Design is a Job

At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Mike Monteiro spoke about how it’s often the designer who’s at fault when the client requests something that makes designers want to role their eyes. The whole talk was full of really awesome quotable bits of advice. So these take-aways are basically all of those quotables:

  • Mike Monteiro wrote, Design is a Job, which I’ve read and highly recommend to any designer struggling with how to work successfully with clients.
  • We have to understand that most people won’t buy design in their life and so the lack of understanding toward our industry should be understandable.
  • Selling design is part of our job (don’t just email the mockup and hope for the best)
  • Don’t ever work for or with someone you don’t respect
  • Stop waiting for an invitation to do your job
  • Clients don’t know how to read your portfolio, the work doesn’t speak for itself.
    • You don’t sell the suit, you sell the service
  • A designer is the sum of their problem-solving and communication skills
  • Referrals are awesome – every job you do is a sales pitch for the next one.
  • A request for proposal (RFP) is a client saying “I’m scared”.
    • Ironically, the work in your portfolio that the clien likes is a result of a specific design process and research that involves more than just giving them a quote. That great work they like started with a relationship with those previous clients where you researched and talked through what they needed, not merely gave them a quote for work.
    • When asked to design something as part of the pitching/proposal process, the best answer is “I don’t know, but I have a process that will get to the solution”.
    • Show the client they are in good hands
  • Having an itemized list on invoice helps clients understand what they are paying for. It takes the mystery out of the client/designer relationship.
  • No one is born a good client… or a good designer
  • Communicate with clients like doctors communicate with patients.
  • The way to be a better designer is to help our clients be better clients.

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