April 6, 2022
Within the design community, we’ve heard a lot of designers complain about Canva and other DIY design tools and how they’re ruining the industry — but that’s not the entire truth.
DIY design is looked down on in the design community because sometimes it can devalue our work, training, and the skills we’ve spent countless hours honing. The other times? It’s a valuable tool in your business ownership belt.
We know, we know. A brand design studio positively talking about DIY? Wild! But there’s a clear difference between knowing basic design principles and executing on DIY design when you need it… and knowing when to hand it over to a pro.
DIY design isn’t all bad. There’s room for DIYers and pros alike at the business table. It’s all about knowing which one is right for you right now.
DIY design is kind of like DIY home projects. Your home provides shelter but it is always going to need maintenance. As the owner, it’s your responsibility to take care of it and know the basics of how your home works.
If you have a leak under the kitchen sink, you’d inspect the pipes, grab a wrench, tighten up anything that’s come loose, or maybe even get some plumbing tape to reinforce the threads around your screws and pipes. Beyond that? Yup — it’s time to bring in a pro.
We see plenty of small business owners separate themselves from the day-to-day operations of their company. We’re all told to “stay in our lane” and “focus on our zone of genius,” and design might not be in your lane or your zone of genius. While this can help you focus on other tasks in the business, it can be a huge problem. That’s because, when you hand off an entire facet of your business to another person, it relies on that person alone to get it done.
What if someone is out sick? What if your contract ends with the person you’ve outsourced design to? Who’s going to do the work in the meantime?
When you own a small business (we’re not talking about larger ones with a hoard of full-time employees, because that’s a much different story), things are constantly changing. It’s crucial to be in the loop and know the basics of how your business runs. Because yes, at some point, you’re going to have to step in and save the day. It’s just the nature of the small business beast.
This is why we’re also big fans of SOPs (standard operating procedures). We know business owners have to wear many hats, but we’re also not telling you to be a design pro, marketing pro, visionary, and project manager all wrapped up into one human being. But you should know the basic principles and strategy behind your design, your marketing, the software you use to manage your projects, and the flow of how it all gets done.
In business, there will always be a time when things move fast and you need to do something on your own to get things done. That’s just part of the entrepreneurial journey — even if you have a pro on standby. Nobody knows your business better than you, and because this thing is YOUR responsibility, sometimes you gotta fall back on your own skills to make sure things happen.
Let’s paint a picture for you: You’re in the middle of a launch and want to see if that one idea that woke you up on a Friday night will convert a few more sales in the morning. Your contractor isn’t available (or has great boundaries). You want to hop on Instagram before your scheduled live to offer a freebie, then need to deliver it ASAP.
Or how about when a tragedy hits and you want to donate a portion of your sales from the weekend to relief efforts? You’ll need a quick graphic to announce this on your social and shop site.
Both of these scenarios (and a billion more) happen all the time! Launch planning is critical and, while changing the plan can be bad in some cases, sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles — and some last-minute ideas are good ones! It’s your responsibility as the business owner to make sure it gets done. A contractor won’t always be available on a whim, but DIY design skills will always be there for you.
One thing we love here at The Design Lab is working with business owners who know their limits. They know how hard it can be to make a seemingly simple decision — what font to use here, what stock photo to use there — and ultimately, they trust the designer more because they realize how much skill it takes to make the design work.
The more you become acquainted with design, the more familiar you are with “design speak” and can understand WTF your designer is actually saying. You’ll have more time to get down to the nitty-gritty because you’re not going on your 500th Google search to figure out what they mean by “white space is a good thing.” Or smiling and nodding in your meeting pretending you know what they’re talking about. (P.S. You should always ask your designer if you don’t understand something!)
As with anything in business (and life), you have to know when to ask for help. If you’re struggling to bring your best ideas to life, it’s either time to find better DIY design resources (like the ones in our shop) or it’s time to work with a pro.
But DIY design and professional design can co-exist!
DIY design is an important part of helping your business run smoothly, especially if something is needed on the fly. Shit happens, then shit needs to get done.
That’s why we feel passionate that, equipped with some brand standards (like colors and fonts) and this one design principle, you can do anything your brand needs when a pro is unavailable!
If you’re spending way too much time on your DIY design, that means it’s time to uplevel your design templates. Just any ol’ Canva templates aren’t going to cut it. You need something that makes your designs look as smart as your ideas without spending hours trying to make them work.
But if you’re not quite ready to hire out design help — don’t worry. We’ve got ya covered.
The Complete DIY Course Design Kits have everything you need to create social graphics, video thumbnails, and PDFs without confusing gimmicks and over-the-top design elements.
Each one is ready to customize to fit your brand’s secret sauce in easy-to-use, easy-to-edit, Canva templates. We’ve even got color, font, and additional add ons like roadmaps and slide decks so you can take that beautifully designed brand a step further!
If you’re ready to make shit happen, head over to our shop to snag yours!
Copyright 2022 Nicole A. Yang, LLC
Our Grant Program
Where Your Money Goes
Email us at
join me on instagram!