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Gain a better understanding of what designers offer and what falls within their scope. Check to see if your business may be expecting things that may not be within your designers scope of practice.

- Take this test to check your business expectations when it comes to understanding a designer's scope of practice.

designer working on his laptop
Photography by Tony Schnagl

#1 Designers are not responsible for establishing or starting your business

This expectation simply is due to a lack of understanding of what designers do and what they are for.

Designers are responsible for designing the face of the business - including graphic design, web design, marketing materials, etc... but they are NOT responsible for starting the business.

Check to see if you are at risk of crossing the boundaries of responsibility:

  1. requesting employee-type tasks of them without additional compensation

  2. Involving your designer in day-to-day business operations that do not involve them

  3. If you are frustrated when your designer turns down work that is the responsibility of the owner

(Though your designer may have proficient knowledge of these things, that does not mean that they are at liberty to assist you. Designers are independent and may use their discretion when accommodating your requests, but be mindful of repetition and patterns that may indicate that you are relying heavily on their support and assistance that fall outside their scope of work.)


#2 Designers are independent contractors - not your employee

Treating designers as employees can lead to a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts. By understanding and respecting the independent nature of designers, businesses can work together collaboratively in a mutually beneficial way while maintaining an effective and trustworthy professional working relationship.

Check to see if you are at risk of crossing the boundaries of responsibility:

  1. If you are surprised that your project is 1 of many currently being executed by a designer

  2. If you expect your designer to work outside of their own established set hours

  3. If you expect your designer to follow your set system or process


#3 Designers are not responsible for additional compensation

Money is a big one. Let's talk about it. Designers are not to be held accountable for charging additional fees for work that falls outside the scope of the original agreement or contract. It is the responsibility of the business owner to establish a clear budget and ensure that the project is tailored to fit within that budget. A designer may welcome additional work and accept additional taks that were not initially accounted for but under the terms of being compensated accordingly.

Check to see if you are at risk of crossing the boundaries of responsibility:

  1. If you fail to communicate a budget and move forward with work anyway

  2. If you expect your designer to tack on additional work out of the kindness of their heart

  3. Withholding payment to designer due to lack of financial means but requested work anyway


#4 Your Designer is NOT responsible for business growth or lack there of

A designer's primary role is focused on creating visual materials and touchpoints that guide a potential lead to the business and show them how and why the business can help solve their needs. The responsibility of driving business growth lies with the owner through a solid and established business plan.

  1. If you have unrealistic expectations of performance following post-production of designs

  2. If you put more stock in design than you do in sales, operations, marketing, and customer service

  3. Expecting designers to collaborate with other departments without being introduced or connected

While designers have an important role in creating materials and platforms that showcase the brand, the responsibility for business growth lies with the owner. Collaboration with other departments is required and must be addressed together to achieve business growth. Design is just one piece of the puzzle.


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Author: Audra Leverson

Website Design & Development

Owner of Salt & Sand LLC

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