Designers constantly get challenged; you have no doubt heard a number of these challenges:
Why can’t you make the logo bigger?
Are you sure the type should be soo small?
What if we added a couple of drop shadows to make it “pop” more?
Clients are very quick to challenge designers on their choices, however the doing the opposite is often met with tension. Because of this tension, some designers eventually give up and let the client dictate the work. We all know the perils of getting into the habit of letting clients dictate projects, however what about taking this scenario a step further and outright challenging our clients?
“SACRED COWS” ARE NOT REALLY THAT SACRED
A designer’s job is theoretically to convey the clients message in the most interesting and effective way possible, even though in actuality this is only 1/10 of our job. In order to do this I have found that it is important to just ask clients outright why they insist on doing something in a particular way. Often times it even escapes them why a particular “sacred cow” has developed. It is this insight which will ultimately allow us to push the project further than would have originally been possible.
PICKING YOUR BATTLES
Picking which battles to fight is often the hardest part of this process. Unfortunately you just aren’t going to win every battle, knowing which ones to focus on and what to challenge in order to have the greatest possible result takes time and practice. Additionally no two clients are the same, some will trust your experience, others will be uncomfortable, and some will become upset. The one thing that keeps me from becoming intimidated, is knowing that if I didn’t challenge my clients then I wouldn’t be delivering the quality of service they deserve.
DON’T FORGET THE WAR
I often suffer from becoming caught up in the current project. What I often forget is that sometimes winning some smaller battles and letting others go can help develop a better working relationship for future projects. The important thing is to realize when a client is growing and developing allong with you. Some clients will never change, but don’t write them all off as a result (this is something I often have to remind myself).
REAPING THE BENEFITS
Challenging your clients will ultimately cause you to walk a road less traveled. In this space of unique insight, designers are able to find unique solutions that go beyond what is both expected and conventional. Finding ways to bring clients out of their comfort zones and not upset them in the process takes time and practice. However, this is a skill that if practiced can really make a large impact on the outcome of your work.