The Value of Good Design

Sometimes it can be hard for designers to make potential clients understand the value of good design. Many businesses feel they don’t need to hire a designer when they are perfectly capable of setting up a template-based website for free or creating their own letterhead in Microsoft Word. Professional graphic design is about more than making something pretty. It’s valuable, and here’s why.

It Improves Your Company Image

Visual communication is an integral part of a customer’s experience of a company or product, and it plays a key role in building a brand image. Let’s say I’m searching for a new place to get some good Italian food. Here are a couple websites I found for restaurants in my area.


Let’s assume you know nothing about either company other than what you see on their websites. What do you think about each company?

When I see the company website to the left, I think is it a small company that sells cheap Italian food. It’s hard to judge how good the food will taste from a website, but I wouldn’t have high hopes, except that I do see they were voted best pizza in Baton Rouge. Well that’s interesting, and I assume they are mainly a pizza joint. Looking at this website hurts my eyes and I’m easily turned away at the first page.

The website to the right gives me the impression that this company is large (a chain). The photos of the food really look delicious, and the headlines help to portray that message. I would expect the restaurant to have professional service with a casual but somewhat elegant setting, perhaps something similar to the Olive Garden. The website has caught my interest, and I explore it further to discover the menu, a little history, some cooking basics and some other interesting features. I can judge from the website that this is a reputable company that probably has some pretty good food.

By the way, Johnny DeAngelo’s New York Pizza Company (pictured left) is my husband’s favorite Italian restaurant, and he vows that the food is excellent. Johnny’s food is high quality and authentic, and he serves much more than pizza. If I had judged the company purely by its website, I would not be enticed to try it out unless I was in the mood for pizza. But luckily word of mouth brought me in. I have never heard of Carrabba’s until my Google search, but I am considering checking it out as the website has intrigued me.

Every point of contact—your logo, letterhead, brochure, outdoor sign, website—says something about your company. Is it saying the right thing?

It Helps You Reach Goals

Good design is backed with a strategy. A good designer will spend some time getting to know client objectives and will come up with a solution to a problem using design. Good design works to further company goals.

Carrabba’s goal is to get people to their restaurant, and they do that with their website by showcasing exquisite photos of their food with catchy headlines and phrases that show why their restaurant is different and special. All aspects of the website work together to brand the company as a reputable restaurant that serves authentic, delicious Italian food.

It Establishes Trust

Professional design helps to establish a company as trustworthy. According to a 2008 report by WebVisible and Nielson/NetRatings, 77% of respondents reported that they were more likely to make a purchase from an unfamiliar business with a quality website than from a known business with a poor website. If I am looking to buy something online, I will be wary of any website that doesn’t look professional. In fact, I probably won’t bother browsing the site. If you were searching for jewelry, which stores would you be likely to browse and buy from:

It Stands Out Among Competition

One of the things I noticed when trying to find an example of good design vs. bad design is the quantity of bad design out there. What does this mean for you? If your business invests in quality design, you will be a huge step ahead of your competitors who most likely have poor designs. Or, if your competitors do have professionally designed marketing materials, you will at least be in the same league and can focus on your other marketing strategies.

The main limiting factor for businesses is money. Of course a chain restaurant can afford a professionally designed website over a small start-up. But as you grow, dedicate as much as you can in professional design and I think you will see the value it brings to your business.

Feel free to comment. What else makes good design valuable? Has a poorly designed website ever turned you away? What are some of the most terrible websites you’ve seen?

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Jake said on February 18, 2009:

Johnny’s is the best

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