I recently came across a website entitled Clients from Hell which was posted on one of my favourite design blogs – Swiss Miss. The website is a forum for designers to post the stupid and sometimes impossible things their clients have said to them. After reading some of the posts (and having a bit of a chuckle) I noticed a common thread running through them all – the ‘stupidness’ of the client generally stemmed from a lack of understanding about what a designer does and more accurately a lack of clear communication between the client and designer.
Some of this frustration is inevitable. A client doesn’t need to know the intricacies of what a designer does – that’s what they pay them for. However at the same time a basic understanding and clear communication can go a long way to ensuring your job goes smoothly. Here are some tips to making sure your job goes without a hitch:
● Get the brief right – Even if you don’t know what you want the end result to be you should have a clear understanding of what you are trying to communicate or achieve with the work you are commissioning.
● Provide the correct specs – Find out (or get the contact details for someone who knows) the technical specs. Having correct sizes, production requirements, colour specs etc. at the beginning can make a huge difference
● Set a budget and be realistic about it – sometimes it is worth spending a bit extra to get that wow factor. If the budget is tight, be realistic about what can be achieved within it.
● Think like a consumer – when critiquing work, look at it like you are the target audience. Throw your personal taste out the window – what you like may be the complete opposite of what your consumer likes.
● Have some idea about what is technically possible – although the production world has come a long way in the past few years not everything is possible. Understanding these limitations is vital to ensuring no one is
● Set your own deadlines – if you are responsible for providing photographs, copy, contacts etc. make sure they are done on time so that you are not responsible for holding a job up.
● Allow realistic deadlines – plan your work in advance and allow for realistic timeframes, other clients have deadlines too and things can’t always be dropped to get your work done immediately. If any form of production is involved allow adequate time for this to be completed before the deadline.
● Use common sense – the ‘gobbledy-gook’ placeholder text and the watermarked low-res images aren’t what you will get in the final artwork, they are there for demonstration purposes only.
● Provide constructive criticism – comments like ‘I don’t like it’ or ‘make it better’ are futile. Explain what it is you don’t like or how you feel it could be better so that you and your designer are on the same page and can get the result you are both after.
● Trust your designer – they know their stuff, it’s what you are paying them for, so leave them to it.
Making a job run smoothly is the responsibility of the client and designer. Our discovery process is one way we have overcome this barrier at Jack in the box. We know that with clear communication from both sides there is no reason why anyone should ever be considered a ‘client from hell’.