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