The Spec Trap
by Terri Stone
Last week, Eric Adams wrote about his experiences using Sitepoint to solicit logo designs for a fledgling non-profit focused on suicide prevention. As I expected, there were some negative reactions from readers who are against work done on spec; that is, with no guarantee of pay.
I understand where these readers are coming from. Spec work may seem seductive when you’re having a slow month, but it’s important to understand its downsides. Even for people just starting out in design, spec work can be detrimental. Not only might you learn bad habits, but the clients you “win” will continue to expect you to work for little compensation after you’ve built up your portfolio. This same pitfall of diminished paycheck expectations applies to established designers, as well.
The drawbacks for clients may not be so obvious, but they do exist. The best resolutions of design challenges come from in-depth client-designer communication and research. Competition sites like Sitepoint don’t foster that approach.
Had I been in a similar situation, I would have looked for a designer whose work I respected and whose style meshed with the project’s creative brief. I then would have asked that designer if he or she would be willing to do the project pro bono. If the answer was no, I would have kept looking.
To take part in this spec/no-spec dialog, go to the voxbox.
Terri Stone, editor in chief