Event Apart: Selling Design

by Luke Wroblewski August 28, 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.