Cut and run design has no value

by Chris Vogel

Just last week I was at a party where a friend of a friend asked me: “What do you charge for a design?” After giving him a rather long-winded answer that didn’t seem to satisfy him, he said that he could just as well go to one of those site-overnight services and get a brand (in his definition the combination of logo, business card and website) for a couple hundred bucks.

Are we ripping people off?

Not really, and here’s why: An automated or templated design lacks two things that can only be accomplished by a trained, experienced professional.  The first is best practices in modern aesthetic – in other words it looks clean and attractive but I don’t know why. A true designer spends unreasonable amounts of time researching current trends and soaks up emerging innovations like a sponge. He/she is also intimately familiar with what was done 1, 3, 5 and 10 years ago and therefore understands the effect of time.

You’re unique. No really.

The second thing absolutely essential to any design that cannot be substituted by a machine or a process is capturing unique personality. A design can only be considered good if it conveys what the subject matter is about without using words to describe it. I’m not saying people should be able to know the details about a product just by looking at it, but they should be able get the feeling it is attempting to evoke. The only way a designer can effectively deliver such emotions is by understanding not only the client, product or service but also the mission, attitude, target customer and most importantly: differentiation–the one thing that makes it special.