I’m dead clever me. 20 Years as a designer and marketer there’s not much I don’t know and nothing you can’t tell me. I know it all, you don’t Mr. Customer so leave me to get on with the work you are paying me to do and don’t interfere. So why was my work starting to stink?
Well I know I had to make my work better, but it wasn’t a conscious decision that lead to change and improvement, but rather friendship and respect of others. You see, I’m a bloke so I can’t technically grow up until I hit 40 (actually I can never grow up – I still dream at night about BMX!) so I had to cross the great divide before things started to change.
You see prior to this I was working as a jobbing Graphic Designer for a small print company in Nottingham and not really enjoying it. I wasn’t getting on great with the boss and customers too much. You see, I’d been doing it 20 years and knew it all so why didn’t everyone just admit my superior knowledge and shut the hell up? Not surprisingly, no-one was happy so I left to pursue a career as a freelance Web Designer and SEO. And hit a big learning curve.
I had to please the client to get paid – no cushy pay slip at the end of the month now, it was all down to me and I had to change, and fast.
Fortunately I’ve always been pretty good a forming alliances and one of my close supplier/customers sends me lots of web design work and we collaborate on the design. Yes, that’s right I collaborate. Listen. Take advice and listen to other peoples opinion. Implement their ideas and suggestions into my work. Guess what? Quel surprise my work got better.
By sitting and discussing in great detail with the client what they required, what they were doing that did and didn’t work, what they thought would work better and then sitting down together and working out a plan for them we both get an idea as to how a project should go. We sit at the screen and we design together, two brains and my hands and create, well, wonderful things. An SEO and a Designer at the same console seems to work very well, and clients get a lot of benefit from two experienced brains rather than one rather arrogant one.
Work is fun as well. We both enjoy the experience and are please with the results we produce, and so are the clients as well it seem. Strangely the collaboration speeds up the design process as well. With so much background input we are already on the same map when the Mac is fired up and ready to design web sites. We plan out the page elements and where they should go – vital SEO work that eschews many modern, trendy web design practices for solid, practical and effective pages that visitors and search engine love.
The mechanics of producing a piece of work that is both aesthetically pleasing and actually works is a great challenge and it sets our work apart from most web design companies in Nottingham and around the world. I won’t bore you all by gushing about CTA’s and the like, but I will ask you to take the lesson I learned on board. Who can you work with to make your work better? Can you collaborate with associates, partners and customers to be a more effective worker and produce sparkling results for your company and clients?
No one is saying you should forget everything you know, or cave it and accept every suggestion everyone makes. Your knowledge and experience are what people employ you for, so get them to respect your opinion not bow down to your superiority. Their respect for you will grow, especially when you are finally proved right, or interestingly enough they were proved right and you had the good grace to tell them so.
I’m a much more humble person than I used to be, and I see it as strength not weakness. I’m strong enough to stand up for what I believe to be right and strong enough to admit I am wrong, which makes my work better, more effective and me the sort of person I would want to work with.