How Would You Like Your Graphic Design? Fast, Cheap, or Great. Pick Two.

February 20, 2015

If you’re in the Design industry or are study to one day enter it, then you’ve probably seen the poster I’ve used on the cover of this blog post. Or, you have heard of this kind of client mentality when it comes to project management.


In a society that seems to moving faster and faster every day and one where we are granted access to almost anything imaginable, there seems to be a developing mindset where: we see something that looks great, we should be able to have it for almost no money and in the blink of an eye.


As designers, whether we’ve heard stories or have even experienced that client mentality for ourselves, I believe we can all agree that ‘Fast, Cheap AND Great’ is a near impossible goal that sets any project up for failure. Yes, the project can look great, yes, the project can be delivered in a reasonable amount of time, yes the project can stay on budget, but achieving all three? Really?


If you don’t need your project to look like it was designed by Pentagram or Sagmeister & Walsh, then the project might not cost as much money, but it would still take time to put together a proper design that solves the problem at hand. If you want your project to look great AND happen quickly, then be prepared to hemorrhage money in order to make that a possibility. Even then, time constraints could lead to compromises, as the design process is incredibly important in order to solve the problem. If you want your project done quickly and with a shoestring budget, then… well… you get what you pay for. General Motors, an automotive conglomerate, followed that project management mentality. They lost money every year for over 20 years, laid off thousands and thousands of employees and then filed for bankruptcy.


Yes, it’s sometimes possible to build your dream design for $ 50 and a few mouse clicks. But again, you get what you pay for and it creates a mindset that fosters failure if you want something more. Something that can only come with process, knowledge and patience.


This is why good designers are worth their weight in gold. They’re able to make decisions on whether or not a solution will work, without even having to execute it. It’s also important for clients to trust designers – this is incredibly important – on not just making something look good, but also having to go through the process of solving their problem.


Crowdsourcing websites, spec work and other DIY resources don’t help in terms of reversing this mentality where someone can pay $ 10 for a logo or a website.


Anything that is worth having is a process. Embrace it. Throw away the ‘perfectionist’ mentality, quit micromanaging, let out a longer leash for your designer(s) and watch the results take shape. The reward is getting a project that could possibly be better than what you were expecting while still mirrors your values and best of all, you get to enjoy it for a long time.

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