Oh, revisions. We’ve all experienced them, and it’s safe to assume that every designer hates them. We’ve read blog posts about how much they suck, especially when the designer has dedicated hours (or even days!) of their time and effort into getting the job done right. And then, some antagonist in the client meeting – maybe a spouse or a relative, or just someone who knows absolutely nothing about design – butts in with a tactless opinion that the client takes seriously, and there you have it! It’s back to the workstation with you as you try to accommodate their requests.
You know how it ends up. It never makes the design any better – it justgives way to the weird preferences of all these non-designers on your committee. But sometimes, this may not be true. Who knows, maybe you’re the one with your head in the clouds here.
Today, we’re going to explore 5 essential things designers never seem to want to hear from their clients – or from anybody else, for that matter – when it comes to revising their work.
Do You Get the Message?
When you’re faced with one revision request after another, it could be possible that there’s communication error in play somewhere. It could be that you’re misreading the brief, your client is unclear on what he wants, or maybe it’s a combination of the two.
It’s easy to assume that the client is, by default, the dummy when it comes to design, but sometimes, a simple oversight on your part may be all you’re missing to help bring everyone back to the same page with your design.
For instance, if your client is being unclear about the specifics of the design, it may be because you’re asking the wrong questions or that your questions are just as unclear. Make sure you have a checklist of questions. If you need more specific answers, revise some of the questions in your list. Even if they’re broken down to the point of silliness, whatever helps get the point across to both you and the client is important for a successful designer-client relationship.
Get in Your Client’s Head
You need to know what’s going on in your client’s head and know exactly what he needs. This can cut down as much as 80% of revision requests, if not more. You can’t do this with too broad a selection of clients, which is why you need to determine your target client market early in the game.
It’s good practice to focus on one client type at a time because you’ll know exactly how to serve them. You’ll know their needs and their target audience inside out. You’ll know how to make them as much money with your designs as possible.
You need to do the same thing with your own niche. Using your portfolio as a screening tool helps to send only those clients your way that you can best help. So be careful with the work you display online.
Be a Good Salesperson
Design is a business, and business is about selling. You need to be able to sell your ideas to your clients so that they fully understand what you have to offer. If you can’t properly sell a client on what you want to accomplish, find a way to improve this skill.
Any person can learn to sell. In fact, we all sell on a regular basis every day. However, there are some people who need extra help with particulars like body language, tone of voice, and clarity, among others.
There are a lot of resources online to help you improve your presentation skills, but the number one most important skill you can have as a designer is writing. If you can write down your goals for a certain project so other people can easily grasp them, you’ll be 99.9% successful on a client meeting.
Before briefing your clients, read what you’re going to say to a friend or family member to get their perspective. If a non-designer can understand your point, then your client probably will, as well.
The Client Could Be Right, After All
Not all clients are ignoramus who know nothing about design. Sometimes, they make good points. As a designer, nothing is more annoying than a client who thinks he knows more about design than you do. After all, there’s a reason why he hired you to do this job, isn’t there?
But then again, as a design client, a designer who’s arrogant and condescending about their superior design knowledge is even more annoying. This could be just as irritating as a client’s ignorance. In fact, it could be even worse, since as a designer, you should know better.
The key is to be able to tell when your client’s ideas are good, and when you need to stand your ground and say no – politely. This is another problem on your end, though. If you can’t be bothered to educate yourself and hone your design instincts, then clients are going to walk right over you and the end-product will greatly suffer.
Some Revisions Come with a Purpose
First of all, I’m not talking about the types of revisions that are, in fact, downright ridiculous. Everyone can tell when a client is crossing the line from ‘trying to be helpful’ into ‘totally illogical’. If you think this often happens with the same client, the best thing to do is to walk away. Seriously, it’s not worth the headache to try to please someone whose expectations are so far-fetched!
Who’s in the wrong here? There might be times when the fault lies in you. Learn to accept suggestions that actually help improve some aspect in the design. Maybe that font was too unreadable by the client’s target audience, or maybe those navigation buttons really weren’t in the best location for conversion rates.
There’s a saying that “if you look all around you and can’t find the problem, it’s probably you.” So make sure to check to see whether the client (or someone else) actually doesn’t have a good point before you proceed to shoot them down.