What an inspiring country I was born in! No, seriously, I realized how much I see clearly after having to explain why I can’t just “do my thing” and come up with a logo or else. Or why something like this <insert photo> is just plain BAD. Now every time someone ask me to create something for them I try to think like a doctor (I have a fascination with medical practitioners, thanks to House):
- Determine the problem by asking the right question (until now I think I’ve been a pediatrician),
- Research in order to come up with a diagnosis (even House does it) and try to find the best viable option to cure my patient’s illness,
- I propose the different choices of treatment (It’s called patient autonomy)
- Then we proceed with the one chosen.
There are a lot of advantages in thinking and explaining it to client that way. One of them is avoiding spec work (click here if you don’t know what that is) and another one is making the process smoother for yourself. When you approach everything in a problem-solution state of mind you avoid the temptation of just making things look pwetty, your design end up objective, focused, message oriented. Every single element answers effectively to the question WHY? When you break or follow the rules, choose an unorthodox color, typeface etc.
It also justifies the cost you charge. Most of the time if you approach design in a “I get in front of my computer (or whatever tool you use) and get inspired” way, the final result comes out quick, if you know how to overcome inspiration blocks, pretty, if you are really good with your tools, but hardly ever answer your clients best interest, and because he, unfortunately, put food on your plate, it hardly answer yours. Your predefined process will include the time you spend researching, the development of different ideas and the execution. When you quote your client include everything, the time you spend researching, the different concept he turned down, the time it took you to execute the idea, every single extras he asked you to add, if you had to take photos, to create an illustration etc. makes sure you all agree on what cost what before you even start anything, that means somewhere at the diagnosis state. It also makes you realize how different it is to work for NIKE’s t-shirts designs and to work for your neighbor’s birthday party t-shirts.
So next time you have a commission, think, act and charge Dr House, nothing more nothing less.