Speck Work do clients really understand why speck Work harms their business as well as harming the designer producing it.
Is there a way to educate and advise clients on how to find the perfect design match. First Let’s be sure we all understand what Spec work really is, the quote below explains it nicely
This type of work is widely considered undesirable and immoral by the design community, as it requires the designer to commit time and resources to a project with the chance of getting nothing in return. While a client may feel they don’t want to invest money until seeing some work, designers should not have to prove their worth to get a job. Instead, clients should choose a designer based on their portfolio and experience and commit to building a working relationship with him or her. Only then will both the client and designer see the best results.
Let’s look at this issue from every angle, I am hearing of more and more clients and employers expecting designers to produce designs before any contract or job has been signed or offered. This increase seems to be a by-product of the recession. Jobs and clients are becoming harder to find and everyone is having to compete for every scrap of work.
Every client that I have ever interacted with come to me with an idea of what they were looking for. Usually they are looking for their idea to be professional produced and developed. Sounds good, so where do things start to go wrong. Could the problems start when budgets get tight and clients get worried about risk, clients are always taking a risk commissioning design work. Could their answer to this be to get designers to deliver before any real risk has been taken. This all sounds great, a master plan from the clients prospective. How can designers educate clients on the downsides of this new found way of working? Picture this, the dream client we have all heard of them they come with a respect for the design profession, an understanding of how design adds value, willingness to learn and a knowledge of how buying design works. Is there a way we can we help transform every client into this perfect model?
Help is out there
The design community has some great resources for educating clients on Speck Work.
- I won’t do free design work to win your business – here’s why
- AIGA position on spec work
Industry leaders also have voiced their opinions on Spec work
I recently came up against this from a prospective client –
Just to give you a heads up other potential employees have put together a mock site
and others have already redesigned our logo just to show potential.
In the clients defense all they were doing was letting me know what other people were doing in order to gain an advantage over their competition. Just to set the scene, this was only the second time I had spoken to the potential client, they had already viewed my portfolio and assessed my experience.
This left me with three options.
- 1. Do I take up the challenge and get involved in this type of engagement?
- 2. Do I try and educate the client?
- 3. Do I remove myself form the running?
If I went for option one I would have to get involved with producing work before I truly understood the clients needs and also before the client had committed to any contract or payment. For all of the reasons above I didn’t think this was the best option for me or the client. I then moved on to option two. How could I make the client see that designers producing work without clear goals and a true understanding of their services would only produce something that would be visually pleasing to the eye but would not be solving any of their real business problems. I took up the challenge of trying to give the client the knowledge to confidently understand how to commission designers. I gave the client an overview of Speck Work as I was unsure of how aware the client was of Speck Work, this also contained some of the links shown above. I outlined my views on why designers are producing design work without a clear understanding of their services and why this would not be very beneficial to them in the long run.
On this occasion my approach did not change the clients view on things. I am not sure why, did the client just not have the time to read over the information I sent over or did they need further explanations and examples. It might have been that I was not clear enough with my explanation. My suspicions are that it might have been a combination of everything and the influence of seeing their ideas in reality was to great a pull. And who can blame them I see a similar behavior when I work with new
designers they are desperate to produce something visual. Diving into Photoshop or designing within the browser before they truly understand the problem they are trying to solve.
Sadly I was only left with the last option. I removed myself from being considered. This was a very hard decision to make I was walking away from a job that promised riches and short term security. But I had to look at things in the long term, producing designs without understanding the real business needs will always end in dissatisfaction as they will not be solving real life problems. I always try and keep this quote in mind when I have to walk away from a potential job
I know that the clients I want to work with are the ones who understand the value of design and respect me as a professional.