How Saving On Design Could Cost You More In The Long Term

mistake

One of the most common questions you ask me is:

Who is your designer?

Once I tell you that I have an in-house designer and I also contract out a large portion of my work to Digital Telepathy, the first thing you respond with is “Digital Telepathy is too expensive”.

Now, by no means am I here to tell you what designer you should hire and what to pay him or her. But what you should be asking yourself is…

What is a good designer worth to me?

Although I can’t answer that question for you, let me break down what a good designer is worth to me.

Designs are investments over time

When a designer gives you a bill, what do you see it as? An expense, right? When a designer gives me a bill, I see it as an investment. For me, it is something that appreciates and helps your business grow.

Just look at the detailed guides I have cranked out. The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking that I released on Monday is averaging 40,000 pageviews a day. Sure, I spent well into the five figures to get it designed, but the results are worth it. Here are some of the early results:

  • 40,000 pageviews a day (I expect the traffic to die down after a week).
  • I got featured in Moz’s top 10 email, which goes out to over 218,432 people.
  • I got offered two speaking gigs because of the guide. One of them asked me to speak for free; the other offered $10,000 and a first class ticket to Paris (I turned both down due to lack of time).
  • A car manufacturer asked me to lead its Growth Hacking team. Although I am not in the market for a job, they said it would pay well into the six figures. I didn’t get an exact salary number as I wasn’t open to discussing the opportunity with them.
  • Based on my referral log, the guide received over 59 backward links so far. I expect this number to go into the hundreds, but 59 isn’t too bad. This should help increase my overall search traffic.

Those are just a few things that a great design did for me. Sure, the design was expensive, but the ROI on it was huge.

Plus, do you really think you would read the growth hacking guide if it was ugly? Some of you might, but a lot of you wouldn’t.

Good designs last longer

With technology changing so fast, you will have to update your designs sooner or later… especially if you focus on conversion optimization.

The one thing I’ve learned the hard way is that when I skimp on paying a good designer, I end up redoing my design roughly four times. That’s right… a good design typically lasts me four times longer than a design I get done overseas for a few hundred bucks.

Eventually, I end up footing the bill to hire a good designer, so these days I don’t even waste my time with mediocre designers.

A good example of this is our original Crazy Egg application interface. It has been used for over six years. Sure, we need to update it, but the design is usable and looks good enough so that we don’t have to constantly change it.

Yes, we did spend more money by hiring great designers in the first place, but in the long run it saved us money. It saved us money not just on the design itself, but also on engineering costs. Every time you have a new application design, your engineers have to integrate it, which starts adding up very fast.

Good designs convert better

Web designers shouldn’t be designing an application, site or even a landing page based on looks. They should be designing for usability and conversions.

When we first hired Digital Telepathy to create a new design for Crazy Egg, we paid them around $20,000. Most people thought we were crazy, but because our designers focused on improving our conversion rate, we got a huge return on our investment.

crazy egg demo

Their concept was to showcase the product through an interactive demo. The end result was a 21% increase in conversion rate. We made back the money we paid them in less than 30 days.

I also got similar results when I decided to pay someone to create a more interactive speaking page.

speaking page

The end result was a 266% increase in speaking requests. That’s huge!

Conclusion

Typically, with design, the more you save, the less you make. If you are looking to hire a good designer, you should evaluate the following:

  • Skill level – designers love getting critiqued by other designers. Check out your designer’s portfolio on Dribbble. If a designer has over 100 “hearts”, it means the other designers like this designer’s work. If he or she doesn’t have a lot of hearts, it usually means that the work isn’t that great or that person is new to Dribbble. Keep in mind that this is a general rule of thumb and not applicable to everyone as many desginers aren’t on Dribbble.
  • How logical they are – a designer shouldn’t create something because he or she wants to. Instead, the designer gets feedback from your customers or even potential customers to figure out what your design should look like.
  • Analytics is the key – if your designer doesn’t understand how to read stats on Google Analytics or read survey results, he or she won’t know how to design for your customer. The designer should be using data to influence his or her decisions.
  • Conversion rate optimization– the end goal is to convert more visitors into customers. I never hire designers who don’t understand conversion optimization. You can have the prettiest design, but if it doesn’t convert, it doesn’t matter.
  • Do they have a backbone? – you don’t want to hire a “yes-man”. You want someone who will tell you “no” and do what’s best for your business.
  • Usability – look at their portfolio and evaluate how usable their designs are. If their designs don’t make sense or seem to be confusing, they probably aren’t a good fit for you.
  • Simplicity – some of the best designs are the simple ones. Not just from a usability standpoint, but also from a traffic standpoint. Simple designs tend to load faster, which means your search engine traffic can potentially increase.

