Fifteen years ago if a business wanted a nice-looking website, they would have to hire a web design agency to make it for them. While that is still a great option, there are countless services available now that do a lot of the hard work for you. However, these services leave a lot to be desired in terms of the function and design. This goes beyond websites as well. There are services for automatically making logos, flyers, and many other designed pieces, but what happens when the template provided is filled with a real business’ information? It often comes out looking much more lackluster than anticipated. You’ll get much more satisfying results when you hire a graphic design professional.
The Right Content
To achieve a great appearance these automated website and design services use a very minimal amount of information, and pair it with beautiful photography. This will achieve a clean look, but from my experience most small businesses don’t have amazing professional photography. When these are replaced with a standard snapshot of the business it results in a much less professional appearance, and any text that might be placed over the image could easily become illegible. Speaking of text, these premade designs include sample text to show off how the design will look, but unless the length of the text happens to match up perfectly, it will result in a much more sloppy look than desired. These are all things that a graphic designer considers and avoids when designing a piece. If there are two columns of text next to each other and one happens to be twice as long, there is probably a better solution for that. When working with a predesigned template, there is no option for a better solution. The information provided must fit within the confines of the design, and there may not be an appropriate design that will accomodate the given content.
Crafting The Aesthetic
Having a well-crafted aesthetic can be huge for a business. Imagine Nike without their swoosh. They use this on nearly everything and it has become a way to immediately recognize their company. If they were to have picked a stock logo or one through an online creator, it most likely would have blended into the sea of designs that all look the same. This is because automated and stock designs are meant to appeal to as many people as possible, and the only way to do that is to purposely avoid an overly unique look. As a designer, this seems like the very last thing a company should do. A business’ logo and brand identity are usually the things that are first perceived. If it is unique it will be much more memorable, which is the whole purpose of a brand. When using templates, there is nothing to separate it from the countless others using the same or similar templates.
Avoiding a Generic Look
Think about all the generic foods in the grocery store. Most of the packaging is ugly, bland, and instantly associated with being cheap. With the availability of pre-designed templates for everything, the standard for graphic design is only going to increase. A pre-designed packaging template may currently look better than a generic product, but as more and more companies start to use these services it will start to make these templates be generic themselves. It will also be hard to find unified templates for various materials. Let’s say a new startup uses an automated logo maker and is given a logo with four different colored circles; when it is time to choose their business card, they find something that has three multi-colored circles in the design. This could work, and will fit the circle theme, but the number of circles doesn’t match the logo. It could easily be ignored, but then comes the need for a package design, and there’s nothing that seems to match the logo and business card. The more things that are created from templates, the harder it is going to be to make them unified.
While I do see some value in using design templates, there is no instance where it would yield better results than going with a graphic designer. Whether it’s due to the stresses of making the theme work with the content, the lack of originality, or finding matching templates for various projects, there are numerous factors that come into play that can all be solved by hiring a graphic designer.