When Should Your eCommerce Business Employ a Graphic Designer?

When it comes to ecommerce, whether a customer is introduced to your business through online marketing, Facebook advertising, an internet search straight to the Home Page or via a banner on another site, the first thing they will see is your design. Having clear design, that reflects and communicates the core values of your business, is key to attracting and retaining your customer base. That’s where the skills of a graphic designer come in. I have over a decade of experience running successful ecommerce businesses, selling over $50m of products to 6m people worldwide. In this blog post I will give some guidance on finding a graphic designer, what to expect and how to use the relationship with a graphic designer to make the most impact on your business.

What is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is a visual communicator. They communicate ideas to inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They have a proven track record and a background in graphic design and skills using a variety of software. But most important of all, they should get your business and be able to translate that in design.

Do I need a graphic designer?

Yes! You may be a whizz on Photoshop. You may even have designed your own website. But ask yourself, as your business grows, as your sales increase, is the increased graphic design needs really the most effective use of your time? Hiring a graphic designer can:

  • Save you time and money

    freeing up staff to concentrate on their actual strengths.

  • Help you stand out from the competition

    having a distinct brand tells a customer something about your company – you care enough to invest in the design.

  • Keep your look consistent

    designers can create a suite of templates, letter heads and web design to use across the company.

  • Help your business grow

    good design really can increase sales.

When should I think about getting a graphic designer?

Now! If you don’t already have one. The sooner you engage a designer the sooner you will see the benefits in increased sales.

Good graphic designers aren't cheap, but they're worth every penny, especially if you can find one that knows your brand and knows how you want to do things.

Your visual branding is key online to customers. It is the first message you send out. So you want to get to get it right. It can be tempting, if you have Photoshop and are tech savvy, to maybe save on cost and create your own design. But a graphic designer is so much more than a technical expert on Photoshop. They will bring a whole toolkit of expertise on how to create holistic visual branding for your company, that will cross over all of your marketing and correspondence.

How much should you expect to pay for a graphic designer?

This is subjective. It depends – on the work that needs to be done and on the budget you can set aside for the work. If you haven’t previously engaged with a designer, it may be a much larger job at first. You will need to get to know each other, as with any working relationship.

I paid a US branding company to rebrand the entire Jersey Beauty Company website. And here’s the truth: you get what you pay for. My site reflects my company and its core image and values. For ongoing project work such as this, I estimate in the region of £500 a day for a good graphic designer. Although this figure could be a lot less depending on whether you employ a full time designer, outsource, and hire locally or internationally.

That sounds like a lot of options - outsourcing, hiring, ordering templates and then populating them with in-house extras week by week…

Working with a graphic designer needs to work for you and your company’s needs. You may want a rebrand of your website – that is one job. You may have new products weekly, offer emails, facebook advertising - there are lots of options available to you depending on your needs.

Outsourcing – it can make sense to outsource large jobs, such as rebranding of your website. Just like if you were refitting a physical store, you would look for a company to undertake the contract, the same is true of website rebranding. It might be tempting to cut corners, but getting the right team to work on your website could make the difference between having a mediocre business and having a great, profitable business.

Hiring an In-house Designer - you may choose to hire a local graphic designer who can come and work on site with you. This has its own benefits – I use in-house staff to work on permanent graphics and email design. That’s because outsourcing for some of those regular tasks can become really expensive.

Templates – When I rebranded JBC’s website, I also got the design team to make a series of email and web templates. This means that the in-house team can populate these templates moving forward. This keeps the brand pure but also reduces longer term costs.

Who should inspire the design? Ask yourself, who do you want to engage with your company? There are two keys to a successful website – traffic and engagement. Firstly, you need to direct people to your site. That comes from your marketing and business plans, from knowing your customer and how to reach them. Secondly, once they land on your page, however that happens, you need to engage with them. Your customer needs to land on your page and feel like, yes, this company is for me. They get me.

So who should inspire your design – whoever you want to engage with it. If it’s women you’re predominately selling it to, it might not be the right thing for you to have an all-male design team make your website. Include your target customer base in the design and re-branding of your company, give them an active voice, and you will see your sales increase. It’s simple, but it’s the easiest thing to overlook.