Now, if you can find a designer who meets all of the qualities above and is very affordable, great! But if you can’t, don’t hire someone just because he or she is cheap. Think of design as an investment and not a cost.

So, what do you think about paying good designers? Are they worth it?

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Comments

  1. yes good designs are really very important for any blog or a website. it can attract and can give a nice feeling to visitors. but I think for new bees it’s OK to go with a free template or theme because it saves lots of money.

    • Gaurav, great point. If you are just starting out and don’t have the budget then it is definitely okay to go with a free template.

    • hey Gaurav,

      If it’s your first site, and don’t have enough money, I guess you can outsource the task on Fiverr or Guru, and do fine with it – or learn Photoshop and create some stunning design yourself…

      Neil

      I feel what you’re saying

      To me design is the right investment at the right time… I outsource logos and blog design from scratch… didn’t think to create infographics yet, but that’s an idea worth considering…

      I’ve also noticed that if I’m working with cheap designers, then I have to hire other guys to revamp previous design, and sometimes I’m spending more than earning…

      So I’ve made a decision to work with pro designers and skip the rest…

      My niche is health… I build lots of blogs, trying to dominate Google with good quality content and appealing design… Over the past years I have built a small network of 300+ aged domain names/niche sites… and the ride was definitely a roller coaster…

      If any of you guys are keen to hear more about my approach to niche site building and SEO/affiliate marketing, the you could grab a free PDF report I share with subscribers…

  2. Great article , realize the value of design of Guide, Blog or website. Thanks

  3. you’ve done really great job with that guide, it’s great design! Already downloaded and it’s waiting to be read :)

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more on this one. Using your advice from a few weeks ago, I switched my opt-in page to Unbounce (simply for their designed), and I have already seen an increase in conversions and revenue because of it.

    Just looking at the Way Back Machine gives me something to cringe at for how bad my site design used to be!

    • Robert, thats a great tool. It’s always fun to a/b test to see what works and what doesn’t. I myself have gone through so many revs of copy and design in the past. I am constantly upgrading :)

  5. This is always a tough decision, especially for teams that are just getting started. For young companies, marketing is usually the department that has to penny-pinch.

    Neil, the challenge I keep seeing is how to get management to see your perspective – value – so they open their wallets with a view on return instead of expense.

    Hopefully showing them articles like these will help :)

    Cheers!

    • David, I definitely think showing them the value add that is highlighted in the article will help. I also think it’s vital to really break everything down into a conversation about ROI. Upper management like seeing numbers in action. I would suggest breaking it down that way!

  6. The post important thing you said in this post…

    “A web designer shouldn’t be designing an application, site, or even a landing page based on looks. They should be designing for usability and conversions.”

    • Marvin, I also think this is the biggest takeaway. It’s all about conversions and getting people from point A to point B. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions :)

  7. Speaking about “skill”: What about designers that don’t promote themselves all over dribble/etc? Are those guys not “skilled?”

  8. As a design firm we stress this importance to our potential clients every day. Although design becomes subjective or a commodity to the uneducated client.

    Thanks for making a great point Neil!

    • Cody, I think you’re on the right track then. It’s all about letting people know how important it is to create websites that convert. Best of luck moving forward!

  9. Great article Neil. Surely design matters. Elizabeth Sillence, and her team, conducted a study where they asked a bunch of people to find websites about hypertension. Then she asked people to record whether they trusted or distrusted the websites they found, and why. When she reviewed the reasons why people distrusted a website, 94% cited DESIGN problems. (Source: http://socialtriggers.com/content-is-king-myth/)

    But as you explained just great designs ins’t the key. Design that converts works best. Surely most of the small business doesn’t have the budget to spend much on designs. So coming up with a design that converts is kind of a big deal.

    • Sourav, thanks for this study. I will definitely have to check it out. At first glance this couldn’t be any more true. It’s all about designing for your visitors in the hopes that they complete an action that you consider a key performance indicator or conversion.

