Client Tips

A Guide to THE BEST Client-Designer Relationship

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1. ARE YOU ON THE SAME PAGE?

The words, “I don’t know why, but I just don’t like it.” will result in your designer giving you an eye roll behind your email or phone call. When providing feedback, it’s important that you both are clear on what exactly you’re looking at. Are you giving input on the color scheme or font choices? What about the message and branding? Or the imagery used? Or are you just not liking an entire project because of one little thing?

Even being aware of whether or not the images and content are placeholders can be a big deal. I’ve had so many clients who immediately say they don’t like the photo on a website comp, which was really just a placeholder and was going to be changed anyway. Relax, and let’s figure out what we’re talking about first. See the big picture!

Bad: “What do you think?”

“I like it.” or “I don’t like it.”

Good: “First, let’s go over the overall look and feel of this brochure and we’ll go from there. 

“Awesome – I’m not sure if the outside looks very welcoming, however. I want avoid any black or dark imagery.

2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TELL THE DESIGNER THE TRUTH

Don’t worry! As much as I’d love it if you were ecstatic about the design from the jump, the reality is that doesn’t always happen and I’m used to hearing criticism. I promise you, you won’t hurt my feelings if what you have to say isn’t all roses and sunshine. Just don’t be a jerk about it; I still spent blood, sweat, and tears on this design for you.

Bad: “Yeah, I guess this will work.”

Good: “I appreciate how much effort you’ve put into researching my competitors. But I’m worried that this looks a little too much like some of the stuff they’re doing.” SCRATCH THAT! I never get to hear this – sadly I hear more, “Hey, this guy has this logo – can we copy that?” The answer is no, we cannot!

3. YOUR LOGO, WEBSITE, ETC IS NOT FOR YOU…

I know this is hard, but try to not bring any personal biases into the design presentation. Remember, you are not your business. It is a separate entity, with its own goals and needs. Remember what those are, and stick to them. The person your design product needs to be appealing to is…your potential customer.

Bad: “I really just don’t like blue. It reminds me of blueberries, and I hate blueberries.”

Good: “Although I personally don’t care for blue, I know our company stands for trust, loyalty, and security. Does blue do that?”

4. ASK QUESTIONS

There is no such thing as a stupid question. Well, there are, but not during design presentation and feedback. It’s a safe space. The reason you hired me is because I know about design – if you have a question, I’m more than happy to explain anything and actually welcome you wanting to know – it means you care about your business and design product.

5. BE THE PROBLEM MAKER, NOT SOLVER

Like we’ve been talking about, your job as the client is to clearly define the problem for the designer. The designer’s job is to find the solution. Avoid giving direction whenever possible (unless it’s a very specific project), and instead tell the designer what issue you might be having, and trust them to fix it.

Bad: “Can you move that button up and to the right? And make it bigger? And red?”

Good: “I’m worried that people won’t see the button. What would you recommend to make it more prominent?”

 

6. DO NOT TRY TO DO THE DESIGNER’S JOB

This is about the worst thing a client can do, is when they take it upon themselves to design a comp or a mockup of exactly what they’re looking for. As tempting as it is, don’t.

I’ve never seen a client be happy with the results, and they often wonder why the design still isn’t working. In fact, some designers charge extra when a client does this, and am considering adding this to my rules—maybe. Leave designing to the design professionals.

If you must, provide some examples of outside designs that give the same impression you’d like, and explain what it is about them that seems to work.

Bad: “I drew a rough sketch of what I’m looking for!”

Good: “Since our target market is very technologically advanced, and into what’s new, we would like the website to be trendy and ‘minimalistic’ with a lot of white space…kind of like how ____ or _____ are doing theirs.”

 

7. MAKE IT POP – DESIGNER GOES POP!

If I hear the words, “make it pop,” one more time, I swear I’m going to pop. I kid, but seriously, please do not resort to using tired phrases to communicate with your designer. We hear them all the time, and frankly, no one knows what the hell “make it pop” even means anyway.

Bad: “Make the logo bigger.”

Good: “We would like more emphasis on the logo. It seems to be getting lost at the moment and is hard to see.”

8. DON’T LET A COMMITTEE GET INVOLVED

Even worse than, “Make it pop!” is “Let me ask my wife.” Often times when working with bigger companies, I hear, “So John in accounting thinks the logo should be more round and happy, but Lisa in marketing thinks it should be sharp and edgy…can we compromise?” Ah, compromise, the pinnacle of my life. Again refer to #6.

If you must get feedback from several people, select only a few key players, and ask directed questions, like, “does this logo communicate strength?” or, “would these colors resonate with kids?”

Avoid asking them openly what they think, because everyone will feel like they get to chime in and play designer since they don’t have to directly communicate with me. Compile their feedback into a coherent list, and decide what is important and what is not (hint: you’ll be taking a lot of feedback with a grain of salt). Then present that list to your designer, and together you can go over it and discuss whether or not that input is appropriate for the brand.

Make sure your designer has only one point of contact (you); nothing is worse than getting conflicting input from several different people. This will almost ALWAYS delay your project.

9. ASK THE DESIGNER THEIR PROFESSIONAL OPINION

Here’s a wild thought…try asking the designer what they think.

Now this was hard for me at first, I’ll admit. The first time a client asked me honestly my opinion of the final result – I nearly fell out of my chair and had to hold my open jaw shut for an hour. We were reviewing some logo designs, and had narrowed it down to two, and he asked me, “in your professional opinion, which one do you think will resonate more with our target audience, and why?” So I told him, honestly what I thought, he listened, and basically was thinking the same thing.

I really feel that together we arrived at the best possible decision for his new logo. Now, you don’t always have to just go along with what the designer says, but you might be surprised at what they have to say. When all is said and done, they are the design experts, and ultimately you should trust their judgment. If you don’t then something’s wrong.

FOLLOW THOSE RULES AND YOU WILL BE KING!

If you follow this advice next time you meet or talk with your designer, not only will you be their favorite client for all eternity, you’ll also end up with a more successful, and strong, design. Believe it or not I’m fueled by your passion and drive to help your startup or established business. The more excited you are about where your business could go – the more inspired I will be to give you my 110% work. I want to hear that you want more orders on your eCommerce site – and how can I help. I want to hear your expanding and hosting events, so you need a ton of advertising to get the word out.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What sort of feedback do you appreciate, if you’re a designer? If you’re a client, what words or phrases have helped you the most in getting your point across? Have you been guilty of letting personal bias into your feedback? Do you need a freelance graphic designer in your life now that you got the rules down (ok, not THE RULES — but suggestion for healthy relationship)? Contact 8 Create today about what project you need!

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