Don’t Under Estimate The Value of Design

When I’m compiling budgets and estimates for some clients, I always cringe at having to include the design line item(s). It’s not that I don’t value or respect that part of the project, in fact just the opposite (hence this article), It’s that it seems to be the point in the budget that many clients start grumbling about first.

Not Thinking ‘Design’

The reason for this is that when my clients approach me they are thinking development, because that is what I do – not design. However, as silly as it sounds, it seems common place that clients forget that many Web projects are going to include a design component (or at least they should). As these things work, a lot of the time I am submitting estimates without knowing what the client’s target budget is (I hate that game, but it’s how things work). So many times the response is that the bid is higher than they expected and a large part of that is the design component.

Can’t We Just Put It Together Ourself’s

“Can’t we just put it together without a designer”, “just download a theme or template” or (the worst) “Just copy from …”. The answer to all these is usually yes. It’s not yes because I think that is the right answer but it is possible to do all those things and cross the design related line item off the budget or at least reduce them. Here is the catch: I promise you that the final product will most likely not live up to your expectations at the beginning of the project.

Make It Your Own

Design is a crucial part of any project and when you download a template, copy from another site or just hack it together you completely skip the part of the project where you truly make it your own. Sure you can tweak things out but without a dedicated design phase you skip a huge portion of the discovery phase, you don’t get those crucial creative review sessions and the end project almost always reflects this.

There are certainly times when a template will do or you can put something together with current assets. However if a large component of your project relies on the creative and user experience, plan to have that included in the budget. Affordability aside, you won’t regret working with a designer to create something all your own.

Post by Shane Larrabee

Shane Larrabee is founder of FatLab, LLC and has over 20 years experience as a business leader, web developer and online communication consultant.