A united design nation

20 08 2008

Good morning campers,

I’ve spent a few days reading design news and yesterday morning I read a very interesting article by the guys over at Eighty One.

The article asked questions of the new and ‘questionable’ design start-ups that are springing up from everywhere. It does seem that because any tom, dick or hillary can get a copy of adobe creative suite these days that more people consider themselves ‘designers’

With most of these people working out of a bedroom their overheads are minimal and with no wider understanding of the industry the prices they are willing to work for seem ridiculously low. The agency I work for recently pitched a web-site for a medium sized property agency that came in at a cost of £1200 which was a discounted rate because we had worked numerous times with them before. However, a ‘friend’ of the owner advised them that he knew someone who could do it for a third of that price. This seemed ridiculously low, but what was more ridiculous was that the clients then decided to go with that idea and declined our work.

On the other side of the coin we had been working for a major boat manufacturer for years when last year we were under cut by another ‘rogue’ agency who pitched a number of extravagant features at a fraction of our price. Sadly, we lost the contract to their exciting propositions. However, six months on we received a call from the manufacturers informing us that our rival company could not complete the job proposed and that next years work was up for grabs once more. We subsequently won that contract and have started work. It is a shame that the client had to learn the hard way that generally, in this industry, you get what you pay for.

This all got me thinking was there anything that could be done?

I came up with the idea of starting an alliance (something along the lines of ‘you get what you pay for’) that provided a kitemark for any of it’s approved members which would show any potential client that you will be getting a high standard of work. I’ve not got enough experience myself to start something like this and would be looking for some far me experienced designers/developers to get on board and promote this.

What do you guys think? Would you join something like this? Do you think it would help? Do you think that in this profit run world that low prices will continue to win contracts?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Good day to you all




8 responses

20 08 2008

Kind of a SidebarCreative-like alliance? I’m in 🙂

20 08 2008
Steve - Eightyone Design

Hi Micheal,

Thanks for the mention. As I said on our blog post, I would definitely be interested in this. Keep me posted.


20 08 2008

I completely agree with this idea and would definitely be in. I’ve run my studio for over 4 years and worked as a manager at another firm previously and can’t count the number of times I’ve had clients take business to a company that quoted a third of my rate. I think it’s highly devaluing our profession and it’s begin to translate into businesses posting on sites like Craigslist asking for work to be done at outrageously low prices.

20 08 2008
Doug S.

As one of those “rogue” designers, I’d say I’m interested as well. I understand the worry about undercutting other, better firms and I try very hard to only promise what I can deliver (though, in my defense sometimes a client agrees then demands more) so I’d be very interested in joining some sort of design guild-esque organisation that would allow me to work better in the design world.

At least long enough until one of you studio guys decides to hire me.

20 08 2008

As a freelance web designer on the higher end of the price scale, I’d definitely be interested in joining some sort of collective group that helps represent quality work at a fair price.

20 08 2008

Absolutely interested. The tough question would be who would watchdog the organization and make sure standards vs fees would be held to a strict level? I can guarantee you will have a mob of ‘bedroom’ designers attempting to elevate themselves to legitimacy through an organization like this and even if only a few managed to weasel their way in, the organization as a whole would suffer.

20 08 2008

Its called the AIGA. It doesn’t work like you think it should. the problem is not everyone puts out the same quality so how could you possibly charge 5 grand for a sub par website. Part of our job as designers is to explain the value of great design to our clients. The AIGA has lots of helpful things so that you are able to do just that.

27 08 2008

Interesting idea Micheal but it might be tricky to put together, I do think there is a big problem with price and quality that some design companies or individuals are offering (£40 logos etc), so a kite mark or something might help. I’ve looked into AIGA before but not properly so i think I’ll take another look, thanks Jim.

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