ReachForThe…AlcoholOctober 14, 2010
The hashtag to use for this weeks IMD tweets is #reachforthestars. The lecture for this week gave me a good kick up the backside though, as I wasn’t in the right gear for getting work done. The @Standardistas told us what they expect from our final year projects. To be honest, I had been expecting it, but just not so soon. Before running through what might work and what might not for a final project, Chris announced that a woman wanted a website with all the razzle dazzle of the day for a mere £300. She wanted a fully functional, standards compliant site with CMS and blog for £300. To be honest, I was quite taken aback by this figure. Are my skills really worth that little? Will I come out of the course and be making great websites for such a low cost?
As soon as I heard the number, I knew it was far too low and it scared me a bit that people think a substantial project like this is possible for that price. They expect it. Sure throw a site up on the web and I’ll give you a few hundred. Should be simple they think. Should only take a few days. WRONG! If you want a website that doesn’t use tables and look like it’s from the nineties, it will take a lot longer to design and code, thus increasing the cost. Alternatively you could get something like this for £50, sound effects not included.
Thinking About Rates
This got me thinking though, how valuable is my time and how do I value my work? A three part mini series from davidairey.com got me thinking. The article includes interviews with some of the top bloggers and web designers from around the world. Paypal is certainly the most common payment option and I can understand why. From David Airey’s interview with Gino Orlandi, of “You the Designer”:
What methods of payment do you accept?
I usually take payments via PayPal, because its fast.
Why would you recommend working this way?
PayPal allows me to being projects quicker and have access to funds faster, and the dowpayment and requiring the final payment before final files are sent ensure you do not get cheated.
Gino Orlandi has a point. Paypal has over 227, 000, 000 accounts worldwide. It is secure, reliable and used by people from all over the world. I also found that a lot of designers use Freshbooks to send, track and collect payments online. I had never heard of Freshbooks before. After signing up for a free account, I was impressed. It will definitely be a useful tool for me to use in the future to manage payments.
As I continued to read parts 1-3 of David Airey’s interviews, I also learnt how a deposit is important before starting a project. The total figure needs to be approved by the client first of course before they pay the first installment. The likes of Chris Spooner takes 50% upfront, whereas others like Jonathan Selikoff, of Selikoff+Company only take 30%. As Chris rightly points out:
From the client’s point of view this also helps show how the designer values their service and work.
I personally feel 50% is reasonable. Half up front and the remaining 50% when the project is completed. Really, a lot of it comes down to how good you are at estimating the number of hours a project will take. Under estimate the number of hours and your pricing will be all wrong leading to the inevitable, “I’m going to need more money to continue”. Over estimating is equally as dodgy. The client is paying you for the hours you work, not the hours you don’t! Figuring all this out is critical before taking on big projects after university.
Charging Per Hour
On the other hand you could set a price not based on an hourly rate. An article over at Mirificam Press gives a few disadvantages of charging by the hour. There are some points in the post that I don’t agree with, like:
It encourages lower productivity
Charging by the hour would more than likely increase my productivity. I know I’d keep saying, “Oh go on, I’ll just do another hour!” which is fine, provided I’d meet the deadline and not stray too far from my initial cost estimate.
To wrap up this exciting billing section, I’d like to comment on a post over at Just Creative Design. The post is a collaboration of useful resources from other designers. The most valuable piece of information that I took from it, is from Steven Vandelay’s “12 realities of pricing your design services“. He states:
There’s no exact formula.
Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong way to price your services. Every designer needs to develop his or her own method for pricing, and even then, you probably won’t be able to follow the same formula on every project. Because each job will be different, it’s difficult to develop a method that will work well every time.
This is a comfort to me, as now I can continue to research effective ways to determine design rates and know that everyone will more than likely have their own way of doing things. It’s now about finding out which method works best for me and my services!
Theme of the Week
As I touched on earlier, the theme of the week was “Aim for the stars: You might just hit the moon”. By this, Nick and Chris were suggesting that we could produce something magnificent for our final year projects by having a great idea and not being scared to carry it out. If you aim for something that seems impossible, you might end up with something that isn’t too far from it. With optimism and imagination, I will be aiming for the stars, forget the moon!