  10. I’m a veteran UI/UX Web Designer and this article is gospel. I see too many business kill themselves over bad design, or, not listen to those that know how to design.

    This should be the golden rule:
    “A web designer shouldn’t be designing an application, site, or even a landing page based on looks. They should be designing for usability and conversions.”

    And to go with that, business owners shouldn’t overly contradict the designer’s choice simply because the aren’t “wowed” by the design. The best designs are invisible!

    I always ask my clients; would you rather people love your design or buy your goods/services?

    • Rus, awesome that you agree with many of the points… it really validates what I have been thinking all along :) . Conversions are key. If you have a website without an aim or purpose then it’s fine to skimp on design. However, if you really want to push the needle and get visitors that lead to conversions then it is essential to invest in design.

  11. Neil, great point about treating design as investment rather than expense, sums it up. Thanks for the post!
    You mentioned that your design costs 5 figures. Given that you already generated other guides with similar design, what drives the design costs so high? Is this the standard price for all your guides or are there new tricks in usability and conversions that you and your designers have come up with which drives the costs? It would interesting to know the cool usability and conversions tricks that you are adopting.

    • Well they have to create a new design for each guide, that’s the expensive part. Sure certain elements are similar, but illustration work is very time consuming. I could get it cheaper if I want, but the quality wouldn’t be the same.

  12. wow you paid 20,000 for that design. but like you said you got your money back.

    thanks for sharing Neil.

  13. Hey Neal, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Having an outstanding design gives your site instant validation with new visitors. However, finding a designer who “meets all of the qualities above and is very affordable” seems circumstantial.

    I was reading an entrepreneur’s daily log on Reddit (here – http://www.reddit.com/r/EntrepreneurRideAlong/comments/se2yy/day_2_basic_site_design_april_17th_2012/) and he was very transparent with his numbers. I’m interested in what you think about his experience and how relative design costs are to different industries.

  14. In the early stages of a business, this is one of the toughest decisions to make. It’s also one that triggers “Penny wise, pound foolish” mode.

    Obviously the ROI is much higher(pound) but startups are generally reluctant to fork over such a large amount of cash in the beginning.

    Still, I don’t think it’s fair to generalize – in some cases, opting for a less snazzy design(but one that retains function, of course) might be better: http://www.ecommercefuel.com/inside-relaunch-online-store/

    BTW – There is a typo here: So do you think paying good designers? Are they worth it?

    Sorry to be “that guy” :P

    • Shabbir, great point. It often does depend on the market you are tapping in to. In my experience design has always been the first priority and continues to be. Thanks for the heads up on the typo :). I always appreciate people looking through and pointing out things!

  15. Great points Neil. We use WordPress, which makes it easy to update our website. You have some great points on the design end. We are not limited with WordPress because we use Pagelines /DMS along with it and my partner is a Pagelines developer.

    I like looking at other websites to checkout what’s new in design and then I go back and say, can we do this, and there’s always a way.

    You can have the most creative designed website, but if you don’t have it optimized for search, we specialize in local, no one is going to find that beautifully designed website.

    I would assume that you helped with the title tags, meta descriptions, alt image tags, etc on your website in order to get that many visitors to your website. Especially, since that’s part of what you do? But, I should not assume anything.

    I look forward to taking a look at what your designer has done and thanks for the tip on Dribble. My partner is the WordPress Expert, I’m getting there, but we are always looking for great design ideas.

    Thanks again for the article.

    Susan

    • Yep, I have worked on optimizing the site for search engines so it can be found. Now granted, there is probably more I can do… and eventually, I will get to it all.

  16. Hi Neil,

    Great article as usual, but this one hits home with me because I’m in the same business as Digital Telepathy. We design clean and visually appealing sites that are intuitive and easy to navigate. But a lot of times we have to push back very hard with the client to get them to understand the overall goals of the design and page. So your designer rule of “Do they have a backbone – you don’t want to hire a yes man. You want someone who will tell you “no” and do what’s best for your business.” hits the nail clean on the head. It’s great to see someone make this statement, especially someone successful with influence.

    I’ll be sure to share this article in a write up.

    • Aaron, I think that is a very vital point. It’s important to hire a consultant, whether it be design or marketing, that isn’t afraid to tell you what needs to be done. A yes man will not push the bottom line and will only hamper your progress. I think designs that are clean and get to the point are vital for anyone trying to sell a product or service on the net. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  17. Well I think it’s about usability and trust (speed, featuring, brand logos)… look at Google. very simple designs. if that’s what you call good design i agree (by the way Google designer himself can be found on dribbble). LMFAO or Lady GAGA design belongs to portfolios not marketing.

