Design adds value

It’s not always enough to design something for a client, especially the way things are today. Today, we need our clients engaged in the design process. We need them involved in a collaboration perhaps not of equal but of complimentary talent, information and motivation.

Very often you’ll need to educate the client to a point where they become aware not only of design but of how to think about it.

Really?  I’ve been doing this almost 38 years, and I have done my best to learn something or some hundred things EVERY DAY, including weekends, and I’m supposed to share this with every client?  Worse, I’m supposed to share how I reached my conclusions?  Impossible, you’ll likely say.

And you’ll be exactly right.  Unfortunately…

There’s some younger, smarter, more tech facebook twitter pinterest houzz cultivate whatever-savvy individual who has decided that he can simply get between you and your client and take the work you rightly should be doing. Worse, that person may not even have any schooling in design.  Five years from now, this guy’s your competition…

And that’s exactly wrong, given the predictable result.


Right and wrong, in this case, are irrelevant.

If I can’t inform my client as to what the differences are, what she gets when she uses a seasoned professional vs. an overly ambitious amateur, the long-term cost vs. benefit as opposed to the short-term cheap fix…the fact that without a clearly conceived plan based on sound design principles and experienced execution any project is destined to fail utterly?  I’m failing at a part of my profession which includes “sales” or “marketing” or something similar.

For me, I think you have to engage people directly.  Explain the differences. Establish your bona fides.  THEN educate both in design principles and in how to think about design until they hand over the retainer.

Fortunately, you can learn to do this.  Whether you learn to do this defines whether you adapt to the way things are today.  To paraphrase Darwin, “adapt or die”.

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