. . . the art of design

Hidden Value: Me and the Dentist

Several years back I was a the dentist's office.  I wasn't there very long.  The dental hygienist was quick, and I had just brushed my teeth.  The Dentist himself (more or less) just poked his head in the room.  I'm not even sure he bothered putting on gloves. (That's probably not true.)  He said, "Looks good," and he was on his merry way.  This was a fairly typical dental experience: lot of prep-work, very little DMD interaction.  Only this day I forgot I was at the Dentist office and thought I was in a design studio.  So, when I received the outrageous bill, I called the Dentist over.

"Now, I thought this would be a lot less," I said.  He assured me that the price was accurate.  "Hmmm.  Well can we make it less?  Is there anything we can do ... you know ... 'cause it's me, and I bring a lot of teeth to you."  He explained the difficulty of having different prices for everyone.  So, I asked "How long were you really back there, though?"  He was starting to look a little insulted.  So, I decided to change gears a little bit.  "OK, next time I come, I'll probably only want you to clean the tops of my back teeth and the front of my front teeth.  The others aren't really problem areas for me."

The Explanation
The previous conversation was, of course, all imagery.  It was a little parable for you.  Obviously, I have never questioned the bill at the dentist's office.  I have never challenged the value of his time and work.  I have never tried to compromise the well-being of my teeth and gums to save a percentage.  Why not?  Because the dental care that one receives is worth more than the sum of its parts.  Where as some purchases have hidden cost, others have hidden value.  I am receiving not only the time that the staff gives me that day but all of the knowledge that comes from their years of studying and experience.  I am not just getting cleaner teeth, I am getting protection from plaque, cavities and gingivitis.  Furthermore I am getting those possible problems accurately assessed because I can't even notice them on my own, let alone fix them.

The Comparison
The same (though on my much less serious level) is true for graphic designers and web masters.  Our prices may be high, but you are receiving hidden value.  These are things that can't necessarily be priced out or itemized.  (If we did, someone would try to haggle over them.)  They are just there; you get them whether you want it or not.  It's just the way we do things.

  • You are not merely getting the time of our service.  You are getting (in a sense) the product of our work, experience and study.
  • You are not merely getting a better design or a nicer site.  You are getting a design or site that avoids all of the pitfalls, dangers, offenses and industry faux pas that others would miss.
  • You are not merely getting something that works.  You are getting the assurance that if anything breaks, it can be fixed, neutralized and maybe even harnessed.
  • You are not merely getting our skill sets.  You are getting an in to our network of other talented workers that you will soon need.
  • You are not merely getting a vendor.  You are getting a promoter, and often times a new client (and our sphere of influence that comes with us).

The old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."  Dangling preposition not with standing, that's is often true.  However, in my line of work you are usually getting much more.