    • Yassin, I agree completely. Simple designs will always convert better. If you are in the entertainment industry, you are right again, you can have all the pomp and extravagance you want. Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated :)

  18. Awesome sauce to the nth degree Neil. Read your stuff daily, but have never before commented.

    Now for the sequel: the copywriter equivalent. You obviously don’t need to invest in copywriters, but most clients do. Why don’t they? “Costs too much.”

    So they hire chumps. Gee, I wonder what happens (or doesn’t) then.

    • Barry, glad you brought up that point. I think it is vital to invest in copywriters as well. Without a great copy your conversions will definitely not be as high. It’s all about optimizing on all cylinders. Thanks for your feedback :)

  19. Neil – As a designer with almost 15 years, I have to agree with most of what you have listed here for your readers. I especially agree with looking at design work as an investment, and more importantly, hiring a designer who understands your brand and your needs. Many designers don’t understand the importance of branding and settle with giving the client what they want, but what they want is almost always not what they need. It’s bad for the client and bad for the designer. I’ve been writing about the benefits of design for some time for both the designer and those who are looking for design. And this post is something I would share with newbies.

    • Dennis, glad you reached out. I love hearing from designers who can validate my thoughts on the subject. I think designers who are also marketers, that understand branding, are the best bet. If a designer is just designing for visual elements then they are not going to push the needle for the website. It’s all about combining design and marketing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. 100% agree on this argument and I have personally seen how paying a good designer or hiring a good designer will help make more money over time.
    It’s the art which sells and keep the attention of the target audience for a longer time.

    • Fernando, great points. Art and design will always maintain the attention of visitors. Designers have a great ROI over time and it is important to invest in them. Thanks for reading!

  21. Hi Neil,

    Great post! I particularly appreciate your transparency in sharing your design costs and results. Thank you for the helpful insights.

    My partner and I just redesigned the homepage and a few landing pages for our SEO Consulting website. I am going to be monitoring pageviews, bounce rate, and page duration amongst other things to determine the effectiveness.

    If you have a moment and wouldn’t mind checking out our homepage and offering your opinion on the new design, My team and I would love you forever! ;)

    Cheers!
    Keep up the great work.

    Keller

    • I think there is a lot going on with the Volume SEO site. You should focus more on content and tell people through a simple headline and tagline, what you do. I would also add call to actions on your homepage and talk about what makes you different than all of the other SEO firms out there.

      Again, this is just my feedback. You should be ideally getting feedback from your ideal customers. ;-)

  22. I agree that paying a designer is a good investment, but when you do not have the resources, you should prioritise and use alternative support to get the design needed.
    I agree with your points and conclusions, but a small scale business, needs to plan the finances slightly different then medium or bid companies.
    Young, not that famous designers should be given a chance if the pass the qualification tests and criteria that you are mentioning.
    Thanks for sharing this very useful post, as always.
    Kind regards.
    Aleksandra

    • Aleksandra, great points! If you don’t have the budget to spend on a tip-top design then you should definitely get the job done by up and coming designers that charge less for great work. More often than not you’ll find hidden gems out there when you look for freelance designers. Thanks for reading!

  23. This was a really great article Neil, thanks for sharing!

    - Alvin Chadwick

  24. Hey Neil,

    Awesome post, as usual :)
    I’m absolutely agree with all the points there. From a long time ago I’m trying to find some good designer guy to outsource part of my work, since I can’t handle it all.

    The main problem I see in the most designers is that they are simply UI designers… Most of them don’t care (and even don’t ask) what is the product/service/site about.. how it should works or what’s the goal.. They follow their own goal – to make an awesome design (which would impress other designers, but costumers don’t care about it :)

    Whit the dribbble “hearts” there’s a similar problem. They are from designers. Some of my most stupid shots, got more likes of some shots of the highest converting landing pages. sounds wired, isn’t it :)

    • Thanks for the feedback Ivo. It’s really valuable because you would know better than me and most people as you are a designer on Dribbble. I’ve seen that myself as some of the images on their have a ton of hearts, even though they suck.

