I specialize in…everything

design specialization

Would you put your legal case in the hands of a lawyer who claims to specialize in family law, criminal law and civil law?

Or trust a doctor who claims to specialize in cardiology, neurology, psychiatry and urology?

Here’s something I just found that I wrote awhile back and copy-pasted from a job site profile:

I am a Graphic Designer. I specialize in poster, ad, and wallpaper design but I can also design logos, business cards, stationery, reports, presentations, other marketing collateral, websites and banners. I also do photo-manipulations and photo retouching.

It’s the classic newbie mistake of doing business— “specializing” in everything, enumerating all you can do and trying to provide every possible service. I should have stopped at poster design, although of course things have changed a lot since then and I have now moved to logo design.

The field of graphic design is huge and varied. Do you think it would help or hurt your business if you chose just one area and really specialized?

Because for me, if everything was “special”, then nothing is.

What do you think about specialization in design ?


  • June 6th, 2011 /

8 Comments to “I specialize in…everything”

  1. Muneeb Ahmad says:

    Great post Grace!

    This is an issue that has been bugging me for quite a bit actually. Specialization is something that so many designers recommend. Basically focus your strengths on one or two areas to maximize your value. But I personally believe, maybe foolishly, that this doesn’t always have to be the case. For me it seems it could easily be a 50:50 for the majority of designers.

    Those who wish to focus on one or two aspects can become very well placed and be able to raise prices of their services and gain more of a reputation. But those that focus on a wide variety of things can find a large potential client base and have possibly more business thus there is no real need to increase their prices. Obviously this is all in theory. And what about their target audience should those be specialized too? Only offer to business but not general customers? Or vice-versa?

    I myself have wondered what should I do. Currently on my new website (hasn’t launched yet unfortunately, thanks to illnesses 🙁 ) I have specifically aimed my services towards businesses, particularly those who are just starting out or are too small to be able to afford the £170 logos you see on design agencies. So in terms of my target audience I am specializing carefully on a select group of potential clients.

    But in terms of the actual services I am providing, you could say that I am not specialized at all; business card designs, invoice designs, leaflet designs, logo designs and websites (with an option for an accompanying blog). I feel these are the services a new or small business will definitely need and this is why I offer them. And also the fact that I think that I am capable of providing each of them to a high quality standard. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that right? 🙂

    I do get worried sometimes that maybe I am stretching things a bit but then again you do have to take risks at times with any business and this scenario is no different, it is a risk but I think it will work out for me. So really, I think specialization can work fine for some designers but shouldn’t be forced on everyone who has a design service.

    Just my opinions of course, I could be totally wrong for all I know! 😛

  2. Grace Oris says:

    Thank you Muneeb. I hope you’re well on your way to recovery and finally able to get on with your website redesign.

    For my part, I offer other services as well but only hint at it in the initial questionnaire (i.e., Will you be needing stationery, website or other design services?).

    It could work out well for some to offer multiple services of course and if you observe that you are successful at it, I see no reason for you to change your course. But have you thought about doing a sort of A/B test like having a multiple service website and a specialized one? Results might put any doubts to rest. Hmm. 🙂

  3. This is an issue I’ve been struggling with as well as I work (or is that procrastinate?) on a refresh/redesign of my website. I’ve always prided myself in being a jack-of-just-about-anything, but as I work on moving and improving things, I find myself examining my client-based output and compare it against what I want to be doing.

    My goal is to move away from the catch-all designer category, and specialize in those areas I enjoy the most.

    Incidentally, they are packaging and web design… 🙂

  4. Muneeb Ahmad says:

    Thank you Grace for your kind comments. I will definitely have to look into A/B testing. I have heard about it but never really delved too much into it. Thanks for mentioning it. 🙂

  5. Grace Oris says:

    Hi Rafael. All the best as you move into the more specialized packaging and web design areas (both? 🙂 ) Thanks for stopping by.

  6. KC says:

    Hi Grace,

    Great post and very well said. As you stated “Because for me, if everything was “special”, then nothing is.” That’s so true because everything can’t be special. I totally get what you mean. Can you please tell me is it a good idea to specialize in two things or just leave it at one?

    I know what you mean by everything that you wrote but I only have two areas of work that I don’t want to let go of or two areas that I would love to advertise BUT I am willing to let one go. I can do lots of things so how can I let potential clients know this or should I let them only know my specialty and forget the rest. Also how to label this on a website? Can you give me your thoughts on this?

  7. Grace Oris says:

    Thanks KC. I suggest specializing in one and maybe later on, add the other if you are still interested in doing so. I know it’s difficult to decide which one to go with when you can do lots of other things. For my part, I did lots of thinking, and wrote down pros/cons and my strengths/weaknesses in each area. The deciding factor for me came down to which field I found more challenging as opposed to which one I was best at. It’s up to you.

    If you do decide to go with just one, it’s best to put that one on your website. You can mention to your clients afterwards what other things you can do (I do this in the questionnaire—see my reply to Muneeb above) or link to another portfolio site where you display your work that isn’t under the specialty you chose.

    I hope this helps but if you want to discuss further, do send me an email through my contact page.

  8. KC says:

    Thanks Grace for your response. This is something that I really have to think about concerning my career & making improvements. I’m gonna go for the one specialty for now, it’s going to be hard but it’s all for the best. ~KC