How do you put a price on the value of design? There are many factors that contribute to answering this question and it doesn’t have anything to with how many years you have been in the industry designing sites.
I could find hundreds of people who call themselves designers and have little or no clue what or how to advise and implement the proper solutions to a problem presented by a client. The cost of a designer or developer should be based on the knowledge and demonstrable experience shown through their portfolio.
Many designers feel under valued here in Canada and its because they are being under utilized and misunderstood. Designers are more than just “let’s make it look pretty” artists. Like painters and sculpture-ists there is a lot of thought that goes behind a piece of work and if an artist is rushed to complete the task, it will lack connectivity, application, and relevancy to the topic at hand. Having and providing the proper research on your target audience greatly aids designers in connecting the ideas of your product or service. Research allows an artist to create artistic elements that customers can relate to and ultimately your product or service. This is part of the user experience – something that true designers are always thinking about when they are designing sites. The user experience is what the user feels throughout the interactive period within a web site. A painter would never paint without first identifying what they want their viewers to experience, and the same applies to a website.
Probably the hardest thing for a beginner designer to do is quantify their own creative value. There is no easy way to do this but I would recommend looking at your experience and your knowledge and compare it to those in entry level design. The worst thing you can do is under value yourself. If you do your then clients will too.
One of the many other talents of designers is the ability to understand and organize a site’s information architecture and relate that back to the user experience and graphics. Believe it or not, understanding a site’s information architecture is important for a designer and would shun any designer who would think otherwise. They shouldn’t call themselves designers. An architect wouldn’t build a building without understanding the physical structure behind the materials and land they are building on. The same applies to a website. Understand the structure behind it. Technical and Informational.