I’ve just finished reading the latest short book from the A Book Apart series. It’s called Design is a Job, by Mike Monteiro. Mike is the owner of Mule Design, though if you’ve heard of him, it’s probably from his ascerbic twitter account, @Mike_FTW. Even more likely, you saw the video of a talk he gave about the importance of having a contract before you do any work, titled “Fuck You, Pay Me.” If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and go watch it now.
First thing first: If you’re already dismissing this review with “I don’t have time to read a book,” know that this book is only 130 pages long. You can read it in just a few bus rides. It costs $18, or you can just come borrow the copy that’s on my desk. (I’m not kidding, please do borrow it, I’ll be thrilled you’re reading it.)
Second thing: If you’re dismissing the book because you’re not a designer, you should know that this book isn’t really about design. It’s about how to be a professional in the design community. It is about how to interact with clients, and how to avoid getting burned when things go wrong. It’s about why clients behave the way they do, and what you can do to keep things going smoothly. It’s aimed at designers, but the lessons apply to everyone. I guarantee that everyone in the sales department will benefit from reading this book just as much as everyone in the development pit.
Here’s a brief quote:
I am tired of seeing you get your ass kicked because no one taught you better. I am tired of you not getting paid. I am tired of you working nights and weekends. I am tired of you doing spec work because someone has convinced you it will look good in your portfolio. I am tired of you sitting by and hoping the work sells itself.
So I wrote you a book. It has a spine, and by the time you’re done reading, so will you.
Companies love talking a studio out of the process that got them to hire them. Which is akin to signing Roy Halladay and then asking him to play the outfield. (Yes, it’s a baseball metaphor — I’ll walk you through it.) Roy Halladay is possibly the greatest pitcher of his generation. He’d be a terrible outfielder. But imagine some VP in the organization decided that since they’d just sunk a lot of money into signing him, they’d better get the most use out of him. So they should put him at a position that plays every day, instead of having him pitch. (Starting pitchers go once every five days.) In this metaphor baseball is standing in for design and the stupid VP is still the stupid VP.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. It’s a quick read, and it’s funny. As you’ve no doubt noticed, Mike writes in a very conversational style, with a liberal sprinkling of curse words. The overall tone is that of a seasoned veteran sharing his hard-earned life lessons. Mike has made all the mistakes he writes about, and he wants to help you avoid them.
In a nutshell, this book will make you better at your job.