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Keep Calm and Design

Enquiries for work come in several times a week. The source of which can range from large companies to individual start-ups and charities. A large chunk of my time is spent sifting through them picking out ones that are serious from the ones that aren’t. Having done this for many years I now have learnt to trust my instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away.

How can you tell good from bad?

The first part is the approach and that initial introduction. Is it a polite, well laid out email with full contact details and a very top-line description of the project? If so, then it is something I would pursue since the person took the time to give me enough information to act upon. Enquiries which end up in my trash can are ones that took next to no time to write, didn’t bother passing on details other than a hotmail like address, no hello or introduction, just a few lines on what they want and how much they think it will cost… typically a www.enter_popular_domain_here.com clone.

Why am I telling you this?

There is the perception that developers and designers, or anyone involved in internet development generally is hard up for work. So much so that prospective clients think they can wave the “do it cheap, and be grateful” stick and we will come running. This simply has to stop. Case and point, a recent enquiry came in which prompted me to write this:

“I am looking for a reliable, hard working agency to submit a competitively priced quote immediately. The chosen one will need to produce high quality work and be polite, on-time and obedient!!! Details of the second part of the project will be sent when we feel you are good enough to complete the first phase!!!”

What is this person implying? That all agencies are expensive, rubbish at what they do, stay in bed all day and are rude? I went to a restaurant recently and the meat was tough, the main dish was cold and was just generally all-round not nice. Does that mean that I now have the right to enter restaurants and say:

“I am looking for hot, freshly cooked meat and for the main dish to also be hot and taste exactly the way I want it!!!!”

I don’t. To assume that all restaurants are the same would be unfair and outright rude. Agencies aren’t desperate for work to the point that you can sacrifice manners and etiquette. So don’t.

How do we decide on which developers/designers to use?

Start with portfolio, then make polite contact via email passing on your full contact details and a brief outline of the project. Follow that with a chat, either a face to face meeting or an on-line video conferencing call. Get a feel for whether the agency knows where you are coming from and understands where you are heading with the project. Not only do you need someone on board that can carry out the work, but can also contribute by being the resident “expert” throwing in additional ideas and alternative ways of looking at the problem. I am happy to say that the vast majority of enquiries are polite and detailed, this is aimed at the few that aren’t. You know who you are. :D

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