Working with Clients
September 14, 2011 1 Comment
If you have already worked as a Graphic Designer, either as a freelancer or within a company, you already know the difficulties you may face with certain clients. Like in any other career field, you have a client, and a product or service you provide. Sometimes what the client expects or thinks about that product or service, is not actually what the company or freelancer offers. The most important step is to know everything about a project from the very beginning. Also, having constant communication with the client will help with the success of the final product, service or design.
As graphic designers a client generally approaches us with a design problem, and we are required to find a solution. The client is the person who ultimately has the final say on what the product should look like and how it should work, based on their own knowledge of the target audience they are trying to convey a message to. As a graphic designer, you should approach the situation as if you where part of that target audience. The reason is so that you can advise your client on what is the best way to reach their target audience in terms of a good design.
For example, if a client comes to you and asks for a flyer to advertise their online business like an online only shoe retailer, you may suggest that an e-mail advertisement would be best to reach their target audience (clients already using the internet, and on their client database). However, your suggestion may be ignored and the client could still decide to go with the printed flyer. Your job as a designer is to design the flyer and that’s it. If they did not agree with your suggestion, then you should provide what they are requesting from you.
The freedoms you have, as a designer in the process, will depend on each project. Some clients may have no idea what they want their design to look like, and they may tell you to come up with something on your own, and that you may choose colors and everything, so you have a lot of creative freedoms with those clients. Some other clients know exactly what they want and what they want it to look like, and they would even do it themselves if they knew how to use the software, so you may have very limited freedoms with those types of clients. Some clients know more or less what they want, but they need your design expertise to guide them when choosing design elements, typefaces and colors, so you have some limitations and some freedoms with those types of clients. You are most definitely allowed to refuse providing services to certain clients, before beginning to work with them, if what they are trying to create is illegal, or against your beliefs, morals or religion. But you must do so respectfully to their needs, or perhaps suggest a different designer that you know can help with their situation.
Steps to Follow
As a graphic designer, you must plan on taking several steps to assess the situation and the perceived tasks ahead to rectify the situation. First and foremost, you should analyze each project individually to make sure that the project’s extent is within your technical capabilities. Second, you should ensure that you have all the information from the client about the project. Third, you should provide the client with the proper documentation about the project (design brief) and come to a written agreement about the course of action with the client, including the amount of “changes” allowed and charges that go along with those changes. Finally, you should provide a summary after the work was completed to show the client how the design solution successfully solves the design problem.