Category: Design Basics

The Unknown Unknowns of DIY Design

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have many options for skipping the high-priced graphic designer and going the DIY route. Instead of hiring a high-quality web designer, just buy a template. Instead of working with a professional graphic designer, design your own business card. But when you work this way, you are limited by your skills and also the unknowns that you haven’t even considered. Just the other day I had a client ask me to review something they had designed in-house. This is a good client, who I do a lot of work for, but sometimes they have a presentation, or whatever, and do things themselves. They asked me to review their work before sending the item out. Ignorance is bliss What surprised me most were the inconsistencies that seems glaring to me, but were unnoticed by them. For example, the majority of the layout was set in a sans serif face. But there was one area that switched to… Continue Reading »

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What Should Your Logo Do For You?

Last week I was at an in-person networking event of the LinkedIn Maine Entrepreneurs group. I met someone who had recently started their own company and he told me that he gave up on trying to get a logo designed and decided to move ahead without a logo. I’m not going to mention names or go into the details of his business, as it’s not important for this story, but let me tell you the gist of what he said. “We tried working with two different designers and neither one produced anything we liked.”  He continued: “I think that a well-designed logo should be able to stand on it’s own. And that someone looking at it, without seeing the business name, should know exactly what the company does.” Honestly, I was floored. I do not think this is the way to judge the merits of a logo, and here’s why: You can’t illustrate all business concepts: If a logo is… Continue Reading »


Design for Your Business Presentations

Seth Godin has a great piece about making charts that work over at his blog. Godin’s books, blogs and presentations are widely read and viewed and I’m excited whenever a thinker like this points out the importance of design in making a business presentation. He has this quote, (although I don’t know where he found the stats!) that really summed up the problem of most business presentations. 92% of all the business presentations made in the United States are done with templates created by big companies in Excel or Powerpoint. This is a horrible tragedy… when you show me something exactly like something I’ve seen a hundred times before, what do you expect me to do? Here’s a hint: Zzzzzz. It seems like people want to follow a formula for the way a presentation should look. And this formula has been created by Microsoft. The problem is that Microsoft—as strong a company as it is—is not particularly strong in the… Continue Reading »


Your Logo Sucks. Keep It or Redesign It?

Many entrepreneurs feel the pinch when starting a new business. They can’t afford a professional logo, so they rely on DIY logo design or low cost logos. Or, they have so much to do that they get business cards printed and a web site up before developing a real logo. When their business starts to grow and shows signs of success, they step back and reassess their logo. You may be wondering: Is it better to stick with what you’ve got or try something new? Should you hire a professional graphic designer to redesign your logo? Yes. You will look more professional and people will stop snickering when they receive your business card. No. People have come to embrace the “old skool” look of your logo. Yes. You really haven’t been in business very long and it would be better to bite the bullet and do it right before growing any more. No. A logo is not critical to your… Continue Reading »