Guest post by Robert Urban
Show me a “how to” instruction video and I can do just about anything… or can I? Recently, a situation occurred in my house that consisted of a significant plumbing issue. I Googled it, read articles, and knew all the jargon to make myself seem knowledgeable to the Home Depot expert when requesting the parts, but soon realized I was way over my head. I had neither the necessary tools nor know-how to tackle the problem. We called a plumber and within 15 minutes he fixed the problem and made it seem like the easiest thing in the world. Couple hundred dollars later and it was as good as new. It reminded me that the cost of any service oriented person is in the education, experience, and tools they bring to the table.
I have been in the design and development community for a long time and have heard numerous times:
“Hey I know this is written in open source code and free, why does this website cost x amount?”
Experience and Education
While there are still the handful of designers and developers that are self taught and incredible, a vast majority of those that choose to pursue this profession get a degree to compliment their experience. With school cost skyrocketing this person is paying several thousand dollars to enhance their skills and knowledge base. This doesn’t take into account the countless hours that they spend learning new programs, playing around with various designs and elements, and trying to keep abreast of new technologies and changes in the industry. With minimum wage being around $6 an hour, here is another few thousand dollars worth of time invested in learning their trade – all in becoming better suited to work long hours and be berated by people that don’t know anything about design, code, and development repeatedly ask why something takes longer than they think it should.
I once had a professor tell me that in today’s age it no longer is as high a priority of what you know, but rather how fast you can find and process information. A great designer/developer has a library full of scripts, plug-ins, programs, source code that they know how to manipulate to save time and effort; there is no use in reinventing the wheel. Take into fact that they also typically have spent a boatload of cash on the newest software programs (seen the price sticker on Adobe CS suite? It’s pricey.) as well as cutting edge laptops and giant monitors, and once again the cost adds up.
These people love what they do – they have paid their dues, spent an exorbitant amount of money, and more importantly, their time, in learning their trade; just so you can question why this open source development that you want isn’t free. Next time the designer quotes a price, think of these factors and how much you invested in learning your skill and how you would feel if someone said they want your experience and time for free, or even better: next to nothing. The return of investment on having an incredible site designed and developed is worth opening your wallet and paying their worth.
I know that Robert’s post focuses on web development and design, but this is applicable in virtually any arena with people who have a specific skill or talent.
Feel free to share your thoughts