      You make a good point about many designers not trying to understand the customer. Without that you can’t build a good product or service.

  25. Thanks for writing this, Neil. It’s awesome to get a behind-the-scenes look into what went into the design process for various projects (and what the results were).

    Great design is an instant credibility boost that gives your audience a reason to stick around, especially since you have 10 seconds to convince them to do just that (according to this Nielsen study: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/).

    • Sarah, thanks for the study it was very insightful. I agree with you, design can really give your site some legitimacy. People often judge things on first glance so your design should be as good as it can be.

  26. Your lesson of the day reminded me of the wisdom of Cosmo Castorini from Moonstruck, “It costs money because it saves money!” although he was referring to copper pipes :-) Great advice all around.

  27. “Web Designer” is a misleading term that can result in a bit of confusion.

    If you’re an internet marketer, what you really want is a front-end web developer who designs strictly in HTML5/CSS3.

    “Web designers” who are literally graphic designers will simply create the website inside of photoshop and then require you (or you to pay them more) to “splice” the PSD document into HTML/CSS/Wordpress theme.

    The result is extra costs and a poor product. PSD sites take longer to load because of the additional graphics, have a harder time displaying properly on all devices and are a pain in the ass to get “responsive”.

    Within 5 years “PSD to HTML” is going to be ancient history.

  28. Great post Neil. I think I might have the great folks over at Digital Telepathy re-design one of our sites.

    I do think that far too many entrepreneurs look at the “cost” versus the “value” and “return” they can get, and its why many fail.

    • Phil, great point. You really have to look at your capabilities and your budget when considering design. If you can afford it and it pushes your bottom line then why not!?

  29. Neil,
    I love your articles. Do you have any article about subject “unnatural links” ? I’m looking it.
    Thanks very much.
    My email : vhp.asia@gmail.com

  30. Hey Neil

    Another fantastic post , but I would love to add something from my experiences with design that will help your readers.

    I want to add to your points about simplicity, data analysis and conversion rate optimization. Like you said people that are just starting out or are intermediate simply cannot afford to pay 20k for a design as much as they would like to.

    I think probably the best way to approach something like this is to create a comprehensive design brief and vision to guide your designer ( who you should already pre screen for skill level, previous work done, what others think of his or her work ect)

    I have achieved some great results with affordable designers by taking charge of a lot of the foot work and creating comprehensive explanations, examples and rationalisation as to who your potential customer is and what they want.

    One of the best ways is to find examples in your industry of someone who is doing it right and explain why.

    Im not going to lie, this does take a lot of time and effort but I am slowly learning that this is the only way one should approach any design work.

    Like you said bad design just drains your business of money and adds expensive and at times complicated development work on top of it – not to mention the extreme levels of stress and frustration that develop.

    I also want to restate how important simplicity and elegance of design is, look at super successful brands such as Apple and the simple blog layout of Derek Hapern’s Social triggers to see what I mean.

    Elaborate and confusing designs might work well in an art museum but online they are like roadblocks stopping large parts of your traffic from having a smooth journey through your site.

    Design is as much about space and minimalism as it is about colourful graphics and displays.

    I think the infographic on your contact page is a perfect example of this – beautiful, clear and gets the message across much more effectively than text alone ever could.

    If anyone is to take one message from my reply its this :

    Put in the legwork before you even start looking for a designer, not only will it give you a much clearer idea of what you want, but it will get you a much better result in the end and save you money and hassle in the long term.

    Paul Back

    • Paul, I love how you summarized and added to all the points. You are spot on it’s all about living within your means when designing your website. If you have no visitors then there is no need to invest $20k plus into a design. I think starting off slow and really iterating as your traffic grows is the best strategy. There is a renaissance of design that is really taking marketing by storm. Infographics, video and other formats are really taking over. I think this trend will continue and we will see more quality content popping up on the top spots on SERPs. Love the feedback, thanks for reading!

  31. Yep, design sure is vital. Considering a lot of people aren’t computer literate you need to have everything concise and easy to use. Even then people will get confused!

    One design thing I think everyone should stop – infographics. They had there run but people still haven’t caught on that a £500 infographic really isn’t very interesting any more. Try a Vine instead.

    • Alex, great point. Simple designs will always convert better. It’s vital to focus on designs that allow users to perform actions in a streamlined way. I still feel infographics are vital for any content marketing campaign. Vine will definitely be a wave of the future. Thanks for your feedback!

