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November 08, 2009



Thanks for this and the article on estimates. Really love the business stuff.

Keith Streble

With the demand for interactive work increasing while the demand for print work decreases... design shops well-versed in print are left stuck in an awkward position. They will say anything to land a project of any kind -- even if they have no idea how to do the work. This is a serious injustice to not only the client, but to all members of the creative team left scrambling to learn new technologies on top of their already-unmanageable workload.

Needless to say, a lot of print studios do not have development teams in house. This forces them to outsource the development phases of the projects to teams that have the necessary skills. This might sound fine on the surface, but in practice, the development shop will often over-promise and under-deliver on their skill-set as well. This compounds the problem because now the client has been fed 2 lines of BS instead of 1. The likelihood that the project will meet expectations and be delivered on-time and on-budget decreases at a staggering rate. This is a dangerous game.

I've personally seen 3-month projects drag to well-over 12 months... destroying profitability and taking the client relationship with it. Legal action is not unheard of, especially when e-commerce is involved. If you think not getting paid for your work is bad, imaging getting sued for 9 months of profit loss on top of that.

David is right: When bidding, try to stay within your talents as much as possible, and leave the rest for someone else! If you MUST bid, line up the necessary talent beforehand, and pad your estimate and timeline generously.

David Sherwin

Hi Keith,

Thanks for your comment—and you bring up a really, really important point.

If you're looking to leave the rest for someone else, you need someone that you trust to finish the job. It's very important that you build up a strong network of peers in your design community that have talents that support yours. That way, if you're bidding on a project that verges outside your realm of expertise, you can quickly solicit the help of a collaborator that can support you and the client through the life of the project (and ideally, beyond).

This is the best way to keep your business running. With the complexity of design projects only getting greater, it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to solve every client's need yourself and will have to get comfortable with collaborating with partners in design, UX, development, and other disciplines.

Best, David

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