The small business landscape is changing fast, affecting the way small businesses work and the ways that they use graphic design to increase their revenues. Here are five trends we expect in 2017.
1. Small businesses will spend more on design than ever before.
Graphic Design is now, more than ever, as much of a start up necessity as equipment and incorporation fees. Small businesses who invest in professional, results-focused, graphic design can expect to see themselves overtaking their competition, and their competition will take notice. We're seeing more and more small and micro businesses budgeting for design and marketing in tandem, including location based businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops. We expect this to continue throughout 2017, and anticipate increased investment in design for the foreseeable future.
2. Less DIY websites for small businesses, more for freelancers.
With the importance of strong SEO and a cohesive visual identity becoming well known among savvy small business owners, both of which are difficult to achieve without professional help, we expect to see less use of DIY web design platforms amongst small businesses, leaving DIY website makers to sole proprietors and freelancers who don't have the budget for a professional site. In addition, costs for small business websites are dropping, with modern designers becoming familiar with professional WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tools, such as Adobe Muse, which allow the designer to do the entire job, without a developer.
3. Tailored design services.
Very few small businesses have the budget for a large design agency, and freelancers can be flaky. Because of this, we're seeing an uptick in small design firms offering industry-specific design services; where designers become familiar with various facets of their target industry's needs and provide design packages based around them. Pre-preparing industry standard assets saves the designer time and allows more competitive pricing. For these reasons, we expect to see much more of this in the coming year.
4. The year of the retainer.
With an increased understanding of the importance of design and visual identity among small business owners, small business owners are flocking towards firms offering monthly design retainers, which keep expenditure steady and predictable throughout the year. Designers are already abandoning hourly rates in favor of fixed project fees, and we expect to see retainer arrangements becoming more prevalent.
5. Visual identities becoming more cohesive.
With design costs becoming more predictable, and an increase in the use of design retainers, we expect to see more businesses boasting a visual identity that is cohesive throughout their on-and-offline media. Gone are the days where we'll see a company with an immaculate website, but an amateur, off-brand brochure and twitter cover.