Designers vs. Consultants

A friend called yesterday, wanting to run some web design quotes by me (that were eight times more than I charge). He knew the quotes were pretty high, but was curious what I thought he should do now. Obviously I had to chuckle at the rates and let him know he sure did deserve to be curious. He then wanted to know if he should have an independent consultant look at the quotes for him, rather than a designer. Whoa – hold on just a minute! A consultant?

consultantThis is one job title that has me completely confused! What exactly IS a consultant? Webster defines one as “a person who gives professional or expert advice”. In some professions that might hold water, but not in the web design world. At least from my perspective. How can you fly around the country, making all sorts of money, giving advice on something that you aren’t even doing? Sure, you might have had some decent experience in the past, got sick of the work (LOL), and now just want to run your mouth. But this industry changes every day. If you don’t keep up with the current trends you’ll soon be out of work.

And that’s exactly what I told my friend. The last thing I would do is ask an independent about what to do next. That would be like asking some “community organizer” from Chicago to immediately run our entire country. Sorry liberals, but only time will tell! There are many different ways designers go about the business they do, and I’m sure a consultant’s view isn’t going to encompass every single one. Anyone else under the impression that there are too many individuals making millions without actually doing squat to improve the world we live in? Have you ever taken advice from a consultant and found out they were really clueless about what needed to happen?

PRAYING for my wife’s headaches / pain to be healed soon. PRAISING God for giving us a mind to discern what is truth and what is not.

  1. Wait..Wern't you the independent consultant for your friend? Just because it was free doesn't mean that it wasn't expert, impartial independent advise. If you're going to be spending a fair amount of money on something you don't know anything about, then paying someone who does to educate and inform you in an impartial manner seems to make sense. Where it gets shady is when the person isn't truly independent, when they say 'we can do this for you' or 'my buddy in bangalore'.

    • From the perspective of the individuals who do the work, sometimes the "decision making consultants" aren't revered just because they know the ins and outs of the game. Just seems like the educated ones are probably those that actually put the knowledge to the task at hand. Funny ending to the comment, that is definitely truth Isaac, LOL!

      • And that's great, I'm all with you on the 'from the perspective of the individuals who do the work'; Unfortunately, until you build a trust relationship with a client, they don't know that you know what you're doing.

  2. Michael

    I am with Issac. Consultants hold a great deal of value. Perhaps they are not worthwhile in one off single site develoment projects but when you are dealing with 50-100k site development bid, they are worth their weight in gold.

    Consultants do not need to know as much as the developers, thats not their role. Their job is to help the non-technical or less technical client understand their options and keep bids competitive (like you did). The consultants we work with do not make any money and are required when receiving monies provided by federal loans and grants.

    Anyway, that's my $0.02

  3. Enjoyed your $0.02 Michael! Keeping bids competitive is the key, you've got that right. The projects in this industry are usually very different, and I'm sure consultants are worth it more when the projects get larger. I guess I'd probably suggest that the client talk to a designer if they have one as a friend. Just makes sense to get the best facts possible for the cheapest amount of money, especially in the beginning stages of the project.

  4. I tell you what, there is no way that I would even negotiate with a consultant. First of all they don’t know my skill set or what I can and cannot do therefore, how could they possibly know what rate/quote I should be giving.

    You hire a designer, because you trust their skill, ability, and for what they are worth, if you think they are ripping you off, then don’t hire them. Just my 2 cents.

  5. In my opinion, there are three things that your friend may have needed: overall strategy, design, and coding. If your friend can get all of those in one person, that’s fantastic. But it’s not always the reality.

    I often find that designers and coders don’t have a good handle on overall strategy and that a consultant can help in that regard.

    I know designers who can’t write solid code (and don’t try). I know coders who can’t create elegant designs (and don’t try). There are a select few who can do both. Finding someone who can design, code, and provide solid strategy is rare. That’s why I feel sometimes a consultant is needed.

    Of course, I’m biased because I think I can be that consultant, but ….

    I can’t provide effective design. There are people who code better than I do. But I feel that I have a unique contribution to makes when it comes to discussing overall online strategy with someone.

  6. Adrian – I do believe that the hardest thing for a consultant to do is recommend the right designer to actually do the job. This is when the price comes into question, and usually goes skyrocket high because they don’t want their recommendation to look bad (possibly).

    Frank – I can definitely see where a consultant might have an understanding of what mix of coding / designing has to be involved. Or helping the client pick which they need the most and finding the right fit. You can usually tell right away by the portfolio…..but it might be hard for the client to tell how much code vs. design excellence was used.

Leave A Comment?