The relationship between designers and clients can be symbiotic and rewarding. However, anyone that has been in this position before can tell you it can also be incredibly frustrating at times. The reason this happens lies in the inherent nature of the situation. Clients have to hand over control of something that they would rather do themselves. These are most often small business owners who are used to doing everything themselves. So then comes the time to look for a professional. But that doesn’t mean they just hand over all control. Clients still want to be involved. They still have their vision, they just lack the technical skills to bring it to life.

(Enter the designer)

Designers consider themselves artists. They feel they have the experience and natural eye for all things aesthetic. Whether they admit it or not, most designers will trust their own creative ability above their clients.

So here is the problem broken down:

  1. The client wants to have as much creative control as possible.
  2. The designer wants to have as much creative control as possible.
  3. The client and the designer will rarely have the same creative style

The biggest issue here is trust. Designers need to trust that the client has some inside information that can be useful. They should also understand that they need to prove to the client that their creative experience should be trusted. Any consultations should be well prepared and professionally carried out. This level of preparation will let the client know that you are capable and committed as much as they are. Which in turn will help ease their need to tweak and change every product you send them. The next biggest thing you can do is to involve them as much as possible by taking them on your journey of creative creation. Explain to them why you chose the font or colors you did. Tell them what worked and what didn’t work. By doing so the client will feel as though they have been a part of the process.

In the end clients want the best final product possible. The intuitive way for clients to think is that to get the best final product they need to micromanage to make sure it comes out as perfect as possible. There are a couple flaws with this thinking. The first of which is that freelance designers are just that freelance. They work for themselves. This means they don’t often respond well to someone telling them picking over their work with a pair of tweezers.

I don’t mean to imply that designers shouldn’t be accountable to the client. The client should always have the final say for the things they pay for. The thing the client should understand is that they are not the design professionals. They might know mattresses or hair care or pencils or whatever it may be, but at the end of the day they are hiring the designer for their ability to design, not just the ability to move a mouse and be told where to move it.

Essentially, if clients want better designs they should do their best to point their designers in the right direction and then let them do what they love to do. Get them excited about their work. Give them constructive feedback. Keep the relationship positive and your end products will be better.

Designers: remember not to hold it against your clients when they want to contribute. Clients: try to be objective when you want to make the logo pink and the designer thinks it looks better blue. If both sides trust one another they can have a fruitful and beneficial relationship that leaves everyone smiling.

Jesse Cooke

Author Jesse Cooke

More posts by Jesse Cooke

Leave a Reply