Speculative Design4:08 with Paul Boag
When should you do speculative design for a potential client? Paul says "never... well, almost never."
So one of the things you might be wondering about as you put your proposal together 0:00 is whether you should do some design mock-ups to show the prospective client. 0:03 In fact, you might have even been asked to provide them 0:08 as part of the tendering process. 0:12 So should you be doing this kind of speculative design work? 0:14 Should you be putting all of the effort in up front, 0:18 without knowing whether you're going to win the work or not? 0:21 Well, my answer is a clear one. 0:23 No, you shouldn't. 0:26 Well, almost never, anyway. 0:28 There may be occasions—okay, if Coca-Cola came to me 0:31 with a multi-million dollar project and asked me 0:35 to do some speculative design work, then maybe I would be tempted. 0:38 But generally speaking, it's just a bad idea. 0:42 And not just because of the amount of work you have to put into it. 0:47 Ultimately, it costs the client money as well. 0:50 What? you might wonder. They're not paying for it. 0:55 So how does it cost the client any money? 0:58 Well, think of it like this, okay? 1:00 Let's say a client comes to you and asks for some speculative design work, 1:03 and you do it for them, but you don't win the project. 1:07 Then you get another client come to you. 1:11 Also asks you for speculative design work, 1:14 which you do, and then you win the project. 1:17 So that's two pieces of speculative design work that you've done. 1:20 You've not been paid for those, so how are you going to recover the cost? 1:23 Because you have to. Your business has to be profitable. 1:27 The way that you recover the cost is you build it in to the project you've won. 1:30 So the project that you've won—the client has paid for their own 1:35 speculative design work, but they've also paid 1:39 for the speculative design work for the client you lost. 1:43 So it's costing them a lot of money, because you won the project. 1:47 But that's not the only reason. 1:52 It's not just about cost here. 1:54 There's lots of other reasons why you shouldn't be doing speculative design. 1:56 For start, design is a process. 2:01 You don't go into a room and sprinkle fairy dust, and this magical website appears 2:03 out of it that looks good, you say it's perfect. 2:10 There's a lot of discussion and conversation and backwards and forwards 2:12 with the client. How can you do that before you've actually won the work? 2:16 Any design you produce isn't going to take into account that process. 2:21 Also, design requires a good understanding of the business you're working with. 2:26 There's a lot of business analysis that goes into it. 2:32 What are their business objectives? Who are their users? 2:35 All of that kind of stuff. Again, those kinds of conversations don't happen before they've signed on the dotted line. 2:37 So again, any design you work to produce up front 2:44 is not going to cover that kind of stuff. 2:48 Design should be a collaborative process between you and your clients. 2:51 And that collaboration just cannot happen before that relationship 2:55 has been established, before there's a contract in place. 3:00 At the end of the day, speculative design work can be nothing more than showmanship. 3:06 It's nothing more than showing off that you produce pretty graphics. 3:11 But somebody can look at your portfolio to see that. 3:15 It can never be a true representation of what the final website should be. 3:18 And although explaining that to the client is difficult, 3:24 in a lot of cases you will actually get respect for doing so. 3:27 We've been in situations where we've actually won work 3:31 because we said, very up front, that we won't do speculative design work. 3:34 And we've explained why. 3:38 The client has been so impressed at our explanations, 3:41 that they've immediately been cynical about any other web design agency 3:43 that does speculative design work for them. 3:47 If the client decides that they want that, and if you refuse 3:50 and you lose the client, then ultimately it's a great way 3:56 of weeding out undesirable clients that are going to end up being 4:00 very difficult when you actually do the final work. 4:04
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