This Is What Happens When A Client Tells YOU How To Design


I received an interesting string of questions from Wendy, a 21-year-old student currently studying a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.

She said she was a little bit lost as to where she stands as a designer and explained how she never ended up loving her final designs when a project is completed with a client.

First of all, designing for clients is an art.

I think of myself as a part-time salesperson as the majority of my time with clients is spent pitching and guiding the client to accept that my design is PERFECT – This is about getting them to see that your design satisfies their requirements and contains everything they want!

Wendy further explained that what she creates for clients is not something she'd showcase in her own portfolio – Could this be because the client is telling her how to design?

When I first began designing I wanted to avoid conflict and, as a result, caved to my clients at the slightest sign of disagreement, rather than spend time trying to convince them that I stand on the right side of the design decision.

Below is a logo development project from my early junior days. The word hate doesn’t totally describe the emotions I have towards it. First of all, why the fuck did I design TEN different iterations of the first design? That's three times over the limit! You should be making it clear to your clients that 2-3 iterations is all that they are entitled to. Don't overwork yourself like I did.

There is a special place in hell for these designs:



Confidence is key.

The slightest display of doubt could spell danger.

The more confident you are in your abilities and skills, the less likely you will allow yourself to get pushed around on a design decision, especially if you are trying to convince them that the design no longer needs any tweaking. Remind your clients why they hired you. You didn't study design for 4 years for fun, did you?

I used to get so defensive when a client critiqued my work but now I know that's just my ego reacting. Listen to your clients feedback and make sure you show that you understand, even if you don't agree, educate your client on the design choices you made and the practical reasons behind them.

You need to know, clients don't speak our language, they have a business mindset. So, talk business, not style.

As designers, we love to brag about how aesthetic our designs are, but that's when we loose our clients attention. Keep your discussions on the business end of decision-making. Clients are focused on their market, their customers and their money.

For Example: When I pitched the Sentro Steat logo [displayed below], I insisted to my client that their customers (and even the Sentro Streat team) at their food park would definitely catch on to the rock hand sign, and that the logo I designed for them was literally in their customers hands!

This is how I showed my client that I have considered the perspective of the end user, the people who will be the recipient of the design. THIS makes good business sense to them. THIS is how you talk business!

At the end of the day, the client makes the final call. So don't challenge them, don't be dismissive and, most importantly, don't take it personally. The client is never attacking you, they genuinely care for the project, so don't let your ego show.

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