4.1 Practical Issues: Introduction

To say that practical issues in the design profession are numerous is to make an understatement. I cannot hope to address them all here, but there are a few crucial issues that demand examination in order to reveal standards to which professionals must adhere. As with the rest of this treatise, it is incumbent upon the reader to extrapolate contextually from the few examples presented here in order to maintain professional consistency in all practical issues.

Of Customers and Clients

Members of a profession exercise discrimination in choosing clients rather than simply accepting all comers (as merchants do).

From the fundamental characteristics of a profession

There are some agencies and some freelance designers who take a merchant approach rather than a professional approach to their practice. For these folks, anyone who calls or walks through the door is their customer. A person calls needing a website, they sell them a website. For such relationships, the only questions that need to be answered are: how much do you want to spend and how quickly do you need it?

The people who enlist the skills of such agencies and designers are not clients, they’re customers. They’re interested in purchasing goods; generally at the lowest price. Clients, on the other hand, are in need of professional services, expertise, and advice. Value, not price, is what matters most to good clients. Design professionals only work with clients. For customers, project success is a crapshoot. For carefully-selected clients, success is a highly-probable outcome.

Since a design professional chooses his clients, he must employ a process for finding the right ones and culling the wrong ones. This process of vetting potential clients typically begins with pre-bid discussions.