Studio structures

14 08 2008

With my career goal to set up a successful design studio, I have always been very interested in the structure of current design outfits.

Last summer, I worked as a designer for 6 weeks at a small agency to gain some work experience. They were made up of 2 full time designers and 2 full time developers with an MD who would get the clients in. I’m not going to mention the MD, who had no design or web experience at all but still felt it was his place to tell the designers how to improve their work. However, this structure seemed to have a major flaw. Neither designer at the company had any web training. The implication of this, as the developers would tell, were that the web templates they were producing were very often impossible to replicate online. Also, the assets they were handing the developers needed a lot of work done before any code could be written.

This put me in a strong position because I had experience of both and could therefore take both disciplines into consideration within my designs. However, the manager was not keen to let me do any coding myself, not trusting that I could do both.

At the time I had not looked too far into other studio structures and just regarded this studio as a badly run company. However, looking into it further this set up is not too uncommon.

I have just recently started with a full service agency who consist of a PR, Print and Online team. More often than not we tend to work with a client in every area. While I work as a part of the online team I am very much paid to be a developer. The designers in the print team are charged with the task of designing all of the sites we then have to produce. These designs then get passed onto the online teams asset manager who prepares these for build. With all the respect in the world for our asset manager he seems like an unneeded expense.

Would it not be better to either employ a designer who has web in mind or to employ a developer who has design skills to do the whole web work from design to build. I know that me and another of the developers in the office are capable of doing this.

Anyway, I hope this has got you thinking about the structure of your studio.

Please let me know how your company is structured and if it works. What do you think a good structure for a design outfit is? Is there room for multi-disciplined people in them?

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4 responses

14 08 2008
Dave

I strongly agree, it is often the case that managers try and delegate tasks or impose methods on their staff without knowing how the work will be accomplished.

14 08 2008
Chris

We have a small agency.

9 people

3 teams

1 designer
1 programmer
1 sales/project manager

It works perfectly.

14 08 2008
Joe

I work for a small web agency. I’m the only designer, there are 3 developers, 2 project co-ordinators and the managing director, who is very web savvy. It works really well.

20 08 2008
Steve - Eightyone Design

We are a very small company, just me and my partner so we kind of share roles. We do have set skills though which works very well. Lu is more creative whereas I am more on the tech side of things.

We class ourselves as graphic designers but do offer web work. However, we only focus on the design of static websites, if anything more involved is required (e-commerce / CMS / etc) then we hand this over to a developer and this seems to work very well.

Steve

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