Recently I posed a simple question to a group of local designers: What do you wish your client knew? Within minutes my Slack feed was churning with responses. Some were well-reasoned and detailed. (Design isn't magic. It's strategic. This response went on to include multiple well argued bullet points). Some answers were snarky. (Net 30 means f*ing net 30). Every answer was achingly familiar. So in honor of my designer friends who are in the trenches every day I offer the following.
1. Don’t send that email telling me that your are ignoring my recommendations and by all means don’t close by sending me a google image search to incorporate into my latest concept. (Or the variation where you ask me to combine two or three concepts.) When you do this you are making it clear that you don’t understand the design process and likely you have fallen into the trap of #2 below. [Don’t underestimate my expertise.]
2. Please engage in the process. When you don’t/won’t/can’t take the time to talk through your project, or when you tune out during a meeting—you are wasting time and jeopardizing our outcome. The whole reason we have come together is to solve your problem. If you don’t actively participate I can’t build an understanding of your business and what motivates you and your customer. [Don’t make me feel like an outsider.]
3. Don’t turn to others not involved in our project for opinions and then share those opinions with me. Your spouse’s/childrens’/neighbor’s input is generally ill-informed and naive—they haven’t seen the research, explored the market your work will appear in or thought about the project from the customers point of view. On the other hand, you have paid me to do research and bring my expertise to bear. And while we are creating aesthetic solutions there is a solid underpinning of understanding that those not involved are not privy to. [Design is not superficial—it is a solution to an underlying problem.]
4. When I present a concept remember that I am presenting designs that are based upon research and an active design process—what I feel best solves your business challenges. Remember when you approved the design brief that outlined the project parameters including the audience you are trying to appeal to? Chances are that you are not in your target audience. You may not like funky type and bright colors. But perhaps that will work best with your audience. [Remember to reflect upon the project's goals.]
5. Remember there are many ways to solve every problem. I’m recommending the best solution I have come up with in our time frame. Design is a process and I am running a business. The process cannot be an open-ended proposition that continues until you see exactly what you want. If I commit to presenting up to three concepts and you still want to see more—the clock starts running and you will be charged my hourly rate. And you are responsible for it. [You have to respect my need to run a business.]
I promise you that we are in this together. I value your work and I look forward to partnering with you to create award-winning and problem-solving work. I respect you and your business and I care deeply about the trust you place in me. I will do my best to create design that solves your business challenges.