If there’s one constant; it’s that designers are little understood, our work unappreciated and customers think we charge too much. Why is that, I wonder?
Well, when it’s done right, the end result looks like it took hardly anything at all to do, it’s so simple/elegant/straightforward. So the customer may feel like their 6 year old could have done it (that is actually a back-handed compliment) and wonder just what they hired you for. Well, yes it’s their bad for not engaging in the process, willing to abdicate control of their investment to a designer in exchange for really, not being bothered. And they have the gall to complain? Bah, humbug!
We share our lot with programmers, coders and project managers and it’s down to the 80:20 rule – 80% planning, 20% doing.
The 80:20 rule – 80% planning, 20% doing
The customer rarely sees all of the 20% do, and certainly little of the 80% plan, so it’s no wonder they think – like in the movies – we just wriggle our fingers and things just spring to life like, yesterday!
Hang on, did you use a formal process to engage your customer every chance you could? Or did you just wing it? Are you really a designer, or a pretender?
There are many that bravely call themselves designers, but are generally ignorant of the depth of knowledge, call to excellence, adherance to a code of practice and formal education that are the hall mark of the professional designer.
Why brave? Well, when one is being sued for negligence, one of the things to establish is whether there is a Duty of Care and the level of that care. That care is largely determined by what the Defendant holds themselves out to be, regardless of their actual qualification or experience. So if one were say, to create a commercial website and had advertised or otherwise made it known that they were a professional person (e.g. a designer), then they would be examined in the light of the standard of conduct generally expected of a designer. Held accountable to that level of care to the customer expected of that professional. Thus the Plaintiff (unhappy customer) could be awarded damages consistent with that expectation. But if one were honest in the face presented to the customer, then would likley be held accountable to a level of care natural to them, and much more defensible in court.
It’s also damned annoying to deal with customers slashed, beaten and bruised by ignorant wannabes thinking themselves designers when they have little idea of how to effectively carry out their role. This is not to say that many of these people are not good or talented.
They may be excellent artists with an intuitive grasp of what the customer wants and able to produce a unique creation that the customer is happy with. They may be incredible programmers that can call up all manner of widgets and plugins that make a website a technological cornucopia. They may build a really nice chair, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve contributed in any way to the field of design. They may be a qualified architech that has designed many complexes and condos, but if those designs approval despite not being fit for purpose they are merely bad designs from a bad designer whom I would openly challenge against the appropriate Professional Code of Conduct.
That people are talented in a few areas doesn’t make them a good oveall designer. Merely a talented person that misses the mark despite mantaining a cohort of satisfied customers (customer that don’t know they’ve been denied what they deserved because they too are ignorant of what they should have had).
There’s a reason good design costs. It’s because a certain maturity is called for in dealing effectively with a business customer. The reality is that web design is like an iceberg; there’s a whole lot under the surface supporting what a customer actually sees. A certain exposure to that world, and experience in theat world also. Plus the grounding in all that impacts site design, past, contemporary and expected. The ability to think for the customer, to anticipate their needs, not wants. To pull a corporate identity from a client and transform that to an effective site that engages the user with that branding at every step, with matching user experience (UX) and a natural flow to sale. It’s one thing to slap pre-prepared copy and graphics into a ready-made WordPress theme and totally another to create a site fit for use.
So now that you know there’s some hard yakka in being a Designer, get on with it!