EPoS, E-commerce, Mobile, Websites, Graphic Design
Ever since the early days of the home PC and first Mac computers, there have been design and presentation applications aimed at even the most untrained of home users. In those early days there was Corel clip art and a handful of Powerpoint templates to keep enthusiastic amateurs happy. But these days with tools like Adobe Elements, WordPress, and endless online stock libraries of graphics even your 10 year old kid can produce something that looks half decent at first glance.
So how can design agencies and freelancers get potential clients to understand the added value that come from a bespoke design and justify the extra costs involved?
Ok, so most SME clients can knock up a red SALE banner to go on their website, but can they carry that across to multiple channels and expand on the design to include useful information and design ideas that set them apart from their competition?… probably not. Most business owners can also appreciate good design with many asking for a website that looks like John Lewis or Zara. But not many SME’s really consider the fact that larger companies like these have their own photographic, illustration and design teams, all producing bespoke imagery. It’s this photography and tailored image which helps to make them unique in the mind of consumers and acts as a key differentiator in retail sectors where costs are squeezed tight, making it extremely to difficult to use price alone as your USP.
Big businesses understand the need to invest in great design, photography and illustration. They also know that digital environments have become increasingly homogenised and User Experience best practices have lead to many desktop and mobile websites taking on similar navigation strategies so that customers can find what they want faster and checkout more easily. This leaves a branded look and feel as the only way to let customers know which site they are actually using. So if you use a cheap, template driven site with stock logos, clip art and industry specific text (you can probably guess the site I’m talking about) then you’ll only succeed in making a website that looks like hundreds or maybe even thousands of others and worse still, all with similar content that search engines find difficult to rank in order of importance. It’s a false economy that may seem a cost cutting way of getting your business off the ground, but could damage your business in the long run as you try to differentiate yourself from your competitors, particularly if you aim to offer a quality or bespoke product yourself.
So we say, throw away the clip art and stock photos unless it as absolutely necessary because of time restraints or the logistics of organising the same photos yourself (after all, it’s probably not reasonable to send a photographer half way ’round the world to get one shot that you could buy for $50).
When it comes to websites however, there is much more of a happy medium to be had. As I mentioned earlier, users are becoming more and more aware of sites which function well and have intuitive navigation (particularly mobile commerce sites). So a template ‘based’ website can still be a good choice, even for larger e-commerce businesses with their own unique requirements. A flexible template should allow you to chop and change content frequently and at the same time, save you money on the initial site build, so you can spend it on developing a consistent brand message and quality imagery that is unique to your business. You’d be amazed at how many big name Blue Chips actually use WordPress as their CMS of choice (content management system). Sparkstone are able to work with your preferred CMS and build new bespoke templates for you, as well as being able to supply our own in-house built CMS that over many advanced features that are particularly useful to online retailers.
So why not visit the main Sparkstone website now and see how a bespoke (or hybrid) solution could work for you online, as well as reading more about some of the unique illustrations and design work we produce that helps our clients in stand out in the brand games of 2012.