Success By Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers
Success By Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers by David Sherwin and published by How Books is a title made for any up and coming designer or student and is just one of those titles that every professional wish they read at the start of their careers to save them a lot of hassle. Littered with wisdom and a casual yet informative tone Success by Design should become your primer on how to combine your existing design knowledge and skill and start forming and establishing client relationships and then of course start making some money as well!
Considering Success by Design’s weight one would think it is pretty full on, however it is actually fairly simplistic and each section is fairly brief. For the graphic-hearted you shouldn’t be intimidated by this title, for a theoretical book it is actually really nicely presented and there is absolutely no assumed knowledge; anyone can pick this up. Success by Design provides good strategic advice but it really is an entry point to the essential tools and tactics to run a successful design business. Part of the reason behind the steady read of this title is the collequial and casual language used, and the often question and answer format makes it work well as a reference tool as one can easily find specific areas. Some of the sections include:
- Business Development
- Negotiation, Expectations and Discounts
- Project Management
- Estimating and Budgeting
- Money and Hourly Rates
- Legal matters and Confidentiality
- Design Briefs and Deliverables
- Meetings and Presentations
- Competition and Strategy
- Time sheets
Although I mentioned it is absolutely ideal for students, professionals should never discount the value of a title like this. Even by merely reading over the headings it can be a timely reminder to ensure you are hitting home-runs in all sides of your business or professional practice. From sales, marketing, budgeting and finance it is important to ensure everything is in check.
One example of this for me personally was the importance of receiving feedback from clients. Often this task can seem quite daunting, especially if the project didn’t go to smoothly. Client feedback is one of the most time-consuming aspects of design as you strive to get to the final agreed upon concept. How should you respond to their feedback, how should you deal with their ambiguoities – all this is tackled in Success by design. Even for these poor projects this is when it is most important to get this feedback to show your clients that yes you are listening and you want to improve and I think a client would really appreciate this, even if it is just a nice gesture.
The knowldge on contracts like what clauses should be in design clauses is great information and should almost be compulsory reading for all freelancers. I also appreciated the information, or rather warning, not to do spec work, that is, pitch work as it is commonly referred to here in Australia. Pitch work being developing designs to try and win a tender without being paid and how that can devalue the design industry and make it harder to make a living. It also talks about how to deal with discounts, that is, what do you do when a client or a friend asks for a discount, under what conditions should you permit a discount and when should you flat out refuse it. Another brilliant section is where David Sherwin discusses pricing models. As designers how should we price ourselves, by the hour, include expenses, by the month etc. etc. Sherwin discusses the pro and cons of each of these pricing models and shows how they can be applicable to different types of designers.
Fortunately there are no considerable negatives about this title, it is a very informative read. For people who love pictures of crazy designs this isn’t the book for you; it is unnecessary for this book to have designs, but rather professionally illustrated diagrams that are fun and visually engaging. There are a couple of typos throughout which I rarely see these days, but still it doesn’t cause a distraction.
All in all Success by Design is a fantastic book especially for sole traders/freelancers/contract workers. I absolutely recommend it to any design student and professional who wants to ensure all systems are ticking along ok. I am positive that no matter who you are, no matter how successful you might be, you will get something out of Success by Design.