web design

You Get What You Pay For. Good Design Takes Time and Costs Money.

I apologize in advance. I’m on a bit of a rant this morning.

In the last  month I have been doing quite a bit more freelance. At the suggestion of a friend I signed up for an online service that  sends you job leads and allows you to bid on the perspective jobs in order to build your business. On average I receive about 15 requests a day. You’re probably thinking “Not bad, I could make a living if I only got 1 or 2 jobs from the list”. The problem is 85 to 90 percent of the leads are complete crap. And I mean crap in the sense that the people requesting work are clueless about what it takes to do the work and get anything worth their time.

A large portion of the people requesting work want to pay less than $500.00 per assignment,  and act as though they are doing you a favor because you’ll have a more stuff to add to your portfolio when you are done. I sort of get that, but what I don’t get is what most of these people expect for a couple of hundred dollars and a whole lot of time.

If you are a non-graphic design professional, animator, web designer, illustrator, writer, etc. you need to read this and get a clue about what it takes to get quality work. It takes more than 500 bucks. Your designer needs more than 24 hours. You need to know how to spell and articulate a complete sentence when selling your request. And you need to understand that high quality design takes time and money. You wouldn’t nickel and dime the guy working on your car, your electrician, the guy that does your taxes, your doctor, dentist, lawyer, or other professional services, so why the creative that is going to help you look great.

Design, Graphic Design, Animation, Illustration, Photography,Web Design, Copywriting, Video Production, and all creative endeavors take time, and money. The quality skills  that your design professional has honed, didn’t just happen over night. They are highly tailored and polished skills that deserve the same amount of respect as any other professional service. We don’t just draw pictures. There is a whole lot of thinking behind what we do, and a whole lot of skill required to do it right.

In addition to what I just said, if you want me to bid on your job learn to use spell check. Gain control of the English language. Learn to write a coherent sentence, and think about what you are asking for before submitting your request to one of these online services. Like the unrealistic time and money constraints most of these requests have, most of the requesters submit items that read as though they were written by individuals that have no clue. If you want any real design professional to take you seriously, you need to learn how to write a proposal without spelling and grammar errors.

A realistic proposal that doesn’t low ball the talent and make your design professional walk away from your job. To show you what I mean, I have a series of requests that were in my email inbox this morning. All of these jobs are for less than 500 bucks. All of the requesters are pretty much clueless. None of these are edited. Just copied and pasted into this post as is.

“I need someone to do a Flyer like representation of a Webpage. Using the photo files and someone who can design this in photo shop. I also need some royalty free images that I can use for icons submitted to me as a part of this job.” Right because for 500 bucks or less I can do some “photo shop” work and buy you royalty free stock images.

“I would like to start a production company music, film and photography 25% of all profit goes to Ifaw animal rescues, and breast cancer foundations , I’ll need a crew of professional photographers a video crew and music producers along with account manager s and business reps to help run and handle finances and payment to employees.” Hey will you do everything for me. I have this idea and I want to make money, but I need everyone else to do the work.

“Looking for someone to design 5 animation pieces that I can use on an html/css scripted webpage. I can write the script to add the pieces where I want. I’d like the pieces to be separate files that I can upload somewhere to link to my webpage. I’m guessing gifs? Each piece around 200px by 200px not strict size because each one would of course need to have different dimensions to accommodate the animation. 1) Squirrel with a gold crown, red/white cape, holding a gold scepter. With some sort of fitting slight movement such as raising the scepter. 2) A squirrel with an over the shoulder pouch full of acorns. Animation of crouching down and gathering more acorns with a greedy looking facial expression. Movement from right to left. 3) A squirrel with a silver helm and silver armor pointing a sword with one hand out and leading a bunch of smaller squirrels marching with spears. 4) A bearded squirrel in a robe doing alchemy at a table at first facing away. Animation turning around and flashing a wicked smile before turning back around to work. 5) Last one of a noble looking squirrel with a white and black cape standing in a superman pose. Squirrel from 2, 3, and 4 kneeling in front of him.” Seriously?

“we need a web site built that will be ahead of its time…. you must know word press were building a sales and auction site plus much more” So informative. I can jump right in on this based on the information you just gave me.

“Need a creative mixtape cover for a Mixtape BY Nam The name of the mixtape Jugger’s & Finesser’s The artist name and the title of the mixtape need to be in the pictures” People still make mix-tapes?

“Create prints for kids clothing. Should be up to date. unique. We will provide the inspiration you do the work. We need to be efficient. HAve to fit into the brand image” They provide the inspiration, you do the work…

“The Rappers name is NAM So ideas on the logo is something to do with monkey’s Skulls T-rex But most the logo has to be the name of the rapper in a unique creative way” Say what?

“I have written a musical play, and I need an artist, who can create pin and ink drawings to illustrate the scenes in the play. I require approximately 40 pin & ink drawings to be done.” Wow, “Pin” and ink is my specialty.

“Need a designer to create digital flyers for our upcoming Nightclub events. Job description is as follows: Uses knowledge of current graphic design software to produce graphic art and visual materials for promotions, advertisements, films, packaging, and informative and instructional material through a variety of media outlets such as websites and CD-ROMs. Generates and manipulates graphic images, animations, sound, text and video into consolidated and seamless multimedia programs.” Yes for 500 bucks or less you want design, animation, video editing, typography all in an ongoing seamless  multimedia package.

