Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes
I love working in web design. The pace of innovation and change is staggering, and the way we share information and innovate is unrivaled at any point in human history. The web breeds both collaboration and competition with people from all over the world. I believe the internet is the only true free market in the world, where information is instantaneous, and even lowly start-ups can become wildly popular overnight.
As great as it is, there is also a trend I’ve noticed recently that hurts professionals and creatives in the industry, and that is how web design is becoming a commodity in some ways. Services like automated website builders like SquareSpace and 1and1, for example, are great solutions for people just starting out and need to get some sort of Web presence. Crowdsourcing for design, again, a great solution for those just getting started, but there’s a danger of bringing that rock-bottom-price mentality to a higher level. That danger is you lose service value.
Fast forward a few years. You’ve got some experience now, and you’re realizing that you need to grow professionally. You get an interview with a much more prestigious company where the expectation is that you look your best. You want to be competitive at this new level, and your current wardrobe is old and fated; it isn’t going to work like it used to. You need new clothes for the interview. Rather than go to Wal-mart, you decide you’re going to go to Saks Fifth Avenue because you’ve heard good things.
The moment you step in the door, you’re amazed at the complete difference between Saks and Walmart. Saks smells better, looks cleaner, and it just feels more welcoming. You’re almost instantly greeted by an employee. This person approaches you with a warm smile and asks how she can help you. Rather than point you to the clothes rack, she asks you a few questions: “What are you looking for today? What sorts of events will you be going to? Do you have a preference on style?…” you get the idea. She is trying to gather the requirements for your new clothes, so she can give you expert advice.
This is actually a fair parallel for contracting a Web Design company or any client/vendor service relationship really. You may have started out with an off-the-shelf solution, and that worked for your early years. But now you’re company is ready to be a player in a big way, and you need a good looking website to showcase that. This isn’t a job for the amateur designers and dabblers. You need professionals that will listen to your needs, understand them, and present a solution that gives you what you need. That process doesn’t just happen A-B-C though. You may know what you want, but you can’t articulate it. You may try to present a solution without discussing the problem. For example, if you have to go to a black tie affair and ask for a black suit, you may never find out that you should get a Tux until you show up and realize what you have doesn’t really work. You haven’t given your creative consultant a chance to analyze the problem.
I guess my point is that there’s value in service, and really good service will challenge your notions of what you want for the purpose of giving you what you need. You hired the experts because you aren’t the expert. This seems pretty obvious in our little story. Obviously you pay more at Saks than at Wal-mart, because at the end of the day, your tangible result is a collection of cotton thread weaved together in a pattern, but it was the experts ability and willingness to find your problem and offer a solution that got you a better looking outfit.