A Good Designer-Client Relationship: 4 Aspects of a Good Web-Design Client
Posted by justin on Feb. 2, 2014, 5 p.m.
A lot of things get me excited and inspired about design: classic movie posters, the simplicity of a Stormtrooper helmet, and hand-lettered window signage are a few of them. I really appreciate the clean efficiency of Braun products, as each feature is easy to understand and use; nothing seems haphazardly tacked on.
When designing websites, I also have some things that get me excited about my clients. Every client has their good features, but my favorites generally have the following attributes:
1. Trust in the design process
No one likes a micro-manager, and I’m no different. My favorite clients have an idea of what they are looking for, but they are also willing to compromise and trust me when I advise them to go a certain direction. For me, it’s best when a client gives me a couple examples of things they like and things they don’t like. This gives me much better insight into their company than a mission statement alone could. From there, I can determine their aesthetic and give them a few options that I think they will like.
2. A clear audience profile
It can be hard to design an effective (and affective) site without a target audience. A client should really consider who they are trying to reach and what might be important to that audience. With information like this, I can design something that meets the needs and expectations of the ideal audience. Without this direction, I’ll put together a zim-zam-zimmity-good-lookin’ site, but it may not quite resonate with users or bring you the business you want.
3. A sense of adventure (within reason)
When you’re getting a new website, it’s great to be excited to try new things. I love the opportunity to experiment with some of my favorite design trends (lately, the wave of flat design). However, it can be easy to get caught up in the wave of fads. One of my biggest pet peeves is packing loads of fads into a single website, when none of them really serve a purpose. Flat design? Great! CSS transitions? Sure thing! Slideshows within slideshows (within slideshows)? Well, uh… Pop-overs with facetwit login and share buttons? I don’t know if we.... What about a secondary top nav that bounces in to the sound of “Good Vibrations”? OKAY, COME ON NOW. Good design involves each feature and aspect working in perfect harmony, fitting together to form one complete whole.
4. Willingness to compromise
Every client relationship I have usually starts the same way: I have ideas of what I think they should do, and they have ideas of what they ultimately want. What happens next can make the relationship an enjoyable or a stressful one. Both I and the client need to be willing to compromise on some things. It’s important to focus on the primary goal of the website -- everything else should be negotiable, and both the client and I have to be willing to leave some things off the table. If I force a particular design on a client, they end up with a site they don’t like or understand. If the client won’t budge on, say, adding those adorable kitten images to the background, then it stifles my creativity, and the end result is a design that may not have reached its potential. So let’s work together … for a stronger, better, more kitten-y Internet!
Image By xavax (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons