How To Tell What Design Work Is Worth What Money

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 5:09 am Pacific USA Time.

I am getting a bunch of clients asking me to fix designs they JUST bought from so-called eBay designers and experts. Now is a great time to talk about what design is worth what money, and when you're not getting what you paid for.

A seller just came to me with a design he paid $350 for. It was a banner that was bright orange (people respond to bright orange?) with his name and a picture of one pair of shoes. The rest of his design was a cookie-cutter, multi-column layout with heaps of links. Words were spelled wrong. Rules were broken. MANY rules were broken.

And his policies make me want to cry. Typos and incorrect spellings. And this has to be my (least) favourite sentence. "Ok you won the auction we have many options to collect payment to make it easier for our customers to purchase our shoes." I disqualify that as a sentence. That's going to make the seller seem either like he doesn't speak English or like he's unprofessional.

Is that worth the money? $350 is not a lot to pay for design. That may be in your budget. But is what you're getting really worth it?

How can I tell if I'm getting what I'm paying for?

That depends on your expectations. Most designers are selling you a header, a banner of some sort. In most cases, that's going to be your name or logo, and usually a collage… one or more pictures of what you sell, stuck next to each other. And in most cases, that's really all that's going on with respect to design. You are often not getting anything else designed, and you'll typically get whatever layout they do for all their eBay or website clients.

If that is what you want, you can probably get that very inexpensively by finding college kids or workers overseas. If you don't require people who are eBay experts, website experts, marketing experts, etc…, and if you're not concerned with branding yourself, marketing, or standing out from other sellers, then this amount of "design" is good enough. You can pay VERY little for it, and if it's what you want, you will be happy.

To me, that's not design. Putting your name or logo in a banner isn't really design. Making a collage of some things you sell isn't really design. To me, design is coming up with something artistic or new or innovative, or even coming up with something that really projects your company's mood and personality. You have a company image, whether you know it or not. Design is your chance to project that image. And to me, a banner with a name and collage doesn't cut it.

What about the big companies?

Some designers tell you to copy competitors or big companies. When I look at really big companies like Sony, Best Buy, and Chipotle (owned by McDonalds), they are using design all over the page to give you a feeling about something. They don't stop at the top. They are using warm colours, friendly faces, or recurring themes. Not everything is about a line at the top with buttons.

Big companies are changing how they do website design. And they care about design. They'll work for months on this stuff, and have focus groups reporting what they think. Look at what they come up with. Do they come up with a bland banner and collage, and then a white page with columns and endless words? Does SONY just show a bunch of their products next to each other?

Take a page from what big companies are doing. If something really plain is right for you, you can get it for $50. If you care about branding, marketing, being memorable in a good way, and projecting an image, then you need something better. Of course, I recommend us. :) We've been doing design and marketing for online sellers since 1995.

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Categories: Just An Observation

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