On the commercialisation and commoditisation of design
Design has become an increasingly accessible field in recent years, with more and more designers entering the market every day thanks to approachable design software. As a result, the industry has become highly competitive, and designers are constantly looking for new ways to stand out and make a name for themselves. One trend that has emerged in recent years is the commercialisation and commoditisation of design, with many designers opting to sell their services on a monthly basis via a design subscription model.
While this approach may seem like a smart way to charge more on a rolling basis, it has also led to a growing trend of design as subscription, with monthly recurring revenue (MRR) being a key bragging point on social platforms. However, as a designer, I am not keen to be any part of this trend.
In my opinion, design is not a commodity that can be sold on a monthly basis like a subscription service. Design is a creative process that requires time, effort, and expertise to produce high-quality results. By commoditising design in this way, we risk devaluing the profession and reducing it to a mere transactional service.
Furthermore, the subscription model can create a sense of entitlement among clients, who may feel that they are entitled to unlimited design work for a fixed monthly fee. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and put undue pressure on designers to produce work quickly and cheaply, rather than focusing on quality and creativity. Some of what I’ve seen is this claim to “turn around a design in 48 hours”. This sets a low quality bar and encourages repetitive and unoriginal design ideas to float to the top.
As a designer, I believe that it is important to value our work and charge accordingly. We should not be afraid to charge what we are worth and to stand up for the value of our profession. By doing so, we can ensure that design remains a respected and valued profession, rather than a commodity to be bought and sold on a monthly basis.
Design is not just about creating something that looks good, it's about solving problems and meeting the needs of clients. It requires a deep understanding of the client's business, their target audience, and their goals. This level of expertise is unlikely to be achieved through a subscription model mindset, where the focus is on quantity over quality. Instead, designers should focus on building long-term relationships with clients, where they can provide value through their expertise and experience. This approach not only benefits the designer but also the client, who can benefit from a more personalised and tailored approach to their design needs. Ultimately, the commoditisation of design is a short-sighted approach that undermines the value of the profession and limits the potential for creativity and innovation.
Another trend that has emerged in recent years is the productisation of designers themselves. Many designers have started to sell courses, templates, and other digital products as a way to monetise their skills and expertise. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, it can lead to a focus on quantity over quality, with designers churning out products in order to make a quick buck.
This approach can also lead to a lack of focus on the core skills that make a great designer. Instead of honing their craft and developing their skills, designers may become more focused on marketing and selling their products. This can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity, as designers become more concerned with meeting the demands of their customers rather than pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
As a designer, it is important to strike a balance between monetising your skills and maintaining a focus on quality and creativity. While there is nothing wrong with selling courses or other digital products, it is important to remember that your core skills as a designer are what make you valuable to clients. By focusing on developing your skills and expertise, you can ensure that you remain at the forefront of your field and continue to provide value to your clients.