The importance of having a designer on staff 10 Aug 2005
53 comments Latest by Adam Landrum
A significant percentage of the clients we’ve worked with in the past 6 years have healthy engineering teams in-house, but they lack a single designer. Flush with programmers, devoid of designers. That’s not a healthy ratio.
The interface is the product. It’s the touchpoint between you and your customers. It’s the translator between two parties that often speak different languages. If you’re unable to control that touchpoint to a significant degree on your own then you’re putting your business in someone else’s hands.
Let me be clear: I’m not advocating bringing all design in-house. It’s very important to be open to working with outside firms with loads of experience, fresh eyes, and a deep understanding of what works on the web, but you really shouldn’t rely on the outside 100% for something that is so critical to the inside, to the core of your business.
This is most evident when it comes to updating a site that’s already launched. Yes, a talented web design firm such as silverorange or Adaptive Path, or some top-of-their-game freelancers such as D. Keith Robinson, Dan Cederholm, or Dave Shea can get you quite far and put you in a beautiful launch position, but what happens 3 months down the road? What if you need to make a change tomorrow? What if you need to launch a new section today? Sure, you can call them up and hope they’re free, but the real answer is that you should have a competent designer on staff to help grow the site. Design needs daily tweaking just like programming needs daily tweaking to squash bugs and optimize the code. Relying 100% on outsourcing for updates is a sure way to slow down your progress. Having to go outside all the time makes change expensive and we should all strive to bring the cost of change down, not up.
So the point is this: If you’re building a team, make sure a designer is in the cards. Don’t skimp — or skip — on in-house design talent. Work with experts on the outside, but do your best to mirror that expertise on the inside.