Apoor working relationship is right up there when it comes to what makes work unbearable. In a partnership between designer and client, there are sometimes blurred boundaries about who is calling the shots. It breeds animosity which results in a difficult relationship.
You may have been employed to bring some creativity to the table, but you find your ideas come up against a client who thinks they know best. You might see your carefully decided desires undermined by a designer who “just feels” that their way is the way to go.
Sound familiar? Well, we have put together a list of good practice to follow and ensure you have a good client - designer relationship.
From the first moment, establish a culture of engaged and productive dialogue between both parties. This could mean face-to-face, phone calls or even emails. Make sure you are transparent with your timings and workload to avoid future disappointments.
Make sure that the client can define their desires, as well as clear and definable goals and deadlines. The former should be achievable and measurable, whilst the latter should be realistic, documented and stuck to.
That means NO late work submissions or requests! Yes, I’m looking at you at the back.
This idea hinges on using feedback effectively. Make sure both parties can feedback to each other their thoughts on ideas and what’s produced, before making sure this feedback is put into action. See what our clients have had to say about us.
On the designer’s part, this means truly listening to what the client wants to achieve and balancing this against what you think is best for them. At the end of the day, they are the ones spending money on the project.
As client, you should be considerate that you are paying for a creative agency’s input and skills. They will have experience of what works and what doesn’t.
All of that said, it should be a collaborative process too.
It should be a two way process. One is the expert and the other is the boss. Challenge each other (nicely!) and it should result in a more professional and productive relationship.
There might be times when designers are critical of themselves and the client too, but it shows a strong, professional grounding that both sides can trust.
If the client’s goals and targets are achieved through discussion during the process, they will appreciate it. Even if it may not seem so at the time, the designer will too once they keep being employed for future work.
Whilst creating an agreed work schedule and deadlines is a must, you both also need to be flexible. There could be other factors in play that you aren’t necessarily made aware of; cash flow, market changes, external influences, long term strategies. These decisions are bigger than deadlines. Sometimes, we just need to take our humble pie and adapt.
Without teaching you how to suck eggs, I should just mention the obvious; deliver on time. No client can find fault with that. Just make sure your deadlines are achievable when they’re agreed. Clients; make sure your sudden deadlines are fair and reasonable.
Leading on from that, sometimes you may have to say “no”. It’s better to say no at the outset than be unable to deliver something and leave a somebody disappointed. Again, it shows you to be responsible, professional and trustworthy. It also avoids wasted work and time. Win, win, win.