Tag: Start-Up

01 Mar 2019
5 Basics Everyone Needs to Create a Website

5 Website Basics Everyone Needs

Website basics, if you know these it’ll make your life easier! If you are thinking of creating a website yourself or wondering what basic items designers will use to create a website for you, this is for you. There are 5 main items that every website needs to have in order to be a true marketing asset. Whether you work with a design firm, a freelancer, or you create these aspects yourself, you will want to make sure this checklist is covered before you launch your new website. While this isn’t a comprehensive list (different websites might have additional things they need) this covers the basics everyone needs.

Goals. What is the goal of the website, your company, sales, etc. You don’t have to have a ton of goals (I do, but I’m an overachiever), but you should have at least a couple. Know what you are trying to achieve with the website and how it applies and helps your business and it’s goals. Is it sharing your story? Attracting tons of traffic? Selling lots of widgets? Answering peoples questions? Providing services? Setting the goals will help you get the right website made, even if it’s just you doing it.

Brand and Content. You need a brand, even if it’s just a color, a font, and a logo. Most graphic designers would cringe hearing this, but with my design background I also understand entrepreneurs and the start-up process. Now that you have a brand (or the start of one) you’ll also need your written content!

Product, Service, or Both. It doesn’t matter what combination you have here, you need to know what you are are providing to your visitors. It doesn’t have to be paid, it could be free, but what is your product or service? What does it do, how does it help the visitor? Make sure these things are at least loosely defined before creating a website. If you end up adjusting and editing during the process, don’t worry that happens. Should it happen, just make sure you know the basics of what you are providing to your visitors. Being clear about you are offering, be it products or services. The choice can determine if you need an ecommerce website or not. Knowing this is very important as the complexity can change quite a bit when you add ecommerce to your website.

Target Market. Who’s this site for? Tall people, short people, sick people healthy people? This matters because it will help define the content and also tells you about how the content should be made, the type of content, where you’ll want to get your website listed, etc. A good place to start if you don’t have a target already is to define one. I suggest starting with a niche, which I talked about in Defining Your Niche – Why it Matters

Budget and Timeline. So, even if you are doing this yourself, you need a budget and a timeline. We’ve talked about these before in 3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline and Time, Budgets & Luxury Any project without a timeline is a project destined to never get done, or at least not this year. Budget zero? Well, it’ll be really hard to get a website up, but there are some places you can create a free site. These options will make it super apparent that you are using the free one because you don’t have a domain and their company branding is all over your website. Because of this it can be a good start, but you’ll want to move on quickly. Budget and timeline become even more important when working with professionals. The benefit is they will help you determine what kind of help you can get and in what time-frame.

If you have these five basics planned when you start creating your website you will be setting yourself up for success. I like success and I’m sure you do to, so make sure to spend the time putting some basic info together for each of these. Even if you are just wanting a quote, any designer giving you a good quote will need these items and possibly a few more details specific to your site in order to publish it completely. 

23 Feb 2019
3 Steps to Grow Your Brand Peterman Design Firm Blog

3 Steps to Grow Your Brand

So, you’ve got your brand. It’s beautiful, you love it, it resonates with your customers, and most of the time, your designer has walked away. Now you want to build your brand from just the core that it is now and get it out there. Some people will tell you that “building your brand” isn’t necessary, mostly people who want to sell you advertising. Others will tell you that your brand needs to grow your brand and build a presence with it, mostly people who do branding or social media work. I personally believe both are needed, it isn’t just about advertising to build your brand and there’s more to it than just designing a cool brand. So let’s discuss a couple ways to grow your brand and why they are beneficial.

Create Content – Number one most important thing is to create content and not just any content, some combination of useful and entertaining content. You can do this a number of ways, from blogging to posting on social media, to podcasts, and more. Just find the right places that you enjoy sharing your content and start getting it out there. I’d recommend that if you do hire this out you have a very comprehensive conversation with whoever is doing it to make sure the “voice” they use matches or is close to your own and matches your company brand. Content is great because it can be what you give away for free, attracts new and interested customers, and keeps you relevant, as well as being great for SEO when used properly.

