Being a designer is not easy. And there are many reasons for that. Here’s one of them.
What does a normal man do when they need a website done for them? And I mean someone who has never faced this kind of a challenge. Someone who will be trying to get their (or their business’) first website ever.
(Just to warn you… this is going to be a good ol’ fashioned rant post.)
Well, if they’re not really aware of the seriousness of the situation – and they’re not, since it’s their first website – they will probably browse around the internet to find out how to create a simple website in a DIY style. The “how hard can it be” sort of approach.
They usually get to the point where they think they know what needs to be done and how to do it, but they realize they don’t have the skill nor the time required to perform all of those things. So they start looking around for some help.
First stop: family and friends. There’s always someone around who has seemingly good computer skills, like a cousin, or a friend of your sister’s. This is usually the first person to go to. They know how to do a thing or two in Photoshop, and that’s all there is to it, ain’t it?
But let’s say that, surprisingly, that didn’t work. Let’s say that for some reason no family member was willing to create the website. In such a case the next step is to find a cheap designer. And by cheap I mean a $200-kind-of-cheap because paying more is just ridiculous.
Hiring a good designer or a design firm for more than $2,000? There’s no point. “All they do is create some fancy graphics, and put it together using this WordPress thing.” – A prospective client might think.
So to summarize. In the end, a first time design client ends up with either a family member who thinks he knows what he’s doing, or a cheap designer who is sure he knows what he’s doing, when actually they’re both wrong…
What the nature of the problem is
There’s only one advantage of a cheap designer – they are cheap. That’s it.
What are the disadvantages? There’re plenty. Let me start with something completely different:
You wouldn’t ask a friend of your sister’s to build you a car, would you? Of course you wouldn’t.
Everyone knows that cars need to follow some standards. A car needs to be safe, built in a certain way. It needs stuff like windscreen wipers, adjustable seats, and anti lock brakes. The wheels have to be exactly in line and balanced perfectly, otherwise the ride starts to be dangerous and, what’s even more important, not enjoyable.
We all know that. That’s why we tend to buy cars from big international companies with years of experience behind them, and not the ones built in a shed by a fat bloke named Rick. Even if he’s able to draw a nice body on a piece of paper, and then bend some steel to look alike, the odds are he’s not 100% eligible to be a car manufacturer.
All of this is obvious when it comes to cars. But for some reason it’s not that obvious when it comes to websites.
Sometimes it seems like everyone equipped with Photoshop thinks they’re a web designer, and that they can do a pretty decent job at it. While the truth is they can’t. And that’s the real problem of cheap design.
The nature of the market doesn’t help the cause either. The tools are easily accessible because all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and, in most cases, a bittorrent software.
As a result we have first time design clients who are not willing to pay any real money because they feel like creating a website is not a difficult thing to do, and on the other hand we have a group of amateur designers who think they know what they’re doing even though it’s not true. Such a situation is hopeless for some real designers out there.
Frankly, web design is like any other thing money can buy. There’s a reason why good cars are expensive, why good restaurants are expensive, why good heart surgery is expensive, and why good design is expensive. You sort of get what you pay for.
Now the important part.
How good designers can prevail
First things first. If you’re a designer you don’t want crappy clients who aren’t willing to pay you any good money for good work you’re doing for them. That means the price itself is the best tool of scaring people off.
That being said, what you really want to do is to show your prospective clients why the amount of money you’re asking for is a real bargain, even though it’s a quite large number comparing to the price given by the “almighty cousin”.
If you haven’t realized yet, let me be the one to break it – being a web designer is 90% marketing and 10% the actual designing (similar to any other business). So what you really have to do is to be able to sell your services properly.
If you’re selling them solely on the aesthetics and looks of your work then you will have some hard time getting first time design clients. Because they know that they can get a similar looking design for just a fraction of the price if they ask a new and inexperienced designer.
You have to use other strong points and benefits of your designs. You need to explain to your clients what they’re really paying for, which is: your experience, your knowledge, your ability to research any market and come up with a set of attainable goals, and your skills to create a tailor made website that makes reaching these goals possible.
A web designer is not just someone who can create a poster-like graphics and turn it into HTML. It’s someone who can deliver the perfect website for achieving whatever goals that are important to the client. If you, as a web designer, are able to convey such a message in your marketing pitch you will do just about fine even when dealing with first time design clients.
The important part is that people don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why you need to educate them and explain why your seemingly expensive services are worth every penny.
What this post comes down to is really just one top tip of the day: Don’t sell your prospective clients on why you are the designer for the job, but instead educate them on why they want to do business with you. Do that and you will be no match even for the ten times cheaper “competition”.
All right, no more ranting today. Have you noticed how the cheap design world is really like professional wrestling… everybody pretends to have a real fight, but in the end no one gets hurt? Or is it just me?