Book review: Design is a Job
This refreshing book tells it like it is – and is as informative to designers as it is to their clients.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of books around telling you how to run a business. It’s always more interesting (and somewhat rarer) when someone tells you how to run your type of business.
That’s right, folks. Design is a Job is written by the leader of a website design company, Mule, and is primarily written for other website professionals.
But, if you’re not a website designer, don’t look away now! It’s also extremely valuable for those who work with, or commission, almost any kind of designer.
Design is a Job is essentially a manual for running a website design business. It’s a short book, easily read over a few evenings, written in a good-natured and relaxed style that makes you feel that you’re chatting to the author over a coffee. Indeed, it goes beyond that – this book is refreshinglystraight-talking. It’s no-nonsense, with both barrels common-sense in written form.
Design is a Job may be short on pages, but it’s not short on wisdom. Advice given here is backed up by the hard-won experience of a seasoned design veteran. Not someone who always gets it right either – there are plenty of hard knocks here. Mike’s goal is that youlearn as much as possible from his mistakes, rather than suffering your own.
As a seasoned website designer, I was gratified to see that I work in a way that closely aligns to Mike’s own framework – and shared many of the same experiences building my business. But it was nice to pick up some new stuff along the way – things I’d never thought of, things I’d considered and dismissed and even different ways of looking at things I do every day.
Design is a Job focuses very much around the unique way a design business works. Creating bespoke business solutions – where design is really the visual manifestation of a much larger process. It encourages designers to throw off the preconception that we are emotionally driven creatives whose job is to arrange things in a pretty way – and work with clients to realise that we solve real business issues, using design as a tool. Designs are constructed, not imagined.
The book covers not only the creative side of running a design business, but also those other, rather important, things such as contracts and getting paid. It also deals in depth with the touchy subject of ‘difficult clients’ – pointing out that, in many cases, clients aren’t being difficult, they’re just not used to working with designers on design jobs.
Which is why I said that this book is valuable to those who work with designers, not just designers themselves. It provides a unique insight into the way that design firms work, why they sometimes struggle with clients – and what can be done about it. Just as I think this is an essential read for those working in design, I think it’s an essential read for those who often work with designers.
For both parties, it can change the way you work. Recommended.