  32. Expense is the vital fact about any investment. Tanks a lot Neil, this explanation is awesome!

  33. Attractive designs always work.

  34. Hi Sir,
    I am thinking of starting a new site and for a past few days I was looking for all types of designs that were not very costly. So, I thought of compromising with the money. Incidently, I bumped into this article and now I know that that probably it wasn’t the best bet.
    I probably won’t be spending $10,000 on the design but definitely something that satisfies my mind.
    Thanks a lot for the post.

    • Mayank, I definitely think you should consider your budget when picking out a design. You can surely find something that is reasonably priced and within your budget. As long as a great job is done, price shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know if you need any help :)

  35. Yeah, this definitely makes sense to spend money on good design, but you need to have the money in the first place :D

  36. So far i`ve found all of your advices precious but this one cannot be measured how true and important it is , but i`m questioning myself what if the new design fails and i loose my alredy fine base of conversions and visitors , how can i be sure the new design will hit the spot ?

    • Punjac, you really have to a/b test so you can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s best to always have a failsafe just in case your new design and copy doesn’t convert well. Let me know how it all works out :)

  37. Design is so important and as you say helps with so much.

    I see many websites with lots of traffic but poor conversion and the main reason is design, and not just graphical design the actual layout of things. Where the search box is and phone number.

    The crazy egg example says a lot. Thanks for the post.

    • Jon, you’re absolutely correct. It’s all about designing for conversions. You want to make sure there are call to actions that supplement your design so you can push the bottom line and get visitors to turn into conversions. Thanks for your feedback :)

  38. Great read. Any recommendations on where else to find great designers?
    Thanks

  39. A great article as usual Neil, this one closer to my heart.

    As a professional graphic and web designer, it pains me to admit to the amount of clients looking for “the cheapest deal” instead of the best ROI. I hate it when people ask if we can “just come down a bit in the price department.” I think the general perception of design is that “anybody can do it, it’s easy” and people run with that strange misconception a lot of the time.

    If more people looked on design as an investment rather than something you can get done on Fiverr, then everyone’s businesses would profit as a result.

    There’s a lot wrong with the perception of designers and the design business as a whole at the minute, something I’m looking to assist in fixing!

    Thanks for bringing this message to the forefront on such a high profile blog!

    • Tony, I hit you are spot on. People more often than not are looking for the cheapest way to get their sites up. What they often overlook is that cheap doesn’t always convert. It is better to invest in a great design (if you have the resources to do so) and reap the benefits. Glad I could help. Please let me know if you have any questions or additional feedback :)

  40. This was helpful. I am about to get a designer to redo my site and after much toiling over the cost, I am just going to buck up. I think having a really great design can really make you stand out from the herd. And if you have the content, make all the difference.

    • Turner, it’s all about standing out. You have to do whatever you can to make sure your design and webpage are unique. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions of additional feedback :)

  41. Yes, your design might be pretty but without good content and aggressive promotion there will be no traffic and when there is no traffic, no ROI. Therefore, people should focus on three main areas 1. good content
    2. Very aggressive promotion
    3. Patience

  42. Neil, thanks for the great article on web designers! It is so true that you need to hire the right one out of the gate. Take your time and shop around to find that designer who will build a design that will last.

    We use your Crazy Egg product on a daily basis and love the heatmaps! Killer idea. We are always coming up with ideas like that to launch so I can identify with your entrepreneurial mindset. Thanks for this post as it is a reminder to stay focused and hire a great designer!

    • Jeff, glad I could provide some insight into the field. I think finding a great designer will really push the needle and allow you to achieve great results. That’s awesome that you use Crazy Egg, it will really help you figure out where to iterate and optimize your design.

  43. Definitely. A website’s design often provides the first impression customers have of a company. And you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention so it’s very important to have a well designed website/product. You don’t have to pay “too” much for a web designer but of course, their rate depends on their experience and skills. The key maybe is to really get to know the designer better, his experience and skills, portfolio and most importantly his attitude.

    • Michelle, first impressions are definitely important. Your visitors will always have a certain feeling when visiting your site every time after that first time. It’s important to keep your design simple and intuitive. You are spot on in regards to pricing. You definitely have to figure in your budget and then move forward with a design plan. Throwing money at a design isn’t the best strategy. You have to research and focus on conversions.

