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Jeff Gardner is a business nerd. He loves spreadsheets, graphs and helping companies figure out how to perform better. He also enjoys writing, photography and being outside. You can check him out at his blog.
As a web designer, you're often forced to wear many different hats every day. You're the CEO, creative director, office manager, coffee fetcher and sometimes even janitor. That's a lot for anyone, and it certainly makes it difficult to find any time for quality creative thinking. Organization in any operation is important, and for our work as web designers it is important, too.
The good news? You don't have to have been born an organizational machine. Let's look at what being organized means and a few strategies and tips to help you clean up that messy desk and get your work ducks in a nice neat row.
What it means to be an organized person or run an organized business is commonly misunderstood. Many people equate being organized with being fussy, which is not the case. Little labeled folders and neatly itemized lists are one way to stay organized, but they are merely tactics. The heart of organization is having a strategy. Being organized is simply a matter of using clearly defined and consistently implemented systems to get things done.
Freelancers have it hard. I mean, really hard. In theory, the idea of working for yourself, of being able to choose who you work with and what you work on, sounds like the perfect job. In practice though, it’s a lot more than just working on amazing projects for amazing clients from the comfort of your own home.
There is a tremendous amount of competition out there, and a lot of it is willing to play dirty, cut-throat and underhanded to beat you to the clients. How are you supposed to get ahead of those guys? Is it even possible to earn an honest buck? Thankfully, it is possible and can be a lot easier than you think.
Marketing and its in-your-face division Advertising are all about one thing. Building brand equity. If you take away only one concept from this article, please let it be this one! In this internet fueled economy, brand strength is everything! But brand and brand equity are often misunderstood concepts, the easiest way to think about brand equity is that it’s the sum total of feelings people get when they think about your business or service. And it’s important to remember that brand equity can be positive or negative.
I’m about to make a bold statement. The quality of a design and the monetary cost of producing or procuring that design have absolutely no relationship whatsoever. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, I know. Many of you are crying foul at this very moment, but hear me out. I’ll explain my radical position – and hopefully give you a few pointers about how to more effectively price and position your design business in this brave new, and uncorrelated, world.
Quality-Price-Ratio (or QPR as it’s commonly referred to) is a concept that is used extensively in the wine trade. In it's essence it's nothing more than a measure of perceived value, of the enjoyment you receive weighed against the price you have to pay. Do you feel that the benefit your gained was worth the price you paid? If you don’t, then the product or service has a low QPR. On the other hand, if you feel like you got away with highway robbery then the product or service has a very high QPR. I'll spare you the metaphysical comparisons between wine and design beyond this one important point: There is no correlation between price and quality when discussing wine or design.
Let’s face it. Some days, you want to just fire your clients. You go through one too many comps, iterations or edits and you’ve had enough. It has happened to everyone at least once and I’d be lying if I said it won’t happen again; you get to the end of a project and realize that you would have made more per hour flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
Thankfully, as with most common problems, there are a few simple guidelines that you can follow to help make sure that you’re never working for below minimum wage.
Remember that the client will always know more about their product or service than you do. They are the expert at what they do; their problem is usually that they don’t know how to explain it well. That is where you, as the designer, step in to help. You are a graphical communications ninja, but to effectively make your, and ultimately your client’s, point you must fully understand what needs to be said.