The Value of Design

For the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot of conversation about a bait-and-switch company and about doing free work. And they all make amazing points in some clever ways. I need to be more of an evangelist of design and it’s value.

But these are only great conversations to have for anyone trying to make a living designing things (websites, posters, promotional things, logos and identity and everything I’m not mentioning). We’re forgetting that there’s another side of this, the people paying us to do the designing we love doing. It begs the question for someone trying to commission design work, looking at budgets and pricing: what value does design have for me?

I’m trying to be better at giving these kinds of answers to clients and people I’m pitching. A lot of the small business owners I talk with are interested in the bottom-line and understanding why they shouldn’t pay for a service like Fiverr or 99Designs. I never find myself thoroughly prepared to give satisfactory answers in these situations.

But I think the answer might be simpler than I might be making it. Design isn’t as much about choosing colors and lusting over typefaces (not to say that isn’t amazing) as it about making and collecting thoughts and making them tangible and sharing them with others, just like any other form of communication. It gets lost in the abstract because it can more visual than something like written communication.

That doesn’t entirely answer our question yet. When we can make thoughts about who a business is, what they do and what values they have we start to really discern the value. We can build loyalty with their audiences and customers. We can distinguish them from other businesses like them. We show the extend of which they care about communicating with their audiences/customers. We can build systems to commuicate with them better.

At the root of things, that’s design work we end up doing in one way or another and I would think that anyone would find valuable.

I’d like to find more/deeper/better answers to what value design as to those on receiving end of it, I don’t think I’ve reached it in this post. I want them to get the most value of the services I can provide. But mostly I want to understand how to provide them better.