I recently came across an article by Shannon Noack in which she wrote about common misconceptions about web designers. She mentioned how people have the misconception that designers are living large based on how much they charge. After reading that, I began to think about how in our industry we’re forced to prove ourselves in ways which wouldn’t ever be asked of in other industries.
Upfront expectations in other industries, are you nuts?
If I need my car repaired or my house painted, I would never ask a mechanic or a contractor to fix or paint anything before meeting and establishing a plan and budget before work begins. So why does this happen time and time again to web designers??
Now this could fall under the spec work debate but to me, it’s a bit more than that. Why is the problem with designers and not so much for other areas of the web?
I could be wrong and it probably happens, but most clients would never ask a developer to build a prototype or ask an SEO to provide keyword research up front with no contract or budget agreed upon. Although within the design sector, it’s no problem asking for a graphic concept, HTML, or CSS up front in order to prove one’s skills or to win work. In some cases this happens even before any information or understanding about a company or product is ever discussed or proper research has been done.
It’s based on a lot of misconceptions
Just like a mechanic or paint company, designers work and rely on business to earn a living or pay employees. This is just like any other type of business and includes a lot more than people think. The common misconception is that anyone can do web design and all we do is make things pretty.
Well, painters (the canvas type) also make things pretty but I am sure people would never ask them to make one brush stroke up front. Previous works and experience would be the reason for selecting a specific painter for the job, right!? You would never ask a doctor to do a surgery or a pilot to fly you somewhere without explaining what’s wrong or where you want to go, right? You would also want to know their experience and that they are qualified for the job, right? Would you ask the pilot for a test flight or the doctor for a test surgery? NO!
This should be the case within the web design industry as well! Our experience, previous work and ability to deliver on time should be what clients are interested in, not how well we can use an image editor with no information or understanding of their needs. This often causes good designers to look bad and clients to receive work that isn’t top notch according to their specific needs.
I know educating clients and co-workers from the beginning is the way to help solve this issue and a lot of it is due to a misunderstanding of web design as a whole. Educating about spec work also helps, but I thought comparing it to other real life industries would help to point out what people are really asking for when asking for design work in advance.
I just wanted to touch on that but there are many other areas of misconception so be sure to check out the original article.
Thanks for reading and if you would like to add anything or have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.