“I need to redo the images, pics and icons in the app to a more professional look. This app has multiple themings that it supports but the graphic files are usually in white background. There is a limited number of image/icon files in the app that are used.” What the hell is a ‘theming”?

“Have video footage that needs to be turned into 3 different trailers. Slick production quality is a must.” Not a problem. I’ll just use the “Slick” Plugin for After Effects.

Not every request I get via email are like the ones above. I have actually gotten some work from sites like Outsource. These aren’t even the worst examples. I’ve thrown out so many emails in the last couple of weeks that make these look good by comparison. It is a fairly solid representation though of how people perceive the visual design business. It’s always been this way, most folks just don’t get what goes into producing quality design work. For whatever reason I thought things had changed over the last decade with the huge rise in design awareness and all the press design had been getting. Apparently not. I’ll leave you with this, it’s one of my faves.

“I have written a children’s book. I need 250 illustrations plus the cover. I want a watercolor look to them in a realistic style similar to Norman Rockwell. Along with each of the lustrations I will need about 75 to 100 of them animated since this will be released as an eBook for the iPad. You will need to produce muzic and sound effects for each of the anima tions as well. I on a quuick turn around. I need all these done by July 10 or 11. If you are successful candidate I wil ned you to design and build a website to promote my book. I have 100 dollers for the website work.” All this for less than 500 bucks. Yeah right.


Design Trends for 2015.

Wish you had a crystal ball to help you predict future design trends for 2015? So do I, but since I don’t I have turned to a number of sources on the web to help figure that out. While doing a little research last night I came across this infographic from Coastal Creative that does a pretty good job of attempting to predict what last years trends will evolve into. Coastal feels that larger photography, background video, better type, and semi flat design will lead the way, and I agree. Thanks to improved bandwidth, smartphones, and emerging technologies, I could see any of the predictions below holding fast or continuing to grow over the next 12 months.


Webydo and Parallax for You.

Parallax scrolling has been making waves for a couple of years in the interactive design community. Even if you don’t build interactive content, websites, or mobile apps you have probably come in contact with a parallax scrolling site or application. Building this kind of interactive experience has real pay-off with extended audience engagement, but unless you have a really solid team of coders, it can also be a daunting task. This is where  Webydo steps in with its new Parallax Scrolling Animator  software that is currently in a closed beta. The link above will take you to the site where you can sign up to join the beta test and help shape the final outcome of this code-free design tool.


Now, before you say the whole parallax thing has jumped the shark, think again. It’s here to stay. I agree that the problem with it is, that it has been overused as the hot new look, and more often than not it has been done badly. I also agree that there are issues with speed, mobile implementation, and SEO, but it isn’t going away, so Webydo might make your life a bit easier, and your results a lot better.

As Zack Rutherford points out in UX Magazine. Paralax has a certain wow factor and gives designers an opportunity to push interactive design in some exciting directions if done right. With Webydo making parallax available to its users there is hopefully a chance for less bad parallax, and more well designed rich interactivity..

“Be Moved”. Sony USA’s Dynamic Media Marketing Site.

Sony has pulled out all the stops in their latest marketing effort. “Be Moved” is a fully integrated campaign, for Sony USA, features a deep dive website that is filled with rich dynamic media, cutting edge CSS tricks, and plenty of content. The visitor is encouraged to explore through vertical scrolling that reveals heavy CGI models of product that self assemble from exploded models, big budget video production, and engaging editorial. Each section has hooks to social media for specific product, and each video is featured on the Sony channel on YouTube helping to extend engagement and branch reach across channels. If you have the time take a look at the site and really dig around. It’s a great example of where interactive content is going.


Using CSS to Recreate Logos.

All you web monkey’s and CSS junkies out there, check this out. Just for fun, as a weekend project, Brian Chan decided to recreate a number of corporate logos and identities using nothing but CSS. I have to say, “Color me impressed”. I am by no means the designer you want writing your code, but I am really impressed with the way these look. On his site there are more examples, and the source code if you care to take a peak. You can see it all here the bchanx site.

CSS Logos

Adobe’s Edge Tool Set in Five Minutes.

If you are a web designer or developer. If you make interactive content for websites, mobile and tablet based applications, you should familiarize yourself with Adobe’s Edge Tools and Services.

If you don’t know about them watch the short five minute video below, then go over to the Adobe site and dig a little deeper. With each release these tools get better, easier to use, and the quality of what they output improves.

Adobe has a major stake with this tools set, and I guarantee that if you do this kind of work, you’ll probably be using these in the near future in some capacity.

Are You Typecasting? You Should Be.

If you aren’t using Typecast in your web design process, you should really check it out. I use Typecast on pretty much all of my freelance work, because it helps me do a better job of designing, and meeting my clients goals and needs. If you are unfamiliar with Typecast and what it can do with Web Fonts, watch the video below. It might change the way you think about web design.

“Because we built Typecast with CSS under the hood, updating web designs is a whole lot easier than updating .PSD’s and Comps.”  True, true, true.