Design insights & tutorials.

Thoughts on Design Integrity. Getting what you want from your client

thoughts-on-integrity

You’ve just been given a project and the client has made a list of demands that will surely result in a total design failure. Your integrity as a good designer is on the line… …WHAT DO YOU DO?

Manage the client’s expectations BEFORE the project brief is even written. In an IDEAL world, the battle over a client’s expectations is begun during the very first meeting. This often means that the sales person – not the designer – must start this fight. This is not an easy task. Most clients come to a design firm with some idea of what they want. And a sales person’s job is doubly difficult because they’re busy trying to sell too. The added task of managing a client’s expectations is often times in direct conflict with making the sale.

What a client wants to hear is: “Wow, brilliant idea. We can execute that design, no problem.” not: “These ideas suck. You should let one of our designers make something better.” But whenever possible, a sales person should start by hyping the designer’s expertise and suggesting that the client should open their mind to a design that may not fit exactly with what they have set in their mind… …in an ideal world that is.

talk-to-client

Talk to the client immediately. So, the sales person did their best, but the project brief is still chock full of horrible ideas. Don’t hesitate. Don’t start designing. Don’t pass go. Do not collect $200. Proceed directly to your phone and call the client. This conversation needs to take place immediately. Now is the time to get the client on your side. Pitch your ideas, explain why your ideas are better than theirs.

Give the customer what they ask for. Or, more to the point: Give the customer what they EXPECT. Now, I know this statement is a bit of hot button, at least it is at Go Media. Let me explain.

Imagine that you pull into a McDonald’s drive through and you order a Big Mac. You pay your money and leave. As you drive down the street you open your bag and inside you find a McChicken sandwich and a note: “I know you ordered a Big Mac, but this chicken sandwich is much healthier for you. So, you should eat it instead.” How would you feel? Personally, I would probably be feeling rage boiling up inside of me. “Son of a BITCH!” I’d be thinking. “I JUST PAID!!! I asked for a Big Mac… nobody said anything to me when I ordered and now I have a fricking McChicken sandwich. I already PAID for a frickin’ BIG MAC. Who are they to tell me what is best for me?”

Is the note wrong? No, not necessarily. A Chicken sandwich IS healthier than a Big Mac. I probably SHOULD eat the chicken sandwich. That’s not why I’m mad. I’m mad because I had an expectation. And the jerks at McDonald’s just insulted me by ignoring my request and essentially saying to me: “You don’t know what’s best for you.” Well, isn’t that arrogant! They don’t know every aspect of my life. Maybe I’m dying of cancer and this Big Mac is my last meal.

In the same way, we must respect our customers. Yes, many customers are idiots that ask for retarded design things that are probably bad for them. But we STILL must pay them the respect of not immediately assuming that we know what is best for them.

Have you researched their customer base? Do you know their entire marketing plan? Have you used their product? And if you’re going to do something different than what they asked for, you need to manage their expectations BEFORE you start showing them proofs. If you don’t follow directions you’re going to piss them off 99% of the time. So make the call and have the conversation. Pay them that respect at least.

show-them2
Show them. Ok, so you got the customer on the phone, they still think they know best and want it THEIR way. Remember: your design integrity is on the line. We can’t give up yet.

Here is where your mettle is tested. How far are you willing to go to defend your integrity? Sometimes you have to spend your own time (unpaid by the customer) to mock up a SECOND design. This will give you the opportunity to actually SHOW them the better design.

It’s important to make your design the second of two. The first one still needs to be your best version of what they’ve asked for. In this way you haven’t insulted them. It would be like having that McDonald’s employee show you the beautiful, juicy chicken sandwich and saying: “Are you suuuuure you want to eat that greasy burger? Look at this tender juicy chicken sandwich. I have the Big Mac ready for you if you really want it, but this chicken sandwich has half the fat and calories!”

