Clients, to be fair to them, often don’t receive a fair reputation by us design folk. It’s not their fault that they may ask for some silly requests because, unlike us, they haven’t been educated about the foundations of good and bad design. If they had, they wouldn’t need the help of a designer and so it’s part of our job to help guide them through the process. Admittedly, there will be times during a project that any designer may feel the need to strangle a client due to audacious requirements or communication that borders on abuse (see clients from hell for some funny but serious examples).
I’ve decided to help improve the average client’s reputation by giving them some pointers on how to act in a working relationship on a design project. See below:
Provide as many details as you can. A great designer will understand that questions like ‘how much for a logo?’ rely on many variables before an accurate quote can be given. It’s helpful if an in depth explanation of the problem is giving from the offset.
Be enthusiastic about your project. If you’re not excited about what you are doing, don’t expect anyone else to be either.
Don’t be precious about your needs. Be prepared to know what you want but at the same time embrace expert design advice that could be an improvement.
Be willing to invest in great design. Top quality design services don’t come cheap just because a designer enjoys what they do for a living. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Be approachable. We understand that it’s important to remain professional but being overly serious all the time can stifle creativity. Friendly discussion can help to form an improved working relationship.
Recognise and honour professional expertise. It’s cool that you may have designed your own website back in 1994 but we do this professionally every working day. Leave the design work to the experts and enjoy the ride. You wouldn’t suddenly grab the scissors from a professional hairdresser & start cutting your own hair like a maniac would you?
Understand the purpose of a design brief
. If you change your mind about the direction your project is taking, talk to your designer first before making wild requirements that are completely different to the aims and objectives of the design brief. Look. A rainbow.
Respect project timescales. Hearing from a client is always nice but if you are calling every hour to check how we are progressing, it will turn into a living nightmare for a designer. Give them time to work their magic.
We appreciate that from time to time certain situations arise where you are not able to respond as quickly as you had like. If this happens just let your designer know why this is this case. Making up excuses won’t help any working relationship & honesty is always respected.
Please don’t get family members involved. It doesn’t really matter what your Aunt Nelly thinks about design.
If you don’t like something tell us why. Great designers give reasons for their design decisions so we expect the same of your opinions. Three word answers aren’t helpful to the process.
Take your time and think. A lot of time and effort will have gone into designing a solution that the designer answers your design brief. Evaluating the proposed concept as a whole and considering the view of the target audience may make you see things differently compared to making a knee-jerk reaction.
Always meet payment schedules and deadlines. If your designer makes an effort to deliver the work on time then it’s only fair that they should be paid within the agreed timescale. We have to eat as well as draw pretty pictures all day.
Exchanging services is sometimes accepted as payment by designers but don’t be disrespectful. Offering ‘good exposure and future opportunities’ doesn’t put food on the table.
Don’t expect us to work for free. Though pro-bono work for worthy causes is often accepted. (by worthy causes – that’s registered charities etc, not ‘Dave’s new logo fund’.
I’m sure every designer will be able to add at least one piece of advice to clients to this list. Please feel free to do so below.