All posts tagged design business

Are we giving away the right hours?

I’m fairly certain nobody who buys design is actually paying the true cost of design. Because nobody ever bills all their hours.

Be honest now—when was the last time you billed every single hour you spent on a project of any significance? It just doesn’t happen. We always give away hours. Here is a small selection of reasons why:

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Beware the sacred cows

Just like the trap of “real UX,” there’s another cognitive trap we UXers are prone to: unexamined sacred cows. I hold up before you—the pattern library.

I recently became convinced that we needed to build a pattern library and product style guide for our company. We have products sprouting like mushrooms all over the place and not nearly enough designers and product managers and developers to go around. I’m always getting asked for color and style guidance, and I don’t have much to give people. I can barely keep up with the design of the products I know about, never mind products that don’t yet exist.

A pattern library would help scale our limited UX resources, I thought, so we could have influence on products even if we don’t have time to actively work on them. It would help us catalog our ideas so we wouldn’t try to invent the same thing twice. It would help us work faster and be more consistent.

I got as far as poking around in a test install of Sharepoint our IT guys set up for me, but then—thank goodness!—while sitting in the tenth row at the LeanDayUX conference in New York, listening to Bill Scott talk about GitHub, I had an epiphany.

I was going about this for all the wrong reasons:
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Ask for more

Given that women make up 50 percent of the world’s population, having one day out of 365 designated as a day of observance or honor or awareness-raising (or whatever the point of it is) seems inadequate to the point of insult.

Nevertheless, since we’ve only got a few minutes left in International Women’s Day, I’d like to make a small contribution to women’s advancement in the form of a piece of advice:

Ladies, ask for more money.

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Duration: the designer’s friend

Time may be on your side, but if you’re doing any kind of creative work, what you really ought to care about is duration.

In project management terminology, the number of hours it will take to you do a task is referred to as effort. Duration, on the other hand, is the span of time those hours are spread over.

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Three things I don’t miss about running a business

When I announced I was going to give up my design business after 13 years and seek employment, one of my colleagues said with absolute authority: “You’ll hate it.”

Thankfully, she was wrong.

Far from hating being employed, I actually feel a bit guilty about how much I’m enjoying it. Even though I loved having my own business—and for almost a dozen years I never even entertained the notion of giving it up—the fact is, it was hard work. By comparison (and my employer will probably cut my salary in half after they read this) employment is a cake walk.

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How to be a confident design buyer

When you buy a car, you can be pretty sure of what you’re getting. You can read expert reviews, look up the manufacturer’s specs, research government safety ratings, visit owner forums online—you can even take it for a test drive and experience the sound of the engine and the smell of the Corinthian leather. You have many ways to evaluate the quality of the car before you make a purchase decision. And as soon as you write the check, you can drive the car right off the lot.

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10 things to do when business is slow

If you’re running a creative business or consultancy, sooner or later work is going to slow down. But that doesn’t mean you should, too. Slow times should be viewed not as a curse, but as an opportunity to do all the housekeeping, strategy, planning, and personal development that you always wish you had time for when you’re busy.

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Hate your logo? Think twice before redesigning it

Does this sound familiar? “Our corporate logo is stodgy and out of date. It looks like it was designed in the 1950s. By monkeys. My friends tell me if they cross their eyes, the mark looks like a five-pointed swastika. I hate purple! Look at Walmart’s new logo—it’s so friendly! We need one just like that. But different. Our logo should perfectly express Who We Are.”

I feel your pain. Really. Everyone gets sick of their own logo and branding after a while, and the urge to throw everything out and start over with something new, fresh, and exciting can be overwhelming. There’s a tendency to think that a new logo will somehow rejuvenate your company, inspire your employees, engage your customers, create glorious new markets, solve world hunger…

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Is a design degree worth it?

Sometimes I forget how glamorous the life of a designer looks from the outside: I get to be my own boss, explore my creativity, work on exciting projects for high-profile organizations, hang out with other cool designers, use a sexy Macintosh computer with all the latest software…

Obviously, no career is all glamour all the time, but impressionable people who don’t have any experience with the industry could easily fall for a pitch like this. And if you told them “visual creativity drives the global economy,” [1] or “you could make over $1,000,000 more in lifetime earnings,” [2] or “employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 10% each year through 2016,” [3] you might really have them hooked.

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Print to web, part 1

“Print to web” is a two-part series that outlines the basic concepts and skills print designers need to learn to transition into web design. Jump to Part 2 »

. . .

“How do I become a web designer?” This is a question I hear all the time from my print colleagues. Yet there don’t seem to be any resources to tell you how to get there.

Having made the transition myself, I have strong empathy for print designers who want to learn web design but can’t figure out how to get started. It’s easy to feel like you’ve missed the boat and that the barrier to entry is insurmountable because the technology is too daunting or changes too fast.

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