Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Graphic Designers & the Holidays: an opinion

Graphic Design Blog of www.graphicdesignblog.org recently wrote a post about how all designers (or at least the blogger) hate the Holidays because they have to work during them. The diatribe goes on to talk about extreme work pressure, unrealistic deadlines, and no time for family, but I have a differing opinion and this goes along with a previous post about the Top 5 mistakes that graphic designers make. The Holidays don't have to be anymore stressful than you make them out to be, so let's go over these points in detail:

Extreme Work Pressure
There is definitely pressure to get things done for the holidays such as Greeting Cards, holiday promotions and more, but the real issue here is time management on your part and your client's part. If you know a client does a yearly promotion or greeting card, call them earlier in the year and ask them to start planning now so the end of year rush doesn't have to be so hectic. Training your clients to respect your time is just as important as managing your end of year projects, and yes I do mean training your clients. It's important that they know how to work with designers, especially when it comes to time sensitive projects like Holiday Greeting cards or product promotions they need to have out before Christmas. 

Unrealistic Deadlines
Many clients do have unrealistic deadlines towards the end of the year, but this goes along with the previous note. Training your clients to give you design work early can save you from having to deal with 1 day deadlines and overbooked printers. Remember, the early bird catches the worm! The blogger on Graphic Design Blog talks about getting a calendar design out in a day: this is the point at which you kindly tell your client that this is impossible and next time, they need to come to you earlier. If you're professional about it and explain to them that rush jobs come at a two-fold price: lack of quality and a fee, they'll soon learn to give you graphic design projects earlier and with a fair amount of time for you to do the project and produce quality work within their budget.

No Time for Family
This is unrealistic. Obviously your clients will be spending time with their families, and they should expect the same of you. This can be fixed by simply saying no to projects that you know will eat up your precious holiday time with family. If your client can't understand this, then you probably don't want to be working with them. Moreover, along with the last two points, if you manage your time, and help your clients to understand how to manage theirs, you'll be able to get projects done before deadline and have time to spend with family afterwards.

Clients Demand Perfection
I have nothing else for this but one sentence: don't they always? Christmas should be no exception to this rule or issue that designers face. The blogger talks about clients demanding so many revisions it's hard to keep up, but the simple issue is this: are you saying no to these minuscule revisions? If the scope of the project has gone far and beyond the original contract, are you charging more for your extra time spent? If not, this is an issue with your process and not Christmas. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Design: The secret ingredient behind Great Brands

Graphic Design Blog

When you first start using a product, go to a new store, get a new add-on to a computer or camera, it doesn't take long to figure out if the designers actually spent time using the product. Design doesn't end at aesthetics. When you get behind the wheel of a well designed car, you know immediately that the design team has spent countless hours on aesthetics, but also touch, smell, maneuverability, usability and so much more. Apple does this as well. Take a look at how well their products work, whether it's design, programming or usability, and you'll agree.

Great design inspires and delights; it triggers followers and fans, repeat business and word of mouth recommendations. Some brands do this well, and others do not. This is no more evident than when you walk into a Target store as I have done three times in the past few weeks. Target has branded itself well in some ways, even painstakingly well. People like to shop there because they can get awesome stuff for their homes, closets and anything else at an affordable price. They're completely aware of the design of their products and customer perception...right? Not totally. Their attention to detail stops at the checkout lane.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top 5 Freelancer & Design Firm Mistakes

Graphic Design Company

It's well known that we learn more from mistakes than successes, but sometimes it's nice to learn from someone else's mistakes rather than our own. Every designer will have their own stories and mistakes to tell, but here is a collection of mine and perhaps yours as well. I hope you find them useful so you can avoid these in your career.

Pricing Issues
The main issue we as designers face is pricing. Rather - under pricing for our services. Money can be a difficult subject to handle for people, but the simple fact is: graphic designers deserve to earn a fair price for their work, especially if the quality, time input and experience is there. Use this as a way to judge your prices: If you do great work and never lose a bid; your prices are too low!

Be careful about charging by the hour as well as you may be getting less money for your experience and talents because you're faster than others. Some jobs require a significant amount of experience and expertise while not taking a lot of time to complete. An example of this is plumbing: A customer complains about the price of changing a pipe, so the plumber said, "It's $10 for the pipe, and $990 for knowing where to put it".