Investment in good design is money well spent. Studies have shown that engaging, thoughtful designs drive a clear return on investment by increasing customer engagement and bolstering trust.

Despite this, many small and medium-sized businesses are still unsure about how to use visual designs. They often believe that the cost of images, animations, and layouts will be prohibitive. Alternatively, some companies are simply unaware of the already-existing opportunities for leveraging compelling content.

In this post, we’re going to look at five ways that you can use beautiful designs in your business without a million-dollar budget for your creative team.

1.  Social media content

There is high demand for visual content among users of many of the web’s top social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. If you’re leveraging these platforms to drive leads to your business, then visually-compelling, interesting designs and graphics can help you connect with potential customers while maintaining engagement with existing ones.

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer or video producer if you want to take advantage of well-designed social media content, either. You can use a range of intuitive, inexpensive tools, from video slideshow generators to quote templates, to repackage existing creative assets and create material for future posts.

Even better, you can leverage native advertising platforms to test and evaluate various designs. In this way, you’ll gauge which content types connect most effectively with your customer base and can use this information to shape your strategy moving forward.

2.  eCards

When was the last time you sent an eCard to one of your clients? If the answer to that question is “never”, then you’re almost certainly missing out on a valuable opportunity to build trust and engagement.

Digital cards are a cost-effective and creative way of making your customers feel valued. They also present an opportunity to use entertaining and quirky designs that are likely to elicit a positive emotional response.

Birthdays are excellent for sending personalized digital cards to customers, so collect this information during the sign-up process if possible. Other major holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and so on, are all good times.

Keep in mind that sending digital cards to customers via email is a relatively low-cost activity and the long-term benefits in regards to loyalty and engagement can be significant. What’s more, digital cards provide a space for you to express the more light-hearted side of your business in a way that probably won’t be appropriate elsewhere.

3.  Websites

Your website is the hub of your online presence. Its design, layout, and graphical elements will form your company’s first impression for many leads, so it’s essential that it looks professional and enticing.

Small and medium businesses, in particular, are prone to making common mistakes with their websites, including cluttered pages, low-quality logos, and a confusing flow of information.

The one-off cost of hiring a professional web designer is usually within a small company’s budget. What’s more, a well-thought-out design and clear layout that communicates your brand message is an invaluable asset. It’s also possible to purchase inexpensive themes on popular platforms like WordPress and Wix, which are easy to customize without any technical experience.

4.  Fonts

One way of inexpensively boosting the design quality of customer touchpoints, including your website, advertising materials, social media images, and more, is by using professionally-made fonts. An on-brand font can instantly lift an otherwise boring and dull design.

You can usually purchase commercial rights for fonts for a few dollars. And many, such as those available through Google Fonts, are completely open-source and free to use. Other services, like Adobe Fonts and its associated package of tools for websites called Typekit, are available for a small monthly subscription fee.

5.  Email templates

Many small businesses maintain an email list and regularly send out newsletters, updates and promotional content to their customers. Often, however, the individuals responsible for sending out email broadcasts don’t use a unique design and layout, instead opting for an unembellished, black-and-white text.

But emails present a superb opportunity for using high-quality designs to engage with subscribers. Most mailing services, like MailChimp and Aweber, offer a wide selection of in-house templates. And building your own rich media emails and testing alternatives is usually a straightforward process, even for those without any technical or graphic design expertise.


Many small and medium-sized business owners and managers recognize that beautiful designs and visual content generate a positive return on investment. At the same time, however, these same people worry about potential costs and navigating a largely-unknown field that they feel requires dedicated expertise and training.

If you can relate to this scenario, don’t worry. The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need large amounts of capital or in-house skills to take advantage of good design. A myriad of inexpensive (and sometimes free) tools, templates, and creative assets are available to individuals and businesses that are operating on a budget.

What’s more, there are many opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes to add creative and compelling designs to their existing business materials and customer-facing processes, from eCards to emails to web layouts and beyond.

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