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Graphic design: how to be a good client.

June 21, 2011
by walter meregalli on ottobre 29, 2010

A short list of ponts to help the clients understand  us designers – a bunch of selfcentric dawn lovers that often report to an order of their own, but that some time are able to deliver some genius.
Our work is very, very personal and this does not help, let’s say it and one of the goals of this post and of this blog also is trying to shorten the distance between the client and the designer.

Dear colleagues, please take note: OURS IS NOT ART, IS A JOB! in case we forget, we mostly complete projects with a commercial purpose, not art.

Put this, let’s begin… ramdomly!

Dear clients…

  • The 30-minute-job just doesn’t exist – think about it, no REAL job takes less than the famed half an hour, unless you  rare thinking of  attaching  a file to an e-mail or changing  a colour to a background (!).
    It could sound naive but if you, as a client, will remember this, always more and more designers  be happy to work for you, even when you are not offering stacks of gold or the project is just a little more than a school practice.
  • Don’t impose your presence – avoid sitting yourself right behind the shoulders of the designer who’s working on your campaign or on your logo. Take my words, it doesn’t speed things up. On the other hand, talk the desingers into a shared agenda, make sure they respect the deadlines but be clever when it comes to fix them on paper, be functional and never forget your final goal: the success of the project you are commissioning.
    Once the agenda is set and agreed by everyone that takes part in the project,  leave it up to the designers, let them work according to their ways, experience and creative skills.  It’s not your busisness how they work their ways through the agenda’s deadlines. Your only business is the final outcome of the project – the rest should  be up to the people you chose to design for you.
  • Don’t ask for absurd rebates! – I know the idea of saving some extra money sounds electrifying but don’t jeopardise the quality of your project for a few euros. Ask yourself whether that money could negatively influence the final outcome.
  • Allocate proper budgets – always expect the maximum for the money you put down, it’s your damn right! but start the project by allocating budgets to allow the production cycle.
  • Avoid saying “I could do it myself!” – we will always be grateful for that. I believe that is the worst possible way to approach designers and the only reply that is worth saying – and that we don’t say it only for two reasons: respect and fear to lose the job – “then go ahead and do it yourself!”
  • Don’t play the Little Designer game – Designing relies on intuitions, bits you borrow, mutuations, and a lot, really a lot of  intellectual blending.  Starting out staring at the blank page, supported only by the brief document is way too different from moving the elements around.
    Though definitely tempting, avoid playing the little designer and if you do you will often end up with more balanced and professional artworks.
    If you don’t like the solution the designer came up with, if you are not completely convinced… JUST SAY IT! ask for a revision, get back to the brief, don’t play the little designer, let them go back to the project and produce a different solution. Tell them your doubts, express your sensations… you’ll get a better work. Please refrain from saying things like “put this here, move that over there, make it smaller and green…” you won’t get much better results.
  • Be the client – yes, be  the client, to the maximum extent. Be critic, be precise, expect the best for what you pay
  • Let us be the designers – let us do the work we’ve been hired for.
  • Ask for detailed offers – they will help you to understand what you are to buy and also if the agency, the design firm, the free lance really understood your requests. Read carefully all the clauses, especially those concerning the rights for the use of the job you commissioned.
  • Ask always for a contract – see above. A contract protects everyone’s rights, both yours and the designers.
  • Set an agenda – put dates black on white and add comments for each deadlines, if necessary, with names of the people involved. Go by the agenda and stop saying that designers are not organized people!
  • Plan – yes, plan! urgency and stress don’t do any good! I frankly don’t believe that is impossible to plan, sorry but I just don’t believe it.

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