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Working Speculatively


#1
I implore everyone to please read this article before advertising or replying to speculative work:
NO!SPEC » Why Speculation Hurts

A short excerpt:
Some companies advocate the practice of gathering a number of different designers or agencies to pitch ideas for a project. The way it works is that the company calls up several different designers and says, “We need a new ad. Come up with an idea to show us and if we like it, we’ll hire you.” If the designer is lucky, the company will at least have a creative brief, a short document explaining the problem, to send.

In the design community, we refer to this practice as speculative work. It requires a designer to put forth work on behalf of the company without any promises or guarantees of getting paid.

This practice has become popular because many companies erroneously view it as a quick and easy way to get the best ideas from designers. Unfortunately, requesting speculative design is a poor business decision because it caters to the lowest common denominator of design. It also forces designers to engage in the poor design practice of making snap decisions.
 

ARRIVALS

Well-Known Member
#4
This would all strongly be against sites like People Per Hour too then?:icon_lol:
Not really. People Per Hour doesn't work like that. They only invite people to bid for projects, whoever puts the best bid in will then go on to do the project. They're not inviting people to do work which may or may not be paid for.

But sites like Crowdspring, 99designs, and designcrowd do work like that and are a cancer that needs to be rid of.
 
#5
Well, I haven't used People Per Hour before so can't really comment on it, but from what I can see, it is possible to do work through the site without doing 'spec work'. The reason I don't use the site at present is that many so called 'designers' who quote for the jobs there are based overseas and thus can afford to provide the work for much lower then here in the UK (but usually with lower quality). But there again, I don't have any experience with pph, so I could be wrong, things could have changed.
 

ARRIVALS

Well-Known Member
#6
Well, I haven't used People Per Hour before so can't really comment on it, but from what I can see, it is possible to do work through the site without doing 'spec work'. The reason I don't use the site at present is that many so called 'designers' who quote for the jobs there are based overseas and thus can afford to provide the work for much lower then here in the UK (but usually with lower quality). But there again, I don't have any experience with pph, so I could be wrong, things could have changed.
The shitty thing about People Per Hour is that people can bid rediculously low prices, just to win it. This is the reason I don't use it, or any of the sites named above.
 
#7
But then it never does pay. A few of my clients came to me after using 'low cost' designers, and reaping the bitter consequences of doing so. As many people would testify, you get what you pay for!
 

Dave L

Well-Known Member
#8
... Unfortunately, requesting speculative design is a poor business decision because it caters to the lowest common denominator of design. It also forces designers to engage in the poor design practice of making snap decisions.
I think this part of the argument is unhelpful, unnecessary and a wee bit disingenuous: procuring speculative work is of clear benefit to business because it's chief purpose is to seek to generate ideas on an entirely risk-free basis (the way I see it, at it's core, it's about engineering a stand-off to see which is greater - the designer's need for paid work or the client's need for design). It's wrong because it results in an unfair business relationship which undervalues and undermines the design industry as a whole - that's all.
 
#9
I think this part of the argument is unhelpful, unnecessary and a wee bit disingenuous: procuring speculative work is of clear benefit to business because it's chief purpose is to seek to generate ideas on an entirely risk-free basis (the way I see it, at it's core, it's about engineering a stand-off to see which is greater - the designer's need for paid work or the client's need for design). It's wrong because it results in an unfair business relationship which undervalues and undermines the design industry as a whole - that's all.
Not necessarily, take for example designing a logo (well we don't just design logos, we design branding but you know what I mean). When a client comes to us for this, we spend time understanding the client, researching the industry, mind mapping, ect. All this happens before we even start on the first drafts. The result is branding and a logo that work for the business rather then a logo that just looks good. It works, it has marketing value and reaches the audience!

When it comes to spec work, there is no way to build a relationship, and understand the clients' business fully! The result is a more superficial piece of design that doesn't work as well for the business.
 
#10
Something that we've been expected to do recently is advise potential clients on how we would take a number of services into a new market for them - so more or less developing the basics of a strategy that they can built upon by whoever they choose to work with. At first this can be considered a way of a client testing whether a design agency has the potential to actually deliver effectively but more likely a way of dangling a carrot and obtaining free consulting.

Our approach now is to take previous projects, measure the success, conversions and return on investment and 80% of the time that is enough of a vehicle for a client to want to work with you - the 20% that doesn't happen usually turn out to be window shopping
 
#11
Expecting the entire world to refuse to work 'on spec' is a bit like expecting the entire world to become vegetarian. Whether we agree or don't agree with it, it's just never going to happen.

I personally think it's a proper cheek to ask anyone to compete for work in this manner. Imagine asking a bunch of painter and decorators to each paint a wall in your house, after which you decided which of them got the honour of being paid to paint the bathroom.

It makes no sense to market yourself this way however as noted above, them that will...will and it is their choice to do so.