No, Design Isn’t Free, and Nor Should it Be

For many of you who may be reading this, I am about to tell you something you may not want to hear: design is not free. Nor should it be. It isn’t worth $5 either, like a certain website whose name we dare not utter around here, for fear that we may shift the axis of our world and meet our end in the fiery core of the earth.

Despite what some believe, design isn’t just sitting around and doodling or drawing some shit.


So why isn’t it free?

Even though I really feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this, I guess I am going to anyway. For starters . . .


Design is time consuming. Despite what some believe, design isn’t just sitting around and doodling or drawing some shit. We don’t use magic software that poofs design concepts into existence. There’s a lot of work involved in coming up with designs that are satisfactory to clients, industry appropriate, stylistically competitive, and acceptable to us, the designer(s). Before any of us even put a pencil to paper to get in some preliminary sketches, we need to do research. Competition, target markets, color theory, projections – a designers work is NEVER JUST about coming up with cool designs, and even if it was, the design aspect is a killer workload itself. Oh, and then there’s –


Going back to design being about more than just some drawings or doodles, there is quite a bit one must learn to be considered a designer in the eyes of the community. Save for an amateur designer here and there who bought some design software on a whim because they once drew a ‘wicked unicorn’ their family and friends told them ‘looked professional’, most designers have gone through shitloads of training to be able to crank out those amazing designs they poured their hearts and souls into in order to elevate your brand. Despite what sitcoms want you to believe, the average Jane or Joe can’t just open their beach vacation photos in a new copy of Photoshop and give themselves the muscle tone they’ve always wanted with just a few clicks of a mouse. Fiction can be fun, I know but, in this case, it simply isn’t true.



Last but certainly not least, COMMON SENSE

We all have to get up in the morning and do SOMETHING so we can pay our rent, afford Starbucks, and pay our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. I don’t have the exact percentage but studies have shown that a pretty large portion of the population feels undervalued at work – that they should at the very least – be making more money. Imagine what it would feel like if someone told you they wanted you to clean a horse stable for five bucks, or do their taxes for them gratis. Whatever your actual profession, you’d blow a gasket just thinking about how offensive the request actually was.

Why should design be any different?

When you visit a website whose design services start at $5, for instance, what you’re saying is that a design that is supposed to carry you to your hopes and dreams, should get done for less than an hour of minimum wage salary. I know, I said we don’t reference that site around here, but I’m going to anyway so sue me. I’m sure there’s a website out there where I can find legal representation for $5. I get it, EVERYTHING costs SOMETHING, right? Sometimes a lot of somethings. What I’m not saying is expect to pay a villa in Tuscany’s worth on design services, but to get a grip and be a lot more realistic about how much time you are asking a designer or design team to invest for very little or nothing.

It really is common sense.

I’ve never walked into a five star restaurant and expected to get the filet mignon for what it costs to get a burger at Wendy’s (people still go there, right?). The particular cut of beef is far superior to the other. First impressions are everything in business. Your brand is most often your first and last opportunity to tell your prospective buyers/clients that you above anyone else they’ve researched or come across in a search result, are the one they should choose. There’s a lot of weight that comes with that responsibility and most of us understand that weight. We respect the honor of being given the weight, and we’re eager to get you to where you want to go, and beyond. Sure, results can vary because taste in design is subjective. So is everything else though. There are people who wouldn’t dare touch a burger at Wendy’s because they prefer the flame broiled goodness of Burger King’s burgers. Does it mean Wendy’s burgers are any less good? Of course not. Sorry about the food analogies. I haven’t had a chance to eat at all since last night being buried in a project, so food is definitely on the brain. Imagine if this client wanted all of this done for $5!

{ Wait, I just remembered, the study said half. HALF of the Americans polled felt they were undervalued t work. }

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