Compare Investment Value
Consider the outcome of time invested in pre-made template systems or web site builders versus time invested with creative professionals in light of the potential for value-added benefit.
Technology is amazing. With literally the click of a button so much can take place: “build a web site”, open an account, post to a large social network. In the competitive world of branding, though, we wonder if point and click design and marketing is best for businesses? Do templates think?
A Proposition of Value
Readily available “communication tools” made possible by technology may over simplify what is a dynamic, creative, forward-looking process, one whose sole purpose is to distinguish and promote an entity or individual. In that regard, design and communication is much more than a “pretty face” or sleek template. What, then, is the value being proposed in a template system in comparison to that provided by creative professionals?
The face value of template systems and website builders lies in their (initial) cost savings, speed, ease of use, and lack of complex interactions involving sophisticated analysis of marketing objectives as expressed through design and structure. Perhaps the curse of the modern age — speed — is ultimately the primary and subtle value of these systems. Boom – after a few hours, the site is up (not really but seductively).
But is the value of that “time savings” being appreciated correctly? Let’s say it takes 15 hours to get photos and text into a template and the site launched on a hosted or stand-alone domain. There’s some sleeve-rolling and tinkering to be done, but you’ve got a container for your content at the end. And then what?
In comparison, what would 15 hours of time spent by creative professionals result in? Most likely, those hours begin with a listening project that then catalyzes an analysis of your market, which in turn blends into an initial proposal of creative ideas encompassing identity, visibility, and actionable strategies across design and marketing. Compare that inherent or amassed value versus simply the time spent in the activity of filling out a template.
The first uses time to achieve a short term goal; the second uses time to invest in a long-term process of discovery and actualization.
Another angle through which to analyze the comparison is that of relationship. The fairly static, one-way relationship a user develops toward a template system is of an entirely different nature than how creative professionals relate with clients. They see it as a partnership, and creative professionals have a commitment to that partnership as a source of their own expressive potential, by which they do their work. Creativity is a commodity in this context only in as much as there is a dynamic relationship to support its flourishing. This healthy dependence can fruit into some amazing landmarks in communication. Perhaps this comparison over states the obvious, but if we return to the notion of time-investment, the inception of a partnership leads to incalculable long term gain, whereas one fairly quickly maxes out the potential of template systems.
Finally, to take this comparison of systems to its final conclusion, we should consider the organic aspect of a creative professional’s interaction with a client’s body of material. Recognize that the design and communication profession provides, essentially, solutions that flux with the dynamic and changing challenges they address; template systems offer rather static and fixed solutions to standard concerns such as the need for interactive structures, social engagement, and basic content management. The profession therefore remains in a state of constant evolution. Solutions are by their nature temporary, provisional, and endure just as long as the market context allows before a re-imagination is required, not necessarily all the way down to the level of core identity, but often in the means through which that identity is projected – which can be changes in language, in strategy, in use of media (which we all know is tremendously dynamic). This level of fluidity and responsiveness can never be matched by an investment in template systems.
These questions about quality, value, and intention are important for businesses to ask as they stake out their approach to the means and meaning of their outreach efforts. In the end, it’s about how deep you want to go and how fruitful do you want the time and money you spend to be. These questions cut to the very core of the design, communication, and marketing project as a whole, which templates turn into something superficial and functional as opposed to an ever-changing dance between an entity and its context.
We as professionals in the design and communication industry spend our time thinking about and addressing these concerns. Intuition, creative spunk, boldness, patience, originality, circumspection – you’ll never find these in a template system, while in the universe of design and communication the possibilities are endless.