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October 25, 2020

The Difference Between Great and Shit Designers

Julie Ross Myers

Creative professionals often talk about nightmare clients. But what about nightmare creative professionals?

Shit designers are slap-dash and careless

I’ve spent the last three months dealing with a very talented designer who is also one of the worst designers I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. For all her talent she is sloppy to the point of disbelief. As they say, the devil is in the details. Great designers pay attention to details. They think through a job and things like production costs before they turn on their laptops. Working with a truly professional graphic designer is a joy for the rest of the team and the clients. Working with a careless designer is hell.

Shit designers don't read the copy

The great designer will read the copy and create a design that gives depth and greater nuance of meaning to the text. The shit designer treats the copy like a design element. The shit designer thinks it’s fine to design a whole brochure with fake text, otherwise known as Lorem Ipsum. The great designer knows this makes about as much sense as furnishing the house before it’s been built.

Shit designers depend on the client to catch errors

A shit designer can have a nice review system, like Adobe Xd. But someone still needs to review the designs and make corrections. A shit designers will expect the client to make any and all corrections, page-by-page. If, for example, the client asks for pill-shaped CTA buttons, the shit designer will change one (on the page annotated by the client) and ignore the rest. The good designer will go the extra step and apply the change throughout the website.

Shit designers cost more on the back end

Great designers think about money. Not just their own money, but the client’s money too. A good designer will think about how to save money using their knowledge of web design or print design.

Going back to the talented-but-crapola designer I spoke of, she was hired to revise an existing ecommerce site. She made so many usability errors, it was easier to start from zero with a different designer. If a website is designed with poor UX, the client will lose sales or readership. A good web designer avoids usability errors and will have game plan for launching efficiently. The faster the website can launch, the faster the client can begin making sales.

We decide to move the shit designer to print projects and hire a new web designer. Her talent had saved her. But the sloppiness and lack of detail continued. She created a mailing box that cost over $2 to produce and failed to provides alternatives. It was up to the client to find a cheaper option, in this case a shipping box instead of a die-cut mailing box. The shipping box was $1 less to produce with no loss of visual impact or brand quality.

Shit designers can't estimate a big project

I should've known something was wrong when the designer wanted to bill the website redesign on an hourly basis. She did not know how to determine the scope of the project, although the brief was clear. The client would've paid for work that was out-of-scope. But the designer did not know enough about web design to provide a creative budget for the site.

A great designer – or just a professional one – will give you a clear breakdown of costs with milestones. Items that are not included, like stock photos and retouching, are identified. The client has an outline of responsibilities and can see where slow approvals will hold up website design.

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