19 comments

  • Jeremy TreudenJeremy Treuden, almost 6 years ago

    This is a pretty great way of showing this concept applied to the rest of the business world.

    It's very similar to the conundrum of why clients seem to think they know how to do your job (if it's design related) better than you can. For example, you do mounds of research and testing and then present 2, solid, well-founded design solutions to the client. Their response: "well, what if we do it more like this, and then we added this thing, and then changed this button to red to make it pop more, and then made our logo bigger, and then we added some more fonts to make it less boring... or, better yet, maybe we could just smash both of your initial concept together to make it the best of both worlds".

    You don't give your surgeon advice. And when you go get your car fixed, you don't tell the mechanic all the various ways you would have done things, if you were them, after they are finished fixing the car. And after you get your cavity filled by your dentist, you don't suggest 7 things that you would they should have done differently. If you can tell them all of that, you should have probably just done it yourself. Why do people feel like they can do that with design? Especially when it's evident that the things they are suggesting are not founded in any sort of experience or data?

    I know, I know; we need to educate our clients. But even an entire-day-long meeting worth of in-depth education can't teach someone how to be an expert dentist or mechanic... and the same goes for comprehensive design solutions. When it comes down to it, the client cannot be the expert. They just can't. There simply isn't enough time for that, even if I wish that there was.

    I'd like to see a video showcasing this principle / conundrum as well. Could be done in a similar style / way.

    Essentially, what I'm saying is the exact same thing as this video showcases--clients need to trust designers with their expertise like they trust their dentist or surgeon.

    11 points
    • Marc Olivier LapierreMarc Olivier Lapierre, almost 6 years ago

      Well said. If only the agency I work at could understand this very simple principle. But unfortunately, if the client says something, he's right and we have to do it his way, even if we know it will have an impact on the final result. Which made me care a lot less about projects and I had to stop investing myself so much because otherwise I always end up depressed.

      3 points
    • Alex ChanAlex Chan, almost 6 years ago

      The Expert

      2 points
    • Daniel De LaneyDaniel De Laney, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

      That works great if the designer actually is an expert and does know everything necessary to solve the problem at hand.

      The reality is that designers' competencies vary widely. There are many who know approximately none of the things you just described. They're front end developers who read an article on color theory once, and on that basis call themselves designers.

      2 points
      • Joseph KeenanJoseph Keenan, almost 6 years ago

        Doesn’t that kinda hold true for any of the professions in the video? I feel like I’ve eaten a few mediocre breakfasts and still paid full price for them. If was going to go to a personal trainer I’d probably ask my friends for recommendations first, but I’d still pay the guy I went to, and would most likely stick with him, trusting that I’m in good hands and my company brand/ body would be improved in the process. Hopefully learning a thing or two along the way.

        6 points
      • Jeremy TreudenJeremy Treuden, almost 6 years ago

        Very true! And, yeah, it's easy to get wrapped up in the "I'm the designer" mindset--a mindset that is usually not very helpful, might I add :)

        However, I certainly would never call myself an elite, hall-of-fame, superstar designer. But I would hope that I would be respected as a knowledgable designer with years of training and practice honing those skills.

        And I would not expect my dentist to be one of the other greatest dentists in the country. I simply know and respect that he/she has more knowledge that I do in that field than I do. They may have not written their dissertation on cavities, but I trust that they can do a better job filling them than can.

        Whether you're an expert or not, you are hopefully (and I do say hopefully) more experienced and versed in design than the average client. Again, if they were more knowledgable in the field than you, they should / could have just done it themselves.

        0 points
    • John PJohn P, almost 6 years ago

      or, better yet, maybe we could just smash both of your initial concept together to make it the best of both worlds".

      This is why you never present more than one concept

      0 points
      • Jeremy TreudenJeremy Treuden, almost 6 years ago

        I totally agree. And I wish that presenting only one concept was acceptable in all scenarios. However, it not always is -- especially when depending on bosses, managers, clients, scope, etc. -- things that you cannot always influence / change.

