Tips for Graphic Design Students (and Anyone Online…)

Last month I received an email from a graphic design student with some really great questions. 

He specifically mentioned a quote of mine from Behind the Brand e021

"I encourage people not to put, "Hi, my name is Cory, I'm a designer," on their website. Everyone is a designer. Don't put that on your website." 

He mentioned that that caught him off guard, because he was going to do just that!

But his primary question I want to get to was:

“How should I welcome my readers if I don't have that promise to make about what specifics I am going to do for the people who visit?”

There are a few things to remember when designing your brand website, specifically when it comes to your introduction.

Your Website Is Not About You

First, you need to remember that your website is not for you. I know, this might seem weird, but it’s true. 

Your website is all about the people you are trying to attract. Your website is about your audience and your customers.

The problem with saying, “Hi, my name is [Insert Name Here], and I’m a designer” is that nobody cares yet. 

I regularly go to websites where I don’t care about the tiny bio at the top because they haven’t given me a reason to care yet.

If you want me to hire you, you need to show me how you're going to solve my problem. If you want me to care about your product, you need to quickly explain in a few words how you are going to make my life better. Put it front and center.

The exception to this “rule” is if you deliver a promise within your introduction. 

My good friend and co-host Kyle Adams is a great example of this on his website. Instead of “Hi, I’m Kyle Adams. I’m a designer”, he has a big header that says: “Quality Icons That Speak Volumes”. 

Immediately I have an idea of what I can get from Kyle. This main header is followed by, “I'm Kyle Adams, an icon designer with a passion to help brands communicate to their audience.”

Much more power there than “I’m a designer.”

Give value quickly. People get bored.

If you don’t have any kind of promise, then get your content front and center. You need to start building trust immediately. If all you have is a blog, make that content right there so they can get value immediately. Always provide value first.

I’m not kidding when I say this:

If your website takes longer than 5 or 6 seconds to understand, you’re losing leads and you’re losing sales.

Your website needs clarity, not fancy or trendy words that nobody but you understands. People will get bored and move on.

If I go to your website and it says, “Hi, this is me, me me me, I’m me! Hire me!” I’m going to close the tab. Immediately. 

Speak to the problems and stories of your customers in the first few seconds, which will invite them into the rest of what you have to offer. 

Be honest and transparent about where you’re at. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver, and don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be yourself, and grow as you grow.

  • Determine the purpose of your website. Is it to attract clients? Is it to deliver valuable content to people who want to learn how you do what you do? What is the point?

  • Develop a personal promise that you want to deliver through your site and your work.

  • Think about what you want your audience to see first and make that the front and center of your home page.

  • Don’t just say, “I’m a designer”. Find a niche. Explore in deep. Literally anyone can say, “I’m a designer”, so don’t blend in!