I’ve recently been on a bit of a diet. I say a bit of a diet because nobody is ever going to stop me eating chocolate and as I love to cook, I love to eat.

But with my holidays approaching (hooray, we are visiting the sun in April), I am horribly aware that my tummy won’t look great hanging over the top of my bikini bottoms. I’ve spent far too much time making said tummy bounce and sway and avoiding those mirrors at the gym as they are clearly made to make you look fatter than you are… honest! It seemed like a bit of an impossible task to be honest and I was contemplating a horrible uphill struggle without the support of chocolate. I was getting myself ready to buy a one piece swimsuit and forget the whole thing. In the end I decided that if I tried to change too much I would give up quickly so cue ‘a bit’ of a diet to see how it went. Surely I’d feel better anyway?!

snappy design

I haven’t changed much, I’m just eating less bread and pasta and more leafy things but so far so good and I think my mummy tummy may be on the way to being bikini safe (well enough to stop me worrying about it anyway).

By now, I’m sure you are confused and thinking ‘what has this got to do with designing brilliant marketing for my business?’

Small tweaks can make BIG changes

Well, I am working on a new website and branding for one of my clients and came up with a few preliminary ideas. They did not go down well. I’d missed the mark.

At this point, I needed as much feedback as possible as to what is wrong with the designs. Not that my client needs to prove anything but because it is just as helpful to know how they are wrong than how they are right. This is actually harder than you might think. Often the client doesn’t know why they are wrong, they just are. So follows tweaks and revisions to pinpoint exactly what is working and what isn’t.

Surprisingly (to clients anyway) it can be something quite small that is throwing the whole design out. Tweak that and it can all fall into place.

Design is often a process of elimination and a bit of a journey. Just as marketing requires testing and rewriting and retargeting and updating so do designs.

So the next time you put together a design for a Facebook ad visual, or a social media header or your sales page and it just isn’t working, don’t be tempted to throw it out of the window, bang your head on the desk or announce that you have as much creativity as a carrot.

Try following this process of design to avoid creativity panic and make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear:

7 steps to turn bad marketing design into great marketing design

1. Print it off and stick it to your wall! Even if it will only ever be seen on screen. There is something about isolating artwork and putting it up that brings out everything that’s wrong with it. I do this with all my designs and it often provokes small changes that make big differences. Stand back and look at it. Go away and come back to it later.

2. Don’t spend hours moving bits around on the screen, changing fonts or pics. This is a sure fire way of wasting time and making you more frustrated.

3. Jot down a quick list of all the elements that look c**p.
Eg:  Wrong font.
All the writing is crammed into one corner.
The title is hard to read.

4. Jot down a quick list of how these elements can look better:
Eg:  A plainer font
Reduce the text amount
Make the title shorter and bolder
Make the title stand out more – different colour?

5. Change whatever you can away from the design itself. Shorten your text, choose a plainer font, match your colours.

6. Finally, bring all your elements back together.

7. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Don’t despair, each revision is a learning experience on the design journey and will get you closer to something that works. And for those perfectionists out there, it may work today but it might miss the mark tomorrow. Redesign isn’t a failure but a part of the same journey.

photo credit: world naked bike ride face of Kring via photopin (license)