  44. Good designs convert better :) yes yes yes
    I too believe this, and i loved this post from top to bottom :D awesome , these things should see by every CEOs

  45. This is great article. Content is king then Design is queen. Without queen, King will die. I will think about it seriously.

  46. Design is really important, but hiring pro’s is quite the challenge for small businesses that don’t have the budget.

    • Marco, you bring up a great point. When I first started out I used a less expensive design. I think each person should find the right design according to their means and scale from there.

  47. good designs are very important part of getting user attention. Not only for the sponsors but also for the readers.

  48. Hey Neil,
    This such a great post, i owned a web design company sometime back and it was difficult explaining value though we did get the right clients after painstaking work.
    I am currently redesigning my website on my own as I dont have that kind of money for investment and I would also like to build my list and traffic first.
    Thanks for talking about what to look out for in design so that when that time comes I will have an idea.
    Digital Telepathy my already have a lead here lol
    Thanks a lot for sharing

    • David, I think people should design according to their means. Once you scale and have the larger budgets to invest in expensive design your traffic will likely be much larger. It’s all about scaling intelligently. Let me know if you have any questions while re-designing your site :)

  49. I find the most important things for are a sight are easy and obvious navigation and fast loading times. Nothing kills a site like slow loading.

  50. Great article ..
    Thanks for sharing Neil !

    Keep up the great work.
    Yassine

  51. Great article. You made us realize the importance of hiring expensive and good website designers with logic. Thanks Neli.

  52. Patel Sb, Motivated by your blog & tips, I also started a blog. I know I will be successful if I deploy just 50% of your tips.
    Thanks a lot & Wish me luck.

  53. Really glad I ran across your website and content today. This is the single most valuable website that I’ve found to date.

    p.s. I purchased your seo product and it’s been amazing to see the professionalism that you put into everything, thanks for a great experience!

  54. Good points, these days designers are a dime a dozen. It pays to really sift through and find the good ones, even if they cost a little (or even a lot) more in the end.

  55. Neil just Nailed it ! ; )
    Its a litte bit hard in our country to find a great designer for long term cooperation, but im in good hope ;) This article show me couple of thoughts that i needed. Thanks for a lot of relevant information

    • Majk, glad I could provide some insights. You are definitely in a prime position as there are always more and more resources available . Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions :)

  56. Good article and it is in print what i tried to tell my now former employer for years! I have to send them this article.

    Event though it was internal work we weren’t given enough time to design and always having to rebuild everything time after time. It didn’t only took so much more time, it clogged up our developers on developing new stuff instead of creating new stuff.

    Nice one, cheers!

    • Gustaf, that’s why creating a compelling design to begin with is essential. At the very least people should design with the intent of iterating and updating their designs in the future. Thanks for sharing your experience, I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  57. A great design is definitely worth it. It’s kind of like the old saying. You get what you pay for. If you skimp on design, your going to skimp on your return. And no one wants skimpy returns! lol.

  58. Hi Neil, i needed some guidance because I have outsourced my website work thrice in the past but the results have been poor.

    In July I held an “amateur” powerlifting event in New Delhi, India because I was bored of going back to the gym to do the same damn routine. I wanted competition to motivate me but unlike the US where you can pay 20 bucks and compete, here there were no competitions for “amateurs” (guys aged 18-35 who work 9-5 and go to the gym). So I decided to create one. I enrolled 12 gyms, booked an international venue (Nehru Stadium where the common wealth games were held) and made it happen. I knew this event was not going to be profitable! Infact I ended up losing 78,000 rupees (1231 dollars) but I was trying to prove one hypothesis – that there is interest. If each participant (there were 34 who paid $15 or $23 based on how many lifts they competed in) left the event saying “wow that was a remarkable experience… I want to do that again” then the event was successful for me. As it turned out it went better than I expected! Most of them came up to me and said “I want to bring my friends along for the next one, when is it?”. Making that idea in my head real on the ground took 3 months but was amazing..i loved every bit of it, even the bits which were frustrating.

    All along I was thinking long-term though. I wanted to create India’s biggest amateur powerlifting event so I invested in hiring a DJ, two video cameras to record everything and a professional photographer to snap the participants photos. My online home became Facebook because all my participants were on it -> facebook.com/theironsport and because I wanted to keep it small and simple. Infact the day after the event, when the photos started going up they reached 2158 people and my number of LIKES have doubled since from 49 to 106. I still have not released any of the video footage.