Engage – Just posting on your Facebook page doesn’t cut it any more, in fact I don’t think it ever did, people just somehow got it in there head that posting on social media means people will magically see what they post. You need to get your brand out there, interact with current, future, and past customers. Engage on forums, different social media platforms, answering questions, putting out valuable and relatable content that your customers are interested in. None of this is to sell, just to provide value and get your name out there. This will get you found by people you might never reach with advertising and shows that you are actually interested in what you do, not just there to make money.

Build Referrals & Partnerships – You can do this through your customer base and through networking with other people and companies to build your own referral network. Building partnerships is also a great way to get your brand to grow. Finding an established company who’s willing to partner with you can give your own brand a lot of strength as people will see you with a known brand. Keep in mind when you do this that you are only attaching your name to companies whose brand aligns with yours and who you know won’t damage your brand. This is a long term reward process and you may not see this paying out for a couple years, but I know several companies who started super small and because they invested heavily in referrals and partnerships now do basically no marketing or advertising because they have a constant stream of business from their customer referrals and other partnerships. This also gets your brand out there through real people, which often carries more weight than other ways.

If you follow these three steps to building your brand you’ll find your brand growing as quickly as you want it to. A brand is important and it’s just as important that you grow it after you have it.

15 Feb 2019
Product to Market No Money or Experience

How to Get a Product to Market Without Money or Experience?

The answer is time, a lot of time. There are three resources to any project. Money, Experience (Skills), and Time. At least one of these has to exist in a large quantity to overcome a lacking by any of the other two. The most successful products have at least 2 of these in a good amount, but there are also plenty of products that are created using only one resource to start.
 
So what do you do if you don’t have money or experience, but you are willing to take the time to create your product? Well, here’s the formula.
 
First, you’ll need skills and experience. This can either come from a co-founder or by you learning those skills yourself. You might ask, “why don’t you just go get funding first and spend time on that”? Well, it’s because almost no one buys, invests, or steals just ideas. They aren’t valuable enough. You have to create value before someone will invest capital. The best way to do that is to create a working prototype of your product, whether that’s an app, a mechanical product, or an electronics design. To do that, you need the skills and experience to create that prototype, a co-founder/partner who has the skills, or the money to pay someone else to do it. Finding a co-founder that’s willing to jump in at the very beginning is like finding a needle in a haystack. Possible, and we all cheer for the one who does it, but most people don’t find the perfect person to help them right at the beginning.
 
Getting a prototype that would be convincing enough to get funding has, in my experience, cost anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $50,000 on average. Plus you might want to get a patent in there too. If you don’t have that kind of budget, then you’ll need to build your own prototype, which will still cost some money, and create a proof of concept.
 
Once you have that prototype, which could take you years instead of months to create by yourself, then you’ll be ready to start spending your time getting investments to move the product forward. There is no way to bring a product to market without cash from somewhere, even if you have a great idea. That money will go to marketing, sales, and production. While you could try to get a larger company to pick up your idea, keep in mind that they have teams of people coming up with ideas with huge R&D budgets.
 
If you want success, your best bet is to create a prototype, get funding, and launch a company. It’s much easier to sell a successful product and company than to get someone to buy a product that has no proven market. Not that it can’t happen, because it definitely does, but the chance of success is not as high. Some people will tell you that luck is a part of this, I’d disagree. Be persistent and enjoy the journey. Even if it takes years of working on it as you have time and money to do so, stick with it. Your idea is important as long as you enjoy it. Happy inventing! 

22 Nov 2017

3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline

Timelines. We all need them, but even the best of us don’t get them right every time. How do we create realistic timelines that don’t sound outrageous? Well, it all depends on who is looking at them. Experienced designers can usually look at a project and have a pretty good idea on how long a project might take to design with barely any thought and be right. For a non-designer to make that same estimate is nearly impossible, I’ve trained sales people on how to sell Industrial Design, and it took a lot of training to get someone unfamiliar with this process to be able to accurately quote a timeframe for a project.
There is no magic formula that lets anyone estimate a project as well as a seasoned designer, I’ve looked. And almost any schedule is possible, if you have the funds to pay for it. There are a few things that you should always make sure are known before discussing a timeline. If a designer gives you a timeline and is missing one of these elements, then their estimate will probably be off.

