in Design

We Will Not Sell You The Bling Bling

Bling, a definition:

The word “bling” refers to any unnecessary accumulation of metal or jewellery which impresses the simple-minded.

 I guess you know how it goes. You are sitting at your desk going through your e-mail, and you see that message.

Dear Sketchin,
we are planning a redesign of our website, and we are sending out Requests For Proposal to selected web agencies….

blah, blah, blah

As part of your proposal, we are asking participants to provide us with three creative options of the Home Page, the Product Page…

I hate this kind of messages, don’t you.

The first thing I don’t like is that the client is asking for a “redesign of the website”. I am sure if you checked what we do, but let me say that “redesign” sounds a little bit reductive to me. What I would like to read in your brief is something like: “We are planning to design a new experience for our clients through our digital touchpoints”. That would be much closer to the kind of work we do for our clients.

Second. We are not a “web agency” with all the respect to web agencies. Again, we do Service and Experience design, which is a slightly different ball game.

Third and more important. You are asking me for free work.

I don’t know much about your company, but I am quite sure you are not giving away your work for free. Why should I do that? Just because you are a client? No way.

That said the problem here is bigger than giving away free work. It’s about selling the bling.

As I said, I work for a Service and Experience design studio. Our main goal is to listen to you and understand how your business works, how your clients use your physical and digital artifacts and design the best experience for those artifacts.

Now, let’s take away the physical world, and focus on the digital world.

I would like to talk to you about the bling. What’s the bling? It’s the Visual Design you are asking in the first place. Let’s be direct. Visual Design is an important and critical element in a design project, but it’s one of the final tasks in a project.

We will need to understand user’s behavior, getting a grip on your business goals, define a design strategy, design a solution from an Interaction Design standpoint, and finally do the Visual Design for the final delivery. (Yes, I am oversimplifying)

Now. I understand that Service and Experience Design is not part of your company culture, and I am more than happy to explain why it is critical for your success.

The point is that since you do not know how to address the problem you tend to simplify it, and instead of asking for an experience design you ask for a visual design. That’s how our brain works.

You don’t know how to evaluate an experience design proposal, but you know how to evaluate a visual design proposal. Visual Design ends up being evaluated like “I like it” or “I don’t like it”. It’s the bling.

The problem is that you are emotionally, and personally, evaluating a project that does not have to look great in the first place, but has to reach your business goals. Sure, at the end of the day it must look great, but that’s not the main and only goal you should have.

I will always decline to participate in an RFP where you are just asking me to sell you the bling. You know, we are masters at bling, but that’s only a fraction of what we do.

Final consideration.

Beware of those who are selling you the bling.

Original photo by Brandon Baunach – Original Photo