    For my 2nd event which I plan to do in Feb I want to get 1000 guys to compete. Yes its a hell of a jump from 34! However my wants do not matter much. What matters is:-
    1) Are enough guys willing to pay 2000 – 5000 rupees ($31 – $79) to participate?
    2) Will they pay online in advance so that I can gauge interest before diving deep into it?

    My hypothesis is that there are more than 1000 who will line up but I need to either prove or disprove that for which I need a damn good website.

    After thinking I have come up with a concept that relies on game mechanics, social proof and partnerships to spread word of mouth. The concept is all based around “The Iron Man” (the website is called theironsport.com) but its sketched out by me on paper. I need a good designer to help me make it come to life. I also need someone who can “think” about conversion not just be a “yes man” which unfortunately almost everyone I have encountered has been.

    I’m doing what I love. I love the process of creating and jumping over hurdles. I want to make this sustainable because profit is like oxygen, you can’t breath long without it. Where should I start? Is dribbble my best bet?

    That was a loooong comment. Thank you for reading it!

    • Harsh, thanks for the comment. I love long comments because it means we are creating a great dialogue with lots of information. I think what you are doing is great. You found your passion and you are doing everything you can to make your idea a success. I think you got it right. You should definitely invest in a great design and have someone who can track conversions and test your site (when the time comes). You definitely need to get a lot more qualified traffic before you jump into any long term a/b conversion testing. With that being said I would suggest you do some profiling to see who your ideal user would be. Without testing that out you may be marketing to the wrong demographic. Doing everything right the first time will ensure you don’t have to go back and fix the problems that you could have solved early on.

      Plus it will answer some of your questions like, “can 2000 people afford this”. You can use Qualaroo to gather this data or Survey Monkey.

      • Thanks Neil. A feedback on the comment system. When you respond to my messages it does not notify me via email so I have to come back to the blog to see if you responded. It would be great to have a copy of your responses on email.

  59. Dear Neil,

    If you use free themes wordpress, joomla, Did you think it save my money, time design and good for SEO?

    Thank you for content :)

    • Khiem, as I mentioned in this post if you have the opportunity to find a unique interactive design then you should do that. Standard templates often don’t convert that well because they aren’t unique and wont catch the eye of a random person browsing the web.

  60. Design is definitely important for conversion, but I have seen some pretty horrible designs convert very well too. I think much of it depends on your industry. For different industries, consumers expect different things.

    • Darren, you bring up a great point. I think it is essential to know what designs convert best. It’s all about having an idea of who you are marketing to before you get into any design process. Thanks for the great feedback!

  61. Truly Worth reading information ..Thanks!

  62. Great post Neil. This question is for you or anyone else on the thread. Do have any recommendations for a good designer similar to Digital Telepathy (UX/Design) that works exclusively on WordPress themes?

    Also, I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on crowdsourced design sites like 99designs, CrowdSpring, DesignCrowd, etc… Any experiences?

  63. Sounds good Neil. Thanks.

  64. Amazing work Neil
    Many thanks :)

  65. Hey Neil!

    Great post, I started following you after I heard you on Pat Flynn’s podcast. And I love the content. As a beginner in web development, I am constantly learning from these posts. You are the man. My takeaway for today is to start paying attention to conversion rate and to research more about conversion rate optimization.

    - John

  66. I need help finding a designer who knows Analytics and has experience in e-commerce. Granted I’m in Arkansas and the field might be more narrow here, but it seems that the designers I’m running into are more for the art of it, not the conversion of it. All fine and well but I need some help! (that is anyone’s cue with ecommerce experience to hit me up)

  67. Nice article Neil. I wanted to email this article to my boss but didn’t find any option available. You should add an Email Article Button in your page.

  68. This was a really great article Truly Worth reading information

    International Flower Delivery In India

  69. I agree- great designs do convert better!!

    I manage our affiliate program and when i took over instead of just sending a request to the design team i held a meeting and communicated my ideas for all the creative materials i need to run several different campaigns. we worked together to create the best possible marketing real state and it payed off! the new banners that were launched quickly turned into our top converting banners :) all the time and hard work payed off

    -sofia

  70. Link exchange is nothing else except it is simply placing
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  71. My brother suggested I might like this website. He used to be entirely
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