  • Fully Defined Scope of Work. We’ve gone over this previously here, but it really is very important that before you get a timeline from a designer, or before you begin to create your own, you know exactly everything that is going to go into and come out of the project.
  • Response Time from You, the Client. Any good designer can estimate how long they will take to respond, but did they specify how quickly they expect a response from you? When they wrote the timeline, they might have assumed you would be responding within two days, but maybe you have such a busy schedule that it will take at least a week or more before you can review a design that was sent to you. This expectation is very important, and can derail a timeline quickly.
  • Project Hours. This is how long the designer says they are going to take to make the project happen. This gives you the number of hours that will be worked, but not over what duration. This number is also something that unless you have design experience that matches the designer you are hiring, is not a point that is very arguable.

If you and your designer have these three items, then a viable timeline can be created by the designer. It’s always good to give them your gut feeling on this, we prefer our clients give us an idea of what they think it should take. Remember, everything is negotiable as long as you only choose two of the iron triangle to be fixed. Time, Quality, and Cost make up the iron triangle. You can have a fast and high-quality project, but the cost will not be controllable. So, choose wisely which two you care about the most.
Our experience with delays is that a lot of time is lost in getting responses from clients on a revision. While a project may have started out with a one week response time for each revision, when that gets pushed to one and a half weeks, and there are a total of 10 revision points through different phases of a project, that’s an extra 5 weeks on a project that should have only taken say 15 weeks to complete, which makes for a 30% increase in your timeline. No one likes that kind of increase.

27 Oct 2017

3 Things You Need Before Hiring a Designer

I’ve been working with clients for over a decade, and I’ve found that there are three things I’m always asking for. Every Industrial Designer would love you to have ready for them before talking to them about your project.
1. Have a budget. I know, a lot of people new to product design don’t know what a reasonable budget is, and I get a lot of potential clients asking ‘how much does this cost’? Well, there is no simple answer. The amount of money you put in is directly associated with what you get out of it, to a certain point. I can spend 30 hours and get a quick product design done, I’ve done it, and a lot of other designers have too, or I can spend 120 hours and have an amazing design solution that everyone loves. If I asked a room of people, many would go for the cheapest design possible, but is that what you really want? The average product design, start to finish, is an 80-200 hour process depending on the product. And no, that doesn’t include vehicle sized products. Average hourly rates range from $80-$250 an hour depending on how much experience the designer has, the industry, and if it’s an agency. Keep in mind, top agencies run more around $500-$1000 an hour. As a design firm, we like to work on a by project rate as it keeps things simple and up front for our clients. An average project is about $10,000 for a full design, concept to manufacturing packet. So be upfront about what you expect in price, and timeline. If it’s unreasonable, we’ll tell you.
2. Know your why. So, you have a great product idea, or even redesigning a product. But why? Why are you creating this product, what problem does it solve, how does it help people? If your first answer is ‘because I’d use it’, then we should do some market research to make sure . Working with start-ups and entrepreneurs a lot, I’ve come across some amazing ideas that almost no one would use. Knowing your why helps us to tell your story through the product. People get behind products that have a great story and makes their life easier.
3. Know your market. We’ll do some market research at the start of the project, unless you come to a designer with a full market strategy, SWOT analysis, and information on the competitions products. But whether we do it or you do it, you should at least have a basic understanding of who you are marketing the product to. It guides us if we do the research, and it helps us with the design of the product. You might have an awesome product idea, but maybe it works for two very different markets, like babies and seniors! (look at diapers, both age groups use it, but the product is designed very differently for each market) Knowing who we are designing for, their budget, lifestyle, and age to name a few metrics, helps us create a product they will use, and you can sell successfully.
 
Some of you might notice that I didn’t say have an idea anywhere in there. While most people think that they need to have a product idea already before they talk to a designer, that isn’t the case with great designers. When looking at a product idea, what we really look at is the problem it is solving. We design to solve the problem, fixing a pain point in someone’s life. Maybe that pain point is not hearing the best audio possible, or maybe it’s not wanting to cobble together your own product, or maybe it’s a problem you see frequently for people you interact with. Industrial Design is about solving problems, and we’re happy to work with you whether you have a product idea, or just want to solve a problem but don’t have any idea how to.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.