It used to be that to call oneself a designer automatically implied certain expertise. Schooling, certification and talent were generally required — or at least implied. These days, however, anyone with a laptop, a latte and Photoshop can jump into the marketplace and don the “Designer” badge. Fonts, clip art, and royalty free stock photography available at a mouse-click mean digital creation is officially democratised. As a result, there can be some confusion over the value of design (and where that value comes from). As with most industries, a project’s value doesn’t lie in the time it took to create, or the number of colours used. It’s about the impact it has on your business—and the expertise is drawn upon to create it.
So let’s unpack the latter.
WHAT IS EXPERTISE, ANYWAY?
Graphic design may share some similarities with art, but it can be argued is a far more exacting discipline. Mastering the general guidelines and principles don’t necessarily require a doctorate, but it does take a dedicated investment of time and practice to develop a sophisticated understanding and deft application. Experts will have put in this effort.
Marketing training, as well, is an investment that allows many professional designers or agencies to elevate the quality of their offering. A poster or website may be beautiful — but if it isn’t effective in converting leads, then it’s as good as money wasted.
And lastly, of course, are the countless hours that expert designers have put into becoming fluent in their suite of software. With the complex commands often required to create even a simple illustration, software mastery is almost like becoming a musical virtuoso.
In addition to design, marketing and software training, often the best schooling is experience itself. With every project under a designer or agency’s belt comes a host of lessons learned, problems solved and efficiencies added. And those are lessons and efficiencies that will be applied to your project when the time comes — tested, if you like, on someone else’s dime.
There’s a misconception that if something can be created or revised quickly, it should be cheap. But for true professionals, it’s their expertise and experience that allows them to deliver a top-quality product with efficiency. You wouldn’t expect to pay more at a restaurant for slow service, would you?
If you've never heard the tales about Picasso and his sketches, you should look them up. In short, it goes a little like this... A woman approaches Picasso in a park, asking him to sketch her. He briefly studies her, creates her portrait in a single stroke and hands her his work of art. She gushes over the piece before asking what she owes him, to which he replies $5000. 'But it only took you a second to draw' she exclaims! Picasso replies 'Madame, it took me my entire life'.
Lastly, an expert designer or agency will be able to think big-picture. They'll see things from a different perspective, break things down and reconnect the pieces in inventive ways. They'll have a firm understanding of how small adjustments to things like colour, imagery, placement and type, will impact the way your audience behaves and they’ll consider how your project fits into the wider scope of your existing materials, business environment, and competitive landscape. As a result, an expert designer will be a true business ally.
In the end, expertise is like good design: it’s at its best when it’s nearly invisible. But that doesn’t mean it should go unnoticed. You know the old adage, “you don’t know what you don’t know?” By going with an amateur designer — or taking on a project yourself — you have no way of knowing what you’re losing out on.
The result might be fine … but will it be great?
Get in touch with the experts!