I first discovered Niki & The Dove as a recommended artist on Spotify a couple of months ago. Now, they have an amazing album called Instinct, with this dynamic gem topping the track list.
Much is written about digital agencies and the difference between the types of projects they aspire to attract, and the types they can realistically attract. But what is it that causes an agency to get stuck in a vicious circle of attracting bad projects?
I’m being careful, here, and ensuring upfront that it’s clear I am talking about projects, and not clients. The reason is that it isn’t always the fault of the client when a project turns sour. It can be a mixture of things from poor communication to misunderstanding the brief. But sometimes it can seem that, when you work for an agency, you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of projects that don’t end up how you want them to.
Being a designer, my brain works in pixels, colours, hierarchy and information architecture. The clients for whom I work in my agency role do not think like that, or at least not to the degree I do. But I want to briefly question why it is that projects can sometimes turn bad. When does it start? Are these projects doomed from the outset, or is does something happen during the planning or design process? Who’s fault is it?
I read an article today that spoke of the etiquette to which one must adhere in a co-working environment—I guess that’s American for a ‘shared office’—and I caught myself thinking…what else, in a creative office, do you have to watch out for?
As with any office environment, the mix of persons who each has his or her own values and expectations creates some problems, along with the many collaborative benefits it brings. I do think, though, that in the workplace, a lot of people seem to have a different standpoint compared to when they are at home, which can be a big problem. For example, a guy might leave the toilet seat up where at home he would always put it down. Or he might not clean up his mess after having made coffee where at home, clearly, he’d wipe it up.
Put simply, if everybody does one thing a day to help improve the work environment for their colleagues, they might be rewarded with similar etiquette and respect themselves.
I work for a web agency, and we share our office with another company in a similar field. To be honest, I think it makes little difference that the office space is shared. All it does is add more people to the mix. The only difference it might make is that it makes it easier to place blame for messiness, or for loudness, or something else considered undesirable. But everybody’s guilty of one or two office faux-pas.
What is it about the web design industry and web designers that causes our clients to place such little value in the work we do? Is it our clients’ fault or is it something that we are doing wrong?
Clearly it isn’t every client who has little respect for and appreciation of web design. On the contrary, the majority of clients I have dealt with and continue to deal with are lovely and are able to see me and the team with whom I work as professionals like any other.
But those who don’t seem to appreciate the field do seem to stand out. You know the story, as a web designer. You’ve sent off a visual to a client and they’ve come back with amendments they’d like you to make. As I mentioned above, most of the time you’d be happy to make these changes, but in some cases the client is simply unreasonable.
Working for an agency—as opposed to a company, or for oneself—does present certain challenges. As a web designer you have particular ethics and evangelical mantras surrounding standards, usability and user experience. But when the client requests a change that goes against that, you have to balance their needs with yours. Of course, there are times when there is synergy here, and your needs and the client’s needs equal the needs of the end user of the product.
However, there are also times when there is no such harmony. The client’s needs are, in your professional opinion, ignorant and counter productive. Your needs, as a professional, are equal to the needs of the end user. In theory, anyway.
These kind of clients will always exist. The trouble comes when you also have to throw the needs of your agency into the mix. You really want to tell the client all of the reasons they are wrong, and that you should be creating an epic product for their end users (and your portfolio), but you can’t go too far, because the agency wants (or even needs) to keep the client.
So what is it about web design as a whole that commands such little respect and appreciation amongst some people?
We should be cool and modern because it helps us to push our brand, but also helps us to stand out from the crowd.