Event Apart: Selling Design

by August 29, 2007

In Selling Design at An Event Apart, Jeffrey Zeldman discussed the soft skills that enable designers to get great work out in the world.

  • Most designers are happiest in front of their computer and aren’t interested in growing the soft skills needed to sell their designs.
  • It’s all about relationships: everyone has skills to build relationships. We do it with friends and family every day.
  • Endless Scope: one way to sell great work is to never stop working on the same job. Keep delivering good work until they pick a good option.
  • The client is not an idiot. They may not know about Web design but they know about other things you don’t about. Respect has to flow both ways.
  • Don’t choose idiots for clients: important to look for good clients that know where they need help.
  • Bad assignments pack a lot of paperwork. Too many requirements (wireframes, bullet points) in an RFP are a sign of trouble.
  • If you are put off by the tone of a potential client, you probably shouldn’t work with them
  • If something makes you uncomfortable about a potential client –don’t work with them
  • Urgent rush jobs mean the client did nothing for a long time and is now scrambling to get things done. This pattern will repeat itself if you take the job.
  • Build trust: make short presentations that articulate your position and experience.
  • Have a process: be methodical & calm. This helps businesses know they are dealing with fellow professionals
  • Listen to people: make sure they feel heard. Translate conversations to understand what people’s problems really are.
  • Provide continual reminders about where you are in the process. People are very busy: they need context before diving back in.
  • Our job is to convey the meaning of design. Sell ideas not pixels.