        0 points
    • David James, almost 6 years ago

      When a client chooses a designer to work with, typically the cost is greater than a coffee or a meal out so it's understandable that they would seek assurances. I typically get a test drive before I buy a car - if I'm paying to get an event catered, I'll expect some free samples

      Providing a complete solution to client on spec is wrong for many reasons, but you do need a way to assure a client that you can do the work to a standard - you can't just demand that level of trust from the get go

      Surgeons do very different types of jobs and I bet plenty of people offer their own ideas to a mechanic of what's wrong with their car and how much they expect to pay for it

      1 point
      • Jeremy TreudenJeremy Treuden, almost 6 years ago

        David, this is a great point! Like you said, the solution could be as simple as finding an elegant way to provide / present past examples of your work and various case-in-point findings. I would hope that one's portfolio and case studies do a fair enough job of communicating this, but that is not always the case. I agree, comparing surgeons to designers is a bit extreme. I like your points about the catered event and buying a new car. Good thoughts there!

        0 points
  • Ed AdamsEd Adams, almost 6 years ago

    Sweet. I was already saying no to speculative work. Now I can use the "Do you do what you do for free? No? Then why do you want me to?"

    7 points
  • Beth RBeth R, almost 6 years ago

    This was perfect!

    2 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, almost 6 years ago

    Monteiro's "Design is a Job" covered this topic really well.

    1 point
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, almost 6 years ago

    I've never worked at an agency so I'm actually curious to know how prevalent spec work is? I know clients will sometimes ask for a freebie in exchange for "exposure" or "more work in the future", but is it that common for people to actually go for it?

    1 point
  • Pedro Moreira da SilvaPedro Moreira da Silva, almost 6 years ago

    The way most people perceive the work that is done in this industry (process and output) is a mix of many factors. However, I think it's mostly because of the “professionals” themselves and the consumer society we live in.

    Yes, I could argue that vision is our dominant sense, and because the output of our work is usually visual, most non-designers believe that everything there is to know about the work is right there in front of them. That people tend to look at design work in the same way as they were taught to look at art or any other kind of visual expression that lends itself to individual taste. But the truth is: when people buy something, they don't think about the work behind the clothes, the cars, the digital devices, etc., they just think if it's visually appealing or not, if it has “design” in them or not — because that's what the market wants them to think, they want to dumb down people's choices, to make it easy and fast to buy, to leverage our dependence on vision and buzz-words.

    Ultimately, we are responsible for the way people perceive our industry. Do we really want to perpetuate the notion that “design” is a product “feature”? How do you feel about resuming your work to a bullet point?

    0 points
  • Zach ReedZach Reed, almost 6 years ago

    This brought my tears of joy. TEARS. OF. JOY.

    0 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    I’m not sure if all these metaphors to the medical profession are apt, but - one thing is for sure.

    Spec work, especially in the world of digital product design, that’s a signal to runnnnnnnnnn away.

    Spec: The Design as Decoration Dog & Pony Show

    It’s a signal that you’re dealing with a design as decoration mindset. “Show me your campaign ideas and what will look good!

    It’s a signal that stakeholders will be playing armchair designer, and they’ll “know it when they see it” - as designers chase their tails and take stabs in the dark.

    Spec is often a way to offload and defer the critical thinking of design whereby everyone sits back and reacts to a superficial interpretation, rather than the deep thinking and debate of design.

    And, it’s a ruse whereby stakeholders think they are going to “get all the best ideas” - yeahhhh, and bolt them together into a Frankenstein Design.


    A lot of agencies are still playing the spec game, because frankly, they have no clue how to sell design, let alone talk about it in a contemporary manner.

    And many playing that old spec game always appear to be fist to mouth or design is a line item in larger budgets.

    0 points
  • alie mina, almost 6 years ago

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    0 points