The always-brilliant Seth Godin posted the following insight today on his blog:
"For a long time, the best way to tell if something was professional, high grade and worth a premium was by judging the slickness of the production values. The Bourne Identity cost more to make than The Toxic Avenger. John Grisham's latest novel was clearly worth more than a self-published typewritten book of poetry. Sergeant Pepper was a more professional album than something from the Skinny Americans, that garage band down the street. […] Now of course, there's autotune and ProTools, which can make any band sound like Brittany. There's Kinko's and Moo cards and plenty of people who will sell you gloss for not so much money.
So I guess instead of slick we're now seeking transparency and reputation and guts."
This is absolutely true. However, it is amazing to me how many businesses still do not take the first step towards polish. 10-15 years ago, it certainly was the case that you had to invest serious money in design to achieve high production values. That is simply not the case today. Every business, organization, or brand can look outstanding for virtually nothing, or a modest amount of investment. Your business is excellent, right? So make sure it looks excellent.In the majority of the clients I work with, we end up hiring a graphic designer, or we build it into their growth plan. Like an attorney or an accountant, a graphic designer is a critical part of your success team. Good designers help you look excellent, and, as Seth explains – that is simply assumed in today's marketplace. For those organizations that can't afford designers, we are consistently able to source terrific web designs quite easily (assuming they use web platforms like WordPress that support them). As far as I'm concerned, if you don't look great, you're basically telling your customers that you don't care about them – and that is not the type of transparency that you want to be out there. The nifty thing about the tools and techniques out there to help you look great, is that they actually help you achieve greater transparency and reputation. Good design helps customers, and if you are helping your customers – they can help you.