Awesome! You won a new client, worked hard on the project, and the client is delighted with your results. You fire off a bog standard invoice and wait for the money to roll in.
And you wait.
A couple of months go by. Suddenly you’re so caught up with everything else you barely have time to chase….umm...what was the client’s name again?
Why Invoice Design Matters
All invoices are designed with the same goal - to help you get paid. But not all invoices are created equal. A poorly designed invoice can cause confusion, annoyance, or apathy at the client’s end. This ultimately leads to payment delays.
Here’s an amusing little rant about poorly designed invoices, and how they make people feel.
That’s why invoice design matters. Your invoice should reflect your professionalism, your branding, show your terms & conditions clearly, and leave a lasting positive impression on clients. The best invoices may even help you attract more business.
Here are our top tips for designing an invoice that charms clients and gets you paid - on time!
1 - Reflect Your Brand
You’ve invested so much time into creating your brand - colour themes, logo, fonts and layout - all those things that make your business ‘you’. Your marketing materials all reflect your business personality. There’s no reason your invoice can’t be proudly branded as well!
WorkflowMax lets you create custom templates by importing files from Microsoft Word. It’s possible to start with a blank template, but I recommend editing the sample ones WorkflowMax provides.
After downloading a sample template you can edit the fields, fonts, layout, colours and upload a logo to reflect your brand. This blog and video shows you how to edit a custom template in WorkflowMax.
Remember - bland and boring invoices may be practical, but they're not going to leave a lasting impression on the client. Give them a reason to look back on you with fond memories!
2 - Make Payment Easy
Like you, your clients are busy people, and I doubt paying an invoice is their favourite part of the day. Your quest - should you choose to accept it - is making this process as painless as possible.
While branding and attractive design are important, readability is crucial. All of your information should be easy to understand at a glance.
This means keeping your invoice design clear and tasteful. Try using your branded colours in headings or subheadings while keeping the main section neutral black on white. Your logo should be neatly positioned and unobtrusive. Whitespace is your friend.
Make sure to keep your font a readable size as well. No one enjoys squinting over 6 point Times New Roman text, especially those of us who are vision challenged!
Here’s an example of a branded invoice that’s easy to read:
Note that this invoice includes:
- Clearly visible invoice number
- Company logo
- Name of recipient
- On-brand colours
- Visible cost breakdown
- Detailed project description
3 - Show Your Appreciation
Your invoice isn’t just for chasing payments; it’s a chance to show gratitude to your client. You want to show gratitude because from a sea of worthy competitors they chose you. Their money is supporting your business and dreams.
Use your invoice as an opportunity to thank every client. I recommend including a brief sentence in the invoice template so it’s never forgotten. It doesn’t need to be long or elaborate - a simple “Thank you, we appreciate your business” goes a long way. For extra special clients you can add a personalised note.
Bonus Tip - Give them the opportunity to thank you in return. Feedback often doesn’t come unless it’s encouraged. A gentle request for feedback on your social media or business page can help you part on mutually happy terms.
4 - Mind Your Language
Money tends to be a sensitive subject. We love getting it, we hate parting with it. And we definitely hate disputing it (anyone who’s loaned cash to family will know how cringeworthy money related conversations can get!).
That’s why your invoice should be carefully worded with appropriate language. Be clear, polite, respectful and concise in your choice of words. This applies to any corresponding letters or terms and conditions as well. Here’s some great advice about being firm but respectful, even when chasing late payments.
5 - Define the Rules
It always surprises me how many people don’t set a due date on their invoice. “Please pay promptly” is a nice sentiment, but it often fails.
You run into trouble when your interpretation of ‘promptly’ is very different from your clients. You think 2 days later is prompt, but they decide it’s 2 months… Since you haven’t bothered to specify a date people assume that promptness is a courtesy not a necessity.
For this reason I strongly recommend setting an actual due date and displaying it clearly on your invoice. This leaves no doubt in the client’s mind about what is required of them. They’re also much more likely to write a note in their diary or calendar. Even better, they might pay immediately to avoid missing the deadline.
If you have a late payment fee policy make sure these terms are set out clearly as well.
6 - Itemise Your Invoice
No one likes getting an invoice for a big sum of money if they’re unclear about exactly what it’s for! Don’t leave any doubt in your client’s mind about the nature of the work you’ve completed for them.
Your invoice should include accurate and easy to understand descriptions of the goods and services being paid for. Avoid vague terms like ‘Design’, in favour of specific descriptions like ‘Graphic design - 5 unique widget logos for website’.
Try to use the same terms used when discussing work content with clients, so they have an instant recognition of the job descriptions in front of them. It can be helpful to ask yourself: “If my client found this invoice a year from now, would they still understand what it’s about?”
7 - Say My Name
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” - Dale Carnegie
Our own name is something that always draws our attention, even on a busy street or in a crowded meeting room. Your ears detect it out of all that noise. The same thing happens on paper - it immediately draws our eyes.
By addressing your client by name, rather than just their business, you’re much more likely to get a swift response.
When using custom templates in WorkflowMax, the dynamic fields pull information from WorkflowMax to populate the final invoice. You can set them up so a client’s name is pulled automatically into a certain part of the invoice, based on the contact information stored in WorkflowMax.
8 - Make It Easy On Yourself
Keep all that in mind and you should be able to create a pleasant invoicing experience for your client. But what about you? You don’t want to pile on extra stress!
Make invoicing an easy process for yourself by using the right cloud based software. The combination of WorkflowMax and Xero can streamline your entire invoicing process. Enter information in one system and it pops through in the other automatically!
Why use Xero & WorkflowMax for invoicing?
- Invoices can be pushed from WorkflowMax to Xero at the click of a button
- Payments in Xero are signed off in WorkflowMax automatically
- Create custom templates in WorkflowMax to reflect your brand
- Create recurring invoices for clients who get the same package every time
- Get a complete and accurate view of your business profitability
If you’re not a WorkflowMax user yet, sign up for a free 2 week trial here. No credit card required & no obligations!
Invoicing is actually one of the most crucial areas of your business, so you’d be a fool not to get it right. Follow these tips to save yourself and clients a lot of headaches and hassle.