Design Is A Job – Review of Mike Monteiro’s book

Mike Monteiro’s Design Is A Job is such a wonderful book. That sentence is pretty much a warning of things to come: this review is going to be gushing, I’m sorry, but I don’t think you come across a book like this very often.

Design Is A Job covers all the basic areas of working as a designer in client services. Be it working for somebody else, for yourself, or even running a company, there’s advice for everyone in there, and most of it is applicable to all.

Straightforwardly named as they are direct and easy to digest in their structure, the chapters are:

  • What Is a Designer?
  • Getting Clients
  • Choosing the Right Clients
  • Charging for Your Work
  • Working with Contracts
  • Sticking to Your Process
  • Presenting Design
  • Managing Feedback
  • Getting Your Money
  • Working with Others

I’d just got through the first two chapters when I realised this was a book I would read very quickly. Written in such an easy-going, informative yet brilliantly funny way, it didn’t feel like I was reading a book about business, I felt like I was drinking the words.

As a freelance designer, I’d say I’m fairly happy with how I run my business. I’m fairly successful, but this book was full of lessons that I needed to learn. Saying this book had loads of tips would be selling it short, it is filled with stories that Mike has learnt for himself. These are anecdotes to help you understand the reasoning behind his advice, not just ‘do this, do that’ rules. Mike continually emphasises how he’s made most, if not all, of the mistakes he describes. It’s not a matter of shame, it’s about learning and honing our practices.

Sometimes I find books that focus on freelancing hard-going. They don’t fit well with my ethos: the focus is too much on making money, often at the expense of the client. Mike Monteiro is not about that. Mike speaks from a principled standpoint. His work is about making a difference and doing yourself justice. This book isn’t about being ruthless or cynical, Mike explains his approach in a way that comes across as wise and practical.

I was going to recommend this book for people just starting out, but actually I think it should be required reading for everyone. It’s specific enough to be valuable but not so specific that it’s unsuitable for non-web designers. Any kind of designer, and possibly even developers, should be able to learn from this book. Or at least get a much-needed kick to keep their attitudes and egos in check.

Published by Laura

Laura is one of the recently joined nUbelly writers. She's a very friendly and noisy freelance web designer/developer. Since first learning how to build sites (badly, with tables,) she's been mad about the web and the amazing community around it. Her big, but ever-changing, interests are mobile web, lovely semantic HTML, web fonts & WordPress.

4 Comments So Far, what do you think?

  1. Jonic

    Great review Laura :)

    I bought this book the day it came out, but STILL haven’t gotten around to reading it. I might crack open iBooks tonight! I also like you idea about “a chapter a day” to get you inspired in the morning. Any recommendations for books I should pick up?

  2. Joseph

    I ordered the book two days ago and counting from your review, I never made a fail for doing so. Thanks Laura.

  3. Laura

    @Jonic

    If you get on with Design Is A Job, I recommend the other A Book Apart books, as their length makes them very easy to digest. They’re really enough to get a good foundation in their varying topics. Though you may manage a couple of chapters a day of those!

  4. James Idewild

    I’ve read most of the “a book apart” books. I had a hard time getting the good out of the “design is a job” book because the more I read it the more I hated the author. I went to his web site and then really didn’t want to read his book. I don’t find him funny at all.
    He strikes me as very unprofessional, kind of a slob.

    I’m sure I can find this information elsewhere.

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