If you spend a little time in the web design industry, you will undoubtedly run into someone who just understands the value of what you do. The amazing thing is that even in this high-tech world we live in, there are still people who think that anyone can build a great website.
Years ago, it seemed very common. As a young designer, I remember several colleagues (and even my boss) who have no idea what I did. But in those days, web design was a fairly new concept in the mainstream. So, I never took their point of view personally. It was probably a question about people who didn’t get “the” internet yet.
But now technology is everywhere. People hold the entire web in their hands. And yet, we are still affected by those who think we are all hipster rip-off artists. Years ago I had an encounter like this and I was a bit puzzled.
This person concluded that little skill was required in terms of web design as they were able to perform some related tasks easily. Designers just needed to click the right buttons and didn’t value our mouse handling skills.
Before I go further down the rabbit hole, I should admit that there are plenty of people who use DIY tools to create websites – and that’s okay. But that is not as well as the point. Rather, it’s about having a basic respect for another person’s profession.
Things a Pro would know
Oddly enough, around the time of this encounter, I saw someone doing something that I thought was amazing. I watched a carpenter build a deck at our neighbor’s house.
More than once, I said to myself, “I wish I could build something like that.” His precision and ease with which he did his job reminded me that every profession has its intricacies – ones that only true experts can tackle.
Web design definitely falls into that category. Some challenges require an eye for design and a brain for code. Things like knowing which desktop feature will scale well to mobile or how to customize shopping cart behavior come from experience.
They are not tasks that just anyone off the street can do. Just like this carpenter knew exactly how to cut wood, web designers know how to solve problems specific to their craft.
It’s easy to write off a certain profession as “easy” or to think that “anyone can do that” – but it’s also dead wrong.
How to Deal with Doubts
There’s a reason web designers seem to celebrate each other so often. The job is difficult and full of challenges.
So when we see one of our peers doing something remarkable, we often want to reward a job well done. We share each other’s success – especially when it inspires us to do better.
Outside of the industry, you don’t necessarily expect that same kind of recognition. But you should expect others to value your time and value as a professional.
When you meet someone who doesn’t appreciate what you do, here’s my advice: don’t lower your standards to work with them.
It’s not worth working with someone who doesn’t appreciate your skills. Often, these people don’t want to pay the going rate for your services. They will expect everything to be done for free (it’s just clicking around in a web browser, after all). It is also doubtful that they will take your advice.
If they casually mention that they could do the work themselves – encourage them to do so. They might get what they need with a pre-built theme and a few plugins. If so, more power to them.
However, they are bound to solve a problem that they cannot solve with a few clicks. When that happens, they may start to realize that they need an expert to come in and clean things up.
Accept Nothing Less Than Respect
In some ways, I almost feel bad for diving into this topic. The world is made up of all kinds of people. Not everyone makes an ideal client. It’s pretty easy to move on to bigger and better things.
But I think this is also about the ability of designers to stand up for themselves. A younger version of myself might have accepted this situation as truth. It may have lowered my standards (not to mention my prices). But who does that help?
To be clear, just because someone doesn’t agree with your pricing structure doesn’t mean they don’t respect you. Price negotiation is a much older practice than web design and applies to almost every line of work. Instead, it’s more about how someone perceives the value of you and your services.
More than anyone, you know your skill level and how hard you work. If someone asks about those, you don’t need them.