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I'm going to be cleaning out our contributor list next week. Anyone who has not voted or submitted anything in the past year is going to be downgraded to member as you aren't adding any value as a contributor. Feel free to go through the process again.

Members: if you are consistently getting work accepted, please consider leaving the group and rejoining/applying as a contributor. We could use active people to help with voting. Submissions (your submissions) require less votes if you are a contributor.

Contributors: Please view the work in detail before voting (for gallery items and contributor submission). If no one has commented on why they voted no, it doesn't help the person who has submitted their work so please write a little blurb on why you voted the way you did.
Sound fishy? That’s essentially what a very good majority of people expect, if you substitute a Rolex for a logo.

You can’t get a Rolex of a logo for $50, or $100. I’m using a Rolex as an example because it’s made with care and quality and takes a while to make, and the price reflects that. So if you’re a designer and you work for a price that is low, the assumption is your product is cheaply made and won’t last and you didn’t take the time to research and craft an exceptional product. I’m not saying you have to charge $50,000 for a logo. Be aware of fair market standards. If you have no experience and need a starting point and thinking that doing low-budget work will help you get a foothold, the reality check is once you get there, that’s all you’ll get. Your word-of-mouth referral would be “hire this guy, he’s cheap”, so you’re never going to be able to raise your prices without losing that customer base, and if that’s all you are depending on, you’re going to get screwed.

The best thing you can do is work for a company. If you have no experience, plenty of places are open to hiring an intern.

As a client, you need to be aware of why you need good design.

Adam Swan had a very nice write-up on Forbes about the Era of Design…, where he stated,

“What is certain is that the design bar has been raised and design-oriented businesses are winning.

Think how swiftly and strongly a design experience shapes our opinion of that brand, company or store, for good or bad. For instance, we know quickly when a website is bad. And we associate that feeling of frustration, or worse, disappointment with that brand.

Design-oriented organizations invest in thinking this stuff through. They put design at the heart of their company to guide innovation and to continually improve products, service and marketing. They recognize that a great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profit.”
Image shown at actual production resolution

And this, kids, is why we never ever use Microsoft Word to design. Anything. Ever.

Does this effort make you want to spend $250.00 a person (to start)? Answer: No.

Sadly, what this effort does communicate, however, is that Sylvester Stallone is a loon, not an Icon...

(take notes, you'll be tested)

Stacie / Perfektion Design

A little while ago Andy Rutledge tweeted the statement:

“Dear designers, it’s not the clients. It’s you. “Clients from hell” only work with designers from hell. Reflect on your life.”

I found myself shaking my head at the push-back and knee-jerking made by some peers. The reactions were that of personal insult and/or an immediate recounting of a client interaction that was perceived as brutal.

The message was obviously lost on some.

As designers, especially those of us who - ya know - work for ourselves, we have the luxury of choosing who we work with. It’s that simple. Why would you willfully choose to work with someone you, yourself, would define as a client from hell?

See how I said define? While the parameters of what defines a client from hell will vary from designer to designer, the reality is this: you vet your clients, and you chose to work with them.

An argument had been made that if you’re a designer working within a firm you aren’t the one to actually retain clientele. However, when you get down to brass tacks, if a client is so disruptive to your creative flow it starts to affect your productivity, that particular client is now costing your firm money. There are always measures to address and resolve these issues in reputable design firms. If your firm is focused solely on their bottom line, rather than your ability to design a quality product, it then becomes your choice to stay with that employer, (willfully knowing you will have to compromise your ideals to do so).

Many years ago the best boss/mentor/jedi master I ever had, looked at me and said, “As much as people tell you this world full of grey areas, it isn’t. The world is your own, and your choices make it black and white.” I just stood there and blinked, like she punched me in brain. But she was right, you alone choose how you live and work.

I’ve made some shitty choices in my life but I’ve survived, learned from them and moved forward making better ones. It’s the same with my design career, I’ve refined my client evaluation process to ensure I only work on projects that fit my ideals. Does it mean that my early, less then ideal, clients were from hell? Nope. It just means that my own standards weren’t fully established.

