Introducing DesignBiz: Top Design Business Failures

Posted inDavid Sherwin
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Thing the Client Wants Badly

I bet you thought when you first began working as a designer, you would have uninterrupted time—full days, if not complete weeks—hunkered down at your desk, dreamily scratching away at what would become your next breakthrough creative execution.

Perhaps you work in a creative company, where the halls are ever-filled with sidebar conversations spawning reams of game-changing ideas that float their way into the layouts that grace your perfectly calibrated flat-screen monitors. Or, if you work in-house at a corporation, you’re always in full-on client service mode, prepared to triage whatever flaming arrow has just thunked its way into the wall beside your head.

But even if you work as a lone gunman, with the requisite dreamy dreams about how you’ll preserve long stretches of precious airspace for being creative, our increased connectivity and heightened need for interaction with our clients is rapidly changing the ratio of what we’d consider “billable time” as part of our paid workday.

We’ve traded some of our focus on the tangible, designed work product for the ability to manage the higher-order project details more aggressively.

We’ve been tossed more projects to juggle than ever, and are penalized more heavily when we sully one by dropping it in the dirt.

We meet spoken (and unspoken) expectations regarding quality of service, when we often don’t even realize what great client service means.

If we want to preserve the integrity and quality of what we feel is great design work, we need to cultivate not only our design practice, but our savvy as a design businessperson. I’m writing a book right now about just that, called Design Business from A to Z, which will be out in late 2012 from HOW Books. Every two weeks, I’ll be posting part of a chapter from it to Imprint, with the prefix “DesignBiz.” Please feel free to comment on the material—the best quotes and suggestions will be considered for inclusion.

If you’d like a taste of some of the content from the book, check out a recent presentation I delivered culled from the work-in-progress called “My Top 10 Design Business Failures.”