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What Makes Me Sick About the Design Business

by | Apr 23, 2010 | Articles | 36 comments

The business of graphic and web design is a difficult business to break into. Designers are no longer expected to simply be print experts, but they must also have web knowledge as well. Most designers these days are well rounded and are capable of handling both worlds.  This business is an ever-changing one, but there are some major things that tick me off to no end.

The first one are these so called designers that claim to be professionals. They have not had any formal training in art or design and belong nowhere near a design studio, let alone doing freelance work for major companies. They tell everyone that that can do a logo or print work very cheap, and when doing so, they under cut the real deal professionals and make us look like we are the rip-offs. Then, when they get a commissioned job with someone, they do such a terrible job that they leave a company feeling jaded towards graphic designers everywhere. Not only are these selfish jerks ruining our opportunities for real business ventures, they are making all design work look overpriced.

Another big one for me are these so called web designers that claim that they can design in Joomla, Ajax, PHP, and every other programming language on the planet, but when it comes right down to it, they couldn’t design their way out of a paper bag. They make me sick, especially for the fact that the true professionals out there have gone through years of training and learning standards compliance so that we can deliver the best, most consistent product across all browsers, and these home grown designers are ruining it. It is fine if you are self taught, but you had better know the true ins and outs of HTML and CSS to deliver a top quality product, and you had better set a decent price so that web design holds its value across the board. Newbies like these are the reason that all of these sites have popped up where people can buy a “web design” for $250, and a logo for $100. If one of them just so happen to have a decent idea, they are only getting $100 for it! For those of us that actually have value to our work, and do market research, look at the competition, research the company history and the product history, and create a unique logo and branding system that makes a company really shine, people want it for much less than it is worth.

The third and final group that I am peeved at are the ones that care nothing about the business and charge extremely high rates, while feeding on the ignorance of the client. I had a company a while back that sought me out after their web designer had left in mid project. They said that the site was almost done, and that they just needed me to pick up where he left off. They wanted animation via Flash, and wanted a clean, solid html site with an online store for their products. They handed me the files and I expected when they aid that the site was almost done that I would be looking at html files and things of that nature. Before he had left, he handed them all of the materials that he had done, one of which was a dvd with his working files on it. When I opened the file, to my surprise I found only a .psd file! He had charged them $150 per hour for about 50-60 hours, when he had only done a couple of hours of work. I immediately had to hold a meeting with the company and  go back and explain what he had done, and how far off the project was from being done. I explained my rate (which is $50 per hour) and that I would do my best to work quickly to get the job done, but that they were still looking at thousands of dollars to get the project completed. They agreed, but they were not happy, and it made our profession look like a bunch of crooks. My pet peeve here is when someone charges 10 times what their work is worth, and takes advantage of people. It looks bad for the whole profession, and word of mouth travels fast! Each person may tell only 1-3 people that they know when someone does something good for them, but if someone does something bad or mistreats or deceives them, they will tell at least ten people that they know.

I’m not sure that we can do anything about this, but there needs to be a code of ethics in place for all designers. Don’t sell yourself off as something that your not, and don’t claim to do things that you can’t do. Set fair prices and don’t take advantage of people. Bad word of mouth travels so far and so fast, you will run yourself out of business. If you are honest and up front with your clients, then they will trust you, and chances are, you’ll be called back to do more work in the future. Practicing bad business and working underhandedly not only hurts yourself, but it hurts our industry more than you know.

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