So the next time you’re ready to captain-kirk-drop-kick a client because they’re making your life difficult, remember where they got the invite into your life to begin with, and adjust your future vetting process accordingly.

Stacie / Perfektion Design
(I had posted this on our blog awhile back and thought it was a good fit for here as well as I'm sure we've all had to deal with these issues. It's got good info for both designers and clients.)

You know you need that website or print piece so you’ve hired a designer and you’re ready to have them turn your dreams into reality. Or are you? In the 15 or so years that I have been working as a designer I have found that a percentage of clients really struggle when it comes to the actual design and making decisions on the project.

The tell-tale signs ...

If you’ve ever uttered or even thought of any of the three following phrases then please read on for some helpful tips on how to break through indecision, listen to your designer, and help the visual marketing for your business become a reality.

#1 "I'll know it when I see it."

Why it's bad: Quite possibly the most dangerous statement to announce to a professional designer. If you mention this up front, some won't even continue to work with you until you figure out what you DO want. The problem with this is that you are internally personalizing the design. While you certainly know your business better than your designer, you're not allowing your designer to do what they do best. A good designer will work closely with you and obtain a lot of information before even starting an actual concept. They will also need to know all about your target market – who are you trying to reach with the project? A client can be way off in determining what their target audience will respond to simply based on their own personal preferences and, "knowing it" when they see it. And the final flaw to this is that it can delay a project and cost a client a lot of money if revisions to a concept go past what was originally agreed upon simply because a client hasn’t, "seen it" yet.

What you can do instead: Before even hiring a designer, do your own research. Find out what others in your field are doing or have done. What is your competition up to? Where are you with your business right at this moment? Where do you want to be? Who are your current customers? Do you want to reach different customers? Look at a lot of other designs (web, graphic, etc.) and be able to answer any questions put to you in regards to style, color, your business branding, etc. Also, make sure your designer goes through a initial process of "discovery" on the project to fully understand the details and learn about you, your business and your market.

#2 Using words and phrases like, "edgy", "make it pop", "hip" ...

Why it's bad: The problem with descriptors such as these is simply that they need further explanation. What "edgy" or making something "pop" means to you can mean something totally different to your designer or even your customer.

What you can do instead: Before you use some modern buzzwords to describe what you want, elaborate a little. Instead of using the phrase "hip", say that your target market is 20-30 somethings that are into a retro style … they like hanging out in coffee houses and art galleries ... they like vintage Atari games … we need a site to appeal to these people! Whatever it is, it will give the designer more information and they can ask additional questions if necessary. Be prepared to answer them and not cop out with something like, "well that's why I'm hiring you to make it hip!" This will not help your project because I have a hunch that if you wanted something, "edgy" you'll also, "know it when you see it".

#3 "My mother's second cousin didn’t like that concept."

Why it's bad: The final point is the client who gets every relative, associate and neighbor's dog to review the concepts because they can not decide on their own what is best for their business. The inability to make decisions while a project is in full swing can kill momentum as well as tend to drive a project in directions that it shouldn't be going. When I was young and just starting out I noticed that the clients who could not decide on their own and asked everyone they knew for input would run me in circles making concept after concept and change after change to please each person they asked and often times end up telling me, "You know, I like that very first one the best".

A special side note on this one: Even if you don’t show the concept to everyone but YOU don't like it, be prepared to tell your designer exactly why and have a list of change requests ready to make that concept meet your goals better. Simply stating you don't like something and you'd like to, "see something else" puts you right into the #1 category of, "I'l know it when I see it" and nobody wants that.

What you can do instead: Honestly if you can not decide what is best for your project you need to take a few steps back and really think about your business, your needs, your target market and customers and the goals of the project you're hiring a designer for – before you even hire them. Refer back to point #1 with the research. Asking your business partner or associate for their input can of course be very valuable to a project (and often necessary), but when you step outside of your business and start asking everyone you know it can be a real detriment. Resist the urge to do that!

Sherry Holub
Creative Director

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