Historically, a chasm between the designer and the client has always existed. With each new project, a shaky rope-bridge is put up to allow us to meet in the middle. On one side you have a designer – trained in his/her discipline, experienced, passionate and craving that next brief for the portfolio. On the other side, the client – a business person, keen for deadlines to be met on time within budget, and determined to get his/her money’s worth out of any outsourced tasks. Without nurture are these approaches compatible?
As designers we pride ourselves on keeping up-to-date with the latest trends, developments and philosophies. We take confidence sitting atop this inventory, ready to pull out the perfect solution. This is in contrast to the often daunting experience the client can go through. They’re not exactly sure how the process works. They’re on our turf and due to the nature of a design project, won’t be completely sure what end-product they’re getting.
To redress the balance, our client will step up the assertion. Instincts will grow into strict stipulations and influence will be taken from competitor designs. The classic requests of “Can you make the logo bigger?” and “There’s too much white space here, can we fill it with something?” will send a shudder down the spine of any designer. However, are we doing anything to help our clients move past this and allow us more freedom to solve the problem using our own methods and expertise?
It’s arrogant to assume that another’s way of thinking will fit ours by default. We somehow expect a customer to understand our approach without explaining it to them, and then revel in the frustration when they don’t. We want trust and respect, without always stopping to ask ourselves if we’ve done anything to earn it.
Communication is the key to gaining creative license from clients. If we consistently update, explain our thought-processes and generally make them feel part of the project throughout, we will find we’re developing stronger relationships, sharing points of view and finding we’re reaching better end results. If we take the time to strengthen our bridges, we’ll all feel like the divide is disappearing.