Monday, July 4, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: Buy American Design

I do not generally talk about The Day Job here, because you could not possibly care, and this is supposed to be a blog about sports and all. Says so right there in the title. But enough of y'all know me from Day Job Concerns, and this is, after all, An American Blog, so let's have it.

Foreign design.

The reason n I bring this up is that the new job has been using it, which means that I have to go to a certain Web site to check on it... and the magic of such things is that now I get banners from that place on this site, just to remind me of the existence of the place. Not exactly the best use of Web advertising dollars there, but so be it.

It's such a cost savings, you see? Why pay an American graphic design professional when we can just use some third-world source, especially for production-level banners and logo designs. Photoshop is Photoshop, and it's just the way of the digital world, don't you see? We'll have someone for whom $10-$20 an hour is a caliph's wage, and even if the front shell organization that pimps out these people are taking a ruinous cut, it's got to be cheaper. Right?

Well, um, not so much. In my experience, actually, never. Let us count the ways.

The first is the dreaded monthly retainer. You've got tons of design jobs that you need, right? Otherwise, you wouldn't be looking into farming the work out in the first place. So why not just pay Off World Design a stipend five-figure check every month and don't sweat the small stuff, the rampant revisions, the slow turnaround times and the overall meh feeling? You'll get the security you need to just forget about the monthly retainer payment and everything. (Needless to say, this is the way to slow service, and not much of it.)

The second is the revision cycle overcharge. How could you possibly need more than three revision cycles for any piece of art? Well, simple: you could be working in the modern digital age for a client that cares about their brand a little too much, or who needs to get something approved first in their own immediate circle, then later by compliance and legal police, and then a third time by branding enforcers or a seagull manager executive. In other words, three revision cycles is going to be hit pretty often. Which is when Mr. Foreign Design Source... decides that the revision cycle process has just gotten too onerous, and you need to start with a fresh charge on the work. So your most trivial charge is going to cost... the same as a whole new job. Fair, no?

Final point of joy is where you need to have older files modified. The cost of storing such things is just immense, really; work on any file that's more than three months old, and you've got to go into the vault, reanimate the file with a stunning amount of power under a full moon, and pay to send the designer back in time, to a more innocent age where he or she can fully channel the younger designer that had the courage and vision to work on this thing. Or they could, you know, just access the file the same way they do any other job. Only with Foreign Design, it's... you guesses it, a brand new job. No, seriously. Nice lack of work if you can charge for it.

So if you are ever in a position where you are being made to consider Third World Design... just don't. It's not as price-competitive as you think it is (if, indeed, it is at all), the quality of work and turnaround time can't compete, and that sense of immorality that's gnawing at your innards isn't wrong. Keep the job in America, where it belongs, and use the threat of Third World Design for the only defensible position you can use it for: negotiating against your American designers to keep their costs down. (Hey, it's not as if it has no use. Or that I should have written that last part out loud.)

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