All professions deserve respect; whether it is doctors, car mechanics, teachers, accountants, architects, police officers or designers. We all studied and worked hard to gain experience, so why is it that the design profession sometimes seams to be less respected? The problem might be that people don’t see the value design can bring. And some are only interested in acknowledging the time they are paying for, which often means they focus on the money (i.e. going with the cheapest option).
If it is all about time or saving money, the outcome by default becomes less of a priority. Because design is often subjective, it can be difficult for a non-professional to know if the outcome is good or bad. Yes, we can all have opinions but if you don’t have the experience or expertise, or have objective reasoning to back up concepts, there’s really little point (and no, ‘my wife likes yellow’ is not a good enough reason). This is why it’s so important to work with the right team that you can trust and take advice from.
Here at K&i we create based on the brief we set with our clients. But even with a great brief, there’s still no way of knowing ‘what it will be like’ or how ‘it will look’ before we start. We rely on research, knowledge, experience and expertise, and of course hard work to make it happen.
Design and its costs
The first problem with establishing the value of design is that many see design as an expense and not an investment. An investment by definition is the expectation of a worthwhile result, whereas an expense is a pure cost. Because design brings long-term effects, it should really be seen as an investment.
Unfortunately, some people have the idea that design shouldn’t cost much. Even though most people, in their everyday lives, wouldn’t opt to go for the cheapest option if they didn’t’ have to, because it usually means you will have to pay again pretty soon. If you don’t invest in good design it will cost you one way or another in the long run. The number of times people have approached us to ‘fix’ something that they have already paid for is shocking. And that’s when it really becomes expensive.
”If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.Dr Ralf Dieter SpethCEO Jaguar & Land Rover
But how do you know what to pay?
Many of our clients come to us, being upfront, saying they are confused as to why the quotes they’ve received from different agencies or designers vary so much. Unfortunately there are a large proportion of designers, freelancers and smaller agencies offering fees so low it is damaging to the industry and impossible to live on. Some because they undervalue their own work, and some because they are just not good enough to demand anything but rock bottom.
The best way to know what to pay is to first look at what you can afford. What is the scope of work and what is your budget? Then find the creative team you want to work with and be open in the discussion of what you are trying to achieve and what your budget is, and you’ll know if it’s realistic or not.
Design and its outcomes
Design isn’t just about making something look good. It also needs to function well and be a solution to a brief. Otherwise, it’s art.
If you want to know if the investment is worth it, you need to know what you want to achieve, what the objective is, and if this objective can be measured (which isn’t always the case). If you don’t measure the outcome it will hard to know if it has added any value. Measure the impact of design before and after it’s been implemented. See if perception has changed; see if the bottom line has changed. However, you do have to take into consideration the many factors that are involved in making a design successful, like a great marketing team.
”If design isn’t profitable, then it’s art.Henrik Fisker
Design and its value
The evidence is clear. Businesses that invest in good design have higher growth and market share compared to businesses that don’t. It shows how design adds value and impacts on performance.
“Using and valuing design brings bottom line benefits, and those who understand and act on this insight have a competitive edge over the rest.“
“On average, design alert businesses increase their market share by 6.3% through using design.”
“Design increases turnover: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues.”
“22% higher growth in turnover among companies that invest in design compared to those who don’t, and up to 40% growth when the investments are consistently higher.”
The Value of Design – Factfinder report | UK Design Council / Design ROI | DDC Denmark
It is perhaps more challenging to explain and translate the value we designers are delivering to prospective clients because of automation in our field (read our previous blog post about robots). But this is where creativity will shine. As research shows, to have a competitive edge, design is the way to go!