(I saw this on Veerle's Blog and decided to post it here)
Not so long ago I received a few e-mails from beginning designers who asked my opinion about the value of a designer versus a programmer. They said that they often got the reaction from programmers that a designer is less valuable and that the hourly rate should be much less then what a programmer charges.
Well, I don't agree on that. Of course there are exceptions (like specialist in certain areas), but in general like for instance a back-end programmer versus a designer of a website, I think about them as equal value. Of course price setting depends on the type of job, how much experienced and how talented you are. Those are the most important factors. At least that's how I see it. But of course if you are still a beginning designer this is often a harder nut to crack because then it mostly depends on how desperate you need the job. If I see how much I charge now compared to what I charged in the early days, there is a huge gap. It's a struggle those first few years between deciding on not going too low and being reasonable. Charging too low almost always backfires if a client asks you do another similar job.
But this remark wasn't only about the money, it got also to do with the value of the job in general. Some people are convinced (unfortunately for them I would say) that design is just less important then the 'engineering' part. If you think about this in general, then this would mean that the design or the look doesn't matter much. If the engine is OK then why bother about esthetics? Wrong. For example let's take a car with the best engineering in the world but with a ugly body, would you buy such a car? OK, maybe a drastic example, but still, it matters more then we think. It's in everything. It's not only important for a website project. Same goes for the interface of an operating system or an application. These things need to be intuitive and user-friendly. Design can do so, without the correct design functionality is lost... the user is lost. Both need to go hand in hand, they both need each other. That's how I think about it. I certainly don't think less of the engineering or development part of a job or product. Maybe you can argue about this, since in some areas design matters more then in others. But if you think just globally in our every day life, design plays a big part.