In brief, I’m a designer, turned design agency founder, born and raised in Kent.
Accidently! Prior to starting my own business, I worked at an agency for 8 years, before getting made redundant. Unable to find another job, similar to my previous role, I decided to strike out on my own.
Thankfully I had a few freelance clients to help get my business up and running and things have grown from there.
I had a varied past; roles varied from trolley boy at Tesco to a customer service agent at TN Sofres and then a database manager before finally settling on becoming a web designer, which is where my career currently stands.
I gained a lot of experience in these roles and they have really helped me in my transition from a background as a designer to having to be client facing, making sales and managing accounts for my own business where I was the ‘go to’ man.
We are a specialist web design and development company. As a small company we focus on our core skills of designing and developing websites that add real value to our clients’ businesses. SEO, business cards, photography etc. is where our main projects lie. However, any other client requests we pass out to preferred partners, who are also specialists in their respective areas.
That depends largely on their business and business goals. It could be an eCommerce website or a site to promote a company’s skills, however, setting a roadmap is the key to understanding how best to utilise.
It is always important to set aside money for promotions otherwise you end up with an empty shop that no one is aware of. A good SEO and/or PR company is vital, especially in the early years of development and growth.
Always consider substance over style, but you shouldn’t have to compromise. Good design always works alongside content and it should never be the other way around.
One of the biggest miscomprehensions is that design is the ‘look and feel’. Design exists to solve problems and to do this we must examine every element including content, imagery, branding and typography. A design is always limited by its weakest link.
The way to achieve the best results is to research and converse with an experienced, reputable design agency. We give our clients a lot of homework to do to ensure we know the problem we are being hired to do, and then we work out how it will be solved.
Often we will separate the brief into stages. This has the benefit of allowing us to look at the data before deciding where to move to next. It may well be that the end goal is to sell online, but our early attention needs to be best served getting the branding and message right before moving on.
The important thing is that every client is different and there is no ‘out of the box’ solution.
Data and research and in particular having the experience to know how to act on these. Critical thinking skills are a massive help and having the ability to question the decisions you are making will ensure you are always keeping the end goal in mind.
Responsive design is key. One of our biggest challenges is creating an engaging experience no matter the device being used to view it. It is what separates digital design from more traditional print design - we never know the size of our canvas!
Designers need to put the user first and understand that it isn’t just about pretty pictures! The most overlooked part of the website is the content and finding the right voice for the brand, a voice that will engage and speak to the potential customers in a tone they respond to, is essential to achieving success through a website.
Photography is the next big component, please don’t use stock photography as it doesn’t work and is akin to selling with a mask on. Professional photography should always be sought or a custom illustration commissioned. The important part is to show yourself, it elicits trust and helps a design to deliver on the goals it has been set.
Kris Jeary is founder and director of Squiders, a specialist, independent web design studio dedicated to creating bespoke and tailored solutions to digital problems.