific solution to a specific problem, not running an art project
  8. Maximize the use of  verbs in your copy, and minimize the use of adjectives and adverbs

Remember, you’re making the client feel better via something specific, i.e. your designs.  The client will be buying your product, not employing you as their designer.  The client regards the work as their primary objective, they regard you as a secondary objective.  You should consider charging by the project instead of by the hour.

Looking Cool / Branding Graphic Designer Websites

If you’re helping the client look cool, defined as “Branding”, then you want your website to
  1. Emphasize art
  2. Emphasize abstractions
  3. Feel free to use adjectives and adverbs in your copy
  4. Avoid the measurable
  5. Emphasize your likability
  6. Use lots of social proof, i.e. something like “We’ve been using XYZ co for ten years and they’ve all been great”
You’re making the client feel better via something general, i.e. your personality and design talent.  The designs are a necessary by product.  The client will be buying your services and opinions.  The client regards you as their primary objective, they regard your work as a secondary objective.  You should consider charging by the hour.

Examples of good Graphic Designer Websites

Okay, they would refer to themselves as design firms, but take a look at
  1. LuckyFish – Problem Solvers –  a design firm that does fine interactive work
  2. Mock the Agency –  Problem Solvers – a design firm that, while it often uses the term “branding” they deliver specific problems.
  3. Design Industry – Looking Cool – They help with very non-specific problems

What makes them good?  All three sites communicate the strengths of their respective firms quite well.  One thing to note – both Mock and LuckyFish utilize Cargo Collective templates for their sites?  Why?  It doesn’t get in the way and people can see the specifics or their work right away, so it the design accomplished it’s objective well.   Design Industry supplies the general and the abstract to their clients and their site design reflects that.

That’s what I think people need to know about graphic designer websites after 12 years in the business, most of it spent as the technical arm for graphic design firms.


Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog – as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.


Written By Steve French


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