Unlike week one, there was no alcohol for the lecturers (poor them). Chris and Nick ran through a few things that they expect from the major project and a few past examples. Some were so good, that I was the one wanting to pop open that ice cold beer (like Paul had in week one) and forget about the truckloads of work that would amount over the following weeks.
Here are a few points I jotted down from the lecture:
Sites of Interest
Belfi is a really great site based on the Google Maps API. Users of the site submit a WiFi location along with valuable information such as the cost of the WiFi and the WiFi type. Small WiFi icons then appear on the map, showing that WiFi is available in that part of Belfast. It’s a site that anyone with a laptop in Belfast would find useful and that’s what makes it so clever! It’s a simple system, well executed with a great idea behind it. Even the logo is incredibly simple but understandable at a glance.
- Find WiFi hotspots in Belfast quickly
- Submit a WiFi hotspot easily
- Limited to Belfast, though potential to roll out elsewhere
- No streetview
Small White Bear
The main feature of Small White Bear is the 4 minute opening animation with Capper the Polar Bear. Accompanied by great sound effects and a magical theme tune the site certainly captures your imagination. Capper, voiced by 8 year old Ewan Milburn, goes on to explain why his home in the North Pole is gradually being destroyed. The language used is simple and easy for children to understand. The animation provides useful facts but also keeps your attention with comical statements like, “Oh there’s a martian!”. The great thing about the site is that it is a journey. Once you watch the animation, there’s so much more to do! Download the pack of 7 funsheets, win a special prize and go on to download some well illustrated wallpapers. It’s easy to understand why Jordan got a First Class Honours in IMD as the site is just fantastic!
- Well animated
- Well suited to the target audience
- Plenty of downloadables
- The animation isn’t interactive
- I wish there were more videos to watch as I love the first
- The voting system makes the site fun and interactive
- Informative and intuitive
- Clean design-excellent choice of typography
- The homepage could be slightly confusing for new users
- Is a site where you can learn new words really talk-about-able?
A simple, well executed website from the people at Friendly Duck. Typography lovers can buy text-based posters by adding them to the shopping cart and proceeding to the checkout. The site itself is yellow and black themed with the mustard yellow being the main background colour and the black being used for the text and footer. I really like the transitions on the homepage when studying the varying posters.
- Pixel perfect posters
- Various poster sizes available
- Not overcrowded – a few posters with a rightful slot on the site
- Homepage transitions aren’t controllable with arrows
- Upon entering an incorrect value for billing information, the error message is unclear
- The maximum zoom isn’t enough for reading the smallest text on a poster
- Bright yellow is a bit harsh on the eyes
Dreamt up and designed by Shaun Chapman of Vaynermedia in New York, 0 to 255 is a simple way of finding variations of one given colour. The user firstly picks a colour from the homepage (even by entering its hexadecimal code). Once a colour has been chosen, the user will be shown a full palette of this colour, ranging from light to dark. The best feature of the site, is the ability to copy a hex code straight to the clipboard. It’s a valuable time saver and you don’t have to fiddle around with colour wheels or swatches.
- Easy to use, copy to clipboard makes life easier
- Colourful design
- Limited to the number of tones of any one colour
- Is it better than Adobe Kuler?
It’s all about the cheese
Am I writing this blog in the correct manner? Is my markup semantic? How should I go about quoting references from external sources? These were all questions that can be answered by one animal; the research cow. Unlike the traditional cow who eats grass, digests it and produces lovely cheese, the research cow is a fictitious creature that eats research, digests content and produces a great article. Sounds crazy, right? Well it didn’t come from my brain, it came from the Standardistas’.
The concept is true though. Research well and find good sources (the grass), think about the content and what it’s about (the digestion) and then produce a well marked-up blog post, based on facts that is well presented, written and uses Harvard referencing so that it’s easy to distinguish my content from someone else’s (the delicious cheese).