If you spend a bit of time in the web design industry, you’ll undoubtedly run into someone who just doesn’t understand the value of what you do. What’s amazing is that, even in this high-tech world in which we live, there are still people who think that anyone can build a great website.
Years ago, it seemed very common. As a young designer, I can remember a few co-workers (and even my boss) having no idea what I did. But in those days, web design was a fairly new concept in the mainstream. Thus, I never took their attitudes personally. It was likely a matter of people who didn’t quite “get” the internet just yet.
But now technology is everywhere. People hold the entire web in their hands. And yet, we still run into those who think we’re all hipster rip-off artists. Years ago I had an encounter like this and was a bit puzzled.
The inference this person gave was that because they could easily complete a few related tasks, web design required little skill. Designers simply needed to click the right buttons and didn’t have any value beyond our mouse-handling skills.
Before I go any further down the rabbit hole, I should acknowledge that there are plenty of people who use DIY tools to build websites – and that’s fine. But it’s also not the point. Rather, it’s about having basic respect for someone else’s profession.
Things Only a Pro Would Know
Oddly enough, around the time of this encounter, I saw someone do something that, in my view, 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 the relative ease with which he did his job reminded me that every profession has its intricacies – ones that only the true experts can navigate.
Web design is certainly in that category. Some challenges require an eye for design and a brain for code. Things like knowing what desktop feature will scale down nicely to mobile or how to customize shopping cart behavior are the result of experience.
They’re 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 surmise that “anyone can do that” – but it’s also dead wrong.
How to Deal with Doubters
There’s a reason why 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 accomplish something significant, we often want to reward a job well done. We share in each other’s success – especially when it inspires us to do better.
Outside of the industry, you can’t necessarily expect that same kind of recognition. But you should expect that others will respect your time and your value as a professional.
When you run into someone who isn’t respectful of what you do, here is my advice: don’t lower your standards to work with them.
It’s not worth working with someone who doesn’t value your skills. Quite often, these people don’t want to pay the going rate for your services. They’ll expect everything to be done on the cheap (it’s just clicking around in a web browser, after all). It’s also doubtful that they’ll accept your advice.
If they casually mention that they could do the work themselves – encourage them to do so. Maybe they’ll accomplish what they need with a pre-built theme and a couple of plugins. If so, more power to them.
Still, they’re bound to run into an issue that they can’t resolve with a few clicks. When that happens, perhaps they’ll 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 petty for diving into this topic. The world is made up of all sorts of people. Not everyone makes an ideal client. It’s easy enough to move on to bigger and better things.
But I think that this is also about a designer’s ability to stand up for themselves. A younger version of me may have just accepted this situation as truth. It might have led me to lower 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. Negotiating over price is a much older practice than web design and applies to just about 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 questions that, you don’t need them.