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Should I do what the client wants or what I want?

Should I do what the client wants or what I want?

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Just wondering… – Introducing the new series Just Wondering which consists of posts featuring sometimes precise, sometimes vague questions that plague the minds of some designers, freelancers, business owners and/or entrepreneurs. The answers I will provide in this series are a mixed bag of personal and professional opinions. And like all the content you will find on this blog, feel free to take it or leave it. After all, there are many paths to success. Just Wondering is composed of observations and it is meant to be a guide.

Design Suicide

You know, that moment when the client tells you with enthusiasm what he expects his website to look like, providing you with a limited (or ugly) color palette, and shows you his favorite websites, each one of them more boring than the one before? Yes, that moment when this thought crosses your mind: “Oh boy… How can I ever make this looks pretty? He’s asking for a miracle…”.

We are torn, ripped in two because we want so bad to produce something beautiful and comprehensive, as it is afterall our passion as designers and creators, but also because we are indirectly told not to, with all these restrictive instructions… The more we look at the client’s guidelines, the more all we see is a design suicide.

Should we design what the client wants or what we think would look best? To that tough question I answer: both.

Recommend but do not impose

The client pays and expects to see their ideas executed. It’s perfectly natural. So it would be a mistake to ignore their wishes. However, nothing stops you from creating alternative suggestions which will surpass the original proposal in terms of beauty and efficiency. In those alternative designs, you can break the rules and explore new territories, while taking into consideration at least some of the clients’ wishes. It will also be crucial to take time to explain how those variants are more successful and how they will benefit the client. You must be very careful not to offend the client in the process however as that could lead to the end of the project…

Ultimately, it will be the client’s choice. So don’t beat yourself up if your idea is dismissed and they opt for the most boring option. The important is the client’s satisfaction. If you come to hate the result but the client is happy, you will still have succeeded somewhere. And if you really can’t look at what you’ve done, simply avoid including it in your portfolio… or anywhere else.

Still feeling guilty for giving birth to a monstrosity? Redeem yourself by creating something awesome the next time!

About the author

Tina Mailhot-Roberge is a graphic designer, web designer and illustrator located in Montreal, Canada. She holds a BFA in Design from Concordia University and practices her craft professionally since 2007 .

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