On Combating the Hacks

Via Derek, I read Jeff Croft’s a lengthy, fretful post about how ‘professional designers’ are being shafted by $30/hour amateurs. He wants to charge a lot more than $30/hour, apparently, but is disgusted by all the clients going to the ‘hacks’.

And yet they succeed. They continue to get jobs and they continue to roll out tag soup, tabled-based layouts with amateurish graphics full of Photoshop filters and all-Flash sites full of unnecessary and cheesy animation. They rip off well-made sites, stealing graphics and layouts and pawning them off as their own work to unsuspecting clients.

He subsequently makes the foolish suggestion of ‘some kind of professional body for our industry’. Right, because professional bodies in other industries tend to defend high standards and offer reliable service?

He’s written this post as if he’s the first professional in the world to suffer downward pressure on rates because of technological advancement and increased competition. He’s not, and he ought to go read about what, well, nearly every other industry has had to face at one time or another. Whinging isn’t going to help, and neither is a professional association or, Lord help me, web designers’ union.

Personally, sometimes I hire the $150/hour designer and sometimes I hire the $30/hour guy. Why? Because I know what differentiates the two, and I know when I need the hotshot and when I can make do with the hack.

Bonus design link: Why table layouts are stupid.


  1. Sometimes hacks are just pros without a resume. I know a few hacks. And I’d rather pay an up-and-comer who actually listens to what the client wants than a pro who tells me that I shouldn’t want what I want.

    Some degree of critical feedback is essential, of course. I want to know if what I want doesn’t work or will shoot my site in the foot. But I still maintain control, and not all pros feel I should.

  2. You generally get what you pay for and pay for what you need. 90% of companies don’t need more than a phone number and address on their website, and the rest is overkill. (Buy me a case of beer, and I’ll get you one of those before I finish the first 6)

    If you’re talking about a major company for whom image is everything, they won’t blink twice at a 30K makeover, and won’t consider a firm that hasn’t pulled of success before. What gets me every time is arrogance, where people think they deserve something without being able to present a value proposition. If you want to charge $150/hr, show how your abilities provide a return on investment and how your past redesign increased a clients business. If you can’t do that it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been doing it for 1 yr or 8.

    I know professional “web designers” who can program inside and out but have no idea of colour balance, and others who have taken degrees in design but have no idea about targeting demographics.

    So let em gripe!

  3. I tend to let the customer decide what a product or service is worth. I have faith in honesty. When I have to set a price for something it becomes difficult to have a set price simply because I don’t know what the other (customer) has in mind or what their actual budget is. I’d hope they would be honest with me. If they can afford a hundred bucks an hour then so be it. If they can afford 30 bucks and hour so be it. I believe design is more encompassing than an hourly set rate; it is set per project in relation to the clients wants and needs. Onc e one knows what they want and how much they can honestly afford then I will be honest with them about what I need. then we negotiate and hopefully a solution is founf that we both favour.

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