Accept the challenge. Nothing is impossible! So, nothing you’ve said or showed them can change their mind. They still want their list of demands met. So, you have to ask yourself: How good of a designer are you? The client has just presented you with an amazing challenge. They’ve given you a long list of demands that would normally result in a horrible design.

So, do you accept this challenge of giving them what they ask for AND still making a good design? It may take a lot of extra work and mental strain. But that’s what we’re paid to do – to come up with solutions to problems. Are you going to work the challenge or do you just give up – declare the client an idiot and walk away frustrated.

The choice is yours. If you are quick to give up, maybe you’re not as good of a designer as you think. Time to get behind the mule and plow.

no-beans

No beans, what now? You’ve done everything in your power to make a good design. You’ve pitched them on your ideas. You’ve shown them a better solution. You worked their horrible ideas for hours and hours. You’re at the very end of your rope and the design still sucks. What now? What do you do? Do you “sell-out” and give them a horrible design, or do you stick to your principles, refund their money and tell them politely that you refuse to work with them?

Well, if you’re on your own this is a personal choice. Thousands of “starving artists” live meagerly and never budge on their design (artistic) principles. Some designers may even become rich and famous by sticking strictly to their principles, always doing their work 100% their way with no compromise.

In my experience, designers are still subject to the golden rule: the person with the gold makes the rule. Translation: At the end of the day, the paying client makes the final decisions. The designers that get their way most of the time, are the ones that are the BEST at pitching their ideas and selling them to the customer. If you want to do things your way – I suggest working very hard on your people skills and practice the art of pitching!!

William Beachy

I always try to do good design, despite the challenges my ignorant clients give me. I pitch good ideas when I have them, but I also pick my battles. At the end of the day I have a mortgage, staff payroll, and a pile of other bills to pay. I don’t feel like I’ve sold my soul to the devil if I execute a bad design for pay.

Some people dig ditches or clean sewers to make a living. I’m a graphic designer. Most of the time I’m very proud of the work I do, but occasionally it’s a dirty job too.

















Oliver Barrett

I believe that when a client comes to us for work, they aren’t just paying for the final product. Aside from the obvious production work, they’re paying for research, conceptualization, and our opinion. I like to see what improvements can be made to a client’s idea in order to achieve the best results possible. I like to approach each project as if it could be a potential showcase piece, so I want it to be as good as possible. Sometimes that involves pushing the client in a new direction.

I like to think that I’m pretty good at pitching new ideas and getting the client excited, but sometimes the client doesn’t want to change. You have to learn when you can influence the client to move in a new direction and when to back off and give the client what they want. I find the best way to influence a client is call them on the phone and talk about what you’d like to do with their project, in addition to showing them what they had originally asked for. After talking on the phone, send them a follow up email with some samples so that they can get a rough visual of what you had talked about on the phone.

Keep in mind that you should maintain a genuine level of enthusiasm (without sounding like a complete fraud) when talking to the client about a new idea. You want them to get excited about it. Then, when you post your proofs, make a few statements about why your concept is more effective.

This is not a fool-proof system, and don’t be surprised if the client just sticks with the original idea.

Adam Law

In my opinion this isn’t a discussion about design integrity as much as it is a comment on a larger problem within the graphic design field. It is my experience that clients do not generally understand what a graphic designer is, what a graphic designer does, or how a graphic designer works. I cannot recall how many times I’ve been called a “Graphics Designer” (note: there is no “S”). If someone cannot get my job title correct, I have little hope that they are going to be “on board” for the entire design process let alone understand how the concept I am pitching them is a better, and in most cases less cliché, idea.

So the problem actually becomes: “How do I educate the client about design and help them make more intelligent decisions?” This can be a really tough issue to tackle. Most people become insulted if you call their ideas dumb, even though they may in fact be unintelligent, and will become less responsive to your suggestions if they feel insulted. I have also run into the problem of clients being resistant when you attempt to explain the process to them, as they feel you are telling them they do not understand what you are doing. Even though it is often the case that they do not understand what you are doing.

It really becomes a process of holding a client’s hand and convincing them to trust you and to allow you to do your job in the manner that works. The process is always a two way street as you must also allow a client to educate you on their needs and how a client thinks at the same time as you are showing them how your process works. At the very least you have to convince them to let you at least try your idea, even if it’s on your own time as Bill suggested.

However, I have to disagree with Bill’s analogy of the Big Mac and the Chicken Sandwich because that suggests you are getting garbage in the end either way. Either of these would be cookie cutter solutions to a problem, in this case hunger, that aren’t going to consider a person’s specific needs. Rather I propose that you give the client filet mignon rather than a Big Mac if allowed to properly work through the design process.

The client gives the designer (chef) their input (how they like their steak cooked) and then trusts the designer (chef) to create a great solution (meal). You never hear a person telling a chef which spices to use or how long to cook the meat on each side. If they wanted that much control the chef would probably ask them why they came to the restaurant when the customer obviously could meet their specific needs better than the chef could. Each solution (steak) is unique to the client’s problem (needing a meal) and no two solutions are ever the same (every steak is unique no matter how many times you’ve prepared the same cut of meat). It is when a designer is fully trusted by a client and allowed to work through the complete process, that the end result is the highest quality product possible.

When considering the financial implications of the design process, “Selling out” is not a term that correctly applies to the circumstance because that term does not have enough depth to describe the situation. What is really happening is the client is not getting what they paid for because of their own self sabotage. The blame cannot be placed on a designer when they have not been given the opportunity to do their job and come up with a creative solution to the design problem.

We are not simply purveyors of “cool”. Designers do not make things “look cool” or “look slick”. If this is what a client wants they may be better suited for 99 Designs or Crowd Spring. In fact, the term “cool” should never be uttered in the context of design. The end result may be considered cool by the masses, but the designer’s job it to come up with a creative idea that solves a client’s design problem. Nor should a solution ever fall into a specific style (after all style = fart according to Sagmeister) or be trendy. Every solution must be unique to a client’s specific needs and fully non-formulaic.

In the end after all your attempts to educate and persuade the client to buy into the process of design and the validity of your ideas fail, then like the chef you must allow them to attempt their solution on their own. That person may get what they want in the end, but it will never be all it could be if properly executed. Not to mention if they are that difficult and unwilling to listen, then do you really want them as a client at all?

Jeff Finley

Here’s a bit from Adam Law:

“We are not simply purveyors of “cool”. Designers do not make things “look cool” or “look slick”. If this is what a client wants they may be better suited for 99 Designs or Crowd Spring. In fact, the term “cool” should never be uttered in the context of design. The end result may be considered cool by the masses, but the designer’s job it to come up with a creative idea that solves a client’s design problem. Nor should a solution ever fall into a specific style, after all style = fart according to Sagmeister, or be trendy. Every solution must be unique to a client’s specific needs and fully non-formulaic.”

While I wholeheartedly agree that every solution should be client specific and non-formulaic, I must offer my slightly different opinion on the matter. We get a lot of requests from clients to make them “look cool.” This is that fuzzy area between art and design. The fact of the matter is, when something is well-designed and well-thought out, people say it’s “cool.” I think the primary discrepancy is that “cool” is a subjective term and is very vague. The word “cool” itself does not describe their needs. What I personally think is cool may not be what the client thinks is cool. This is where communication is important.

When a client wants to be “cool” they really mean they crave that feeling of being admired by their peers. They want to achieve greatness and become successful. They don’t want to look cliché. They want to be regarded as a trendsetter.

Also, style, in my opinion is very important. Style alone should not be confused with being trendy. Sure, if a client specifically asks for something “shiny, glossy, web 2.0” they are requesting a design based on style that happens to be a cliché trend. What they SHOULD be describing is the feelings and responses that they desire in their customers. If they are looking for a friendly, pleasant user experience with easy and obvious calls to action, then perhaps a shiny and trendy web 2.0 style would be fitting. Sometimes being trendy is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes trends exist because they work and are looked at as standards.

Also, as an artist/illustrator, we often get hired because of our style and technique. The way we execute ideas becomes a trademark that clients ask for. They see something in that style that resonates within themselves and makes them feel good. Style is in everything we do. It’s personality. Branding.

But my point is, we as designers need to understand how to translate a client’s visual style descriptions into executable solutions that help the client achieve what they want. Whether that is more sales, to appeal to a specific audience, to land XYZ as a new customer, etc.

Tim Boesel

When a client says “jump” designers say, “how high?!” I believe many clients know what they want from the start. Either the client has provided an example or has come up with a rough (a.k.a. terrible) concept on paper. Even with all the direction in the world, clients can (and most likely will) shoot a designer’s concept down, no matter how strong the idea is.

When coming up with a strategy to combat clients’ so-called “design block,” the best line of defense is to listen to everything they have to say. Then, educate the client why or why not their design might or might not work. Shedding new light on an old idea will most likely help you win over a client.

A word of advice: it is best not to piss off a client or argue with them. Usually, if you shed new light on a client’s old idea, they will most likely see your vision as the best solution. However, don’t completely throw out a client’s idea, no matter how bad it is. Most clients take pride in their designs and want you to help bring their ideas to life, not destroy them. All egos aside – if it wasn’t for clients and their “wonderful” (yeah, right) ideas, you wouldn’t have a job.

If all else fails and you find out the client is “two-faced,” (i.e. one minute they love your idea, the next they have no money or drop off the face of the earth) then you don’t want them as a client anyway.

Even if you poured your heart and soul into the client’s project or woke up in the middle of the night saying, “this will work, listen to me @$$hole,” you have to put up the white flag. It’s time to suck up your pride and live to fight another day. In the end, you’re the designer. You have fought the good fight for years and you know what works and what doesn’t work. After all, you’re fighting for clients – not against them.

In conclusion, I believe my integrity as a designer is validated. I approach each project – no matter what size – working towards the best possible outcome. At the end of the day, if the client chooses something other than my idea, I can accept that because I know I put all my effort into the project, and that’s the best I can do.

Katie Major

It wasn’t too long ago that I graduated from design school with a built in ego the size of an elephant. I remember very clearly my design instructors drilling into my head “YOU’RE THE genius, don’t let a client have a say in what you do”. One of my favorite analogies a professor told me was that you won’t go to a doctor and tell them how to fix your broken leg; you trust that they know what they’re doing.

Something I had to learn the hard way is that this type of client relationship comes from a mutual respect that has to be earned. If you parade in with your genius idea, thinking you’re master of the universe, that is going to turn off the client so fast you won’t have a chance to even talk about your idea before they reject it. This has been a struggle for me because my knee jerk reaction to a client’s bad idea is “don’t you trust me?! I went to design school, you didn’t. How can you come to me with these horrid ideas?” I am still learning how to best approach this situation with humility and learning how to sell my ideas to people. I realized once I showed the client how awesome the potential was for the project they trusted me 100% through the rest of the design process.

About the Author, William Beachy

I grew up in Cleveland Hts. Ohio and was drawing constantly. As a child I took art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art and eventually became known as the "class artist." I graduated from The Ohio State University's department of Industrial Design. I have always tried to blend my passion for illustration with Graphic Design. Go Media was the culmination of my interests for both business and art. I'm trying to build a company that is equally considerate of our designers AND our clients.
Discover More by William Beachy

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • http://geoffburns.com Geoff Burns

    I couldn't agree more with this! One thing I would add would be:

    I tend to try and make sure that I am meeting the needs of the client at every step. Working for myself tends to lend itself to a more one-on-one environment with the client, which helps this. What I mean is, if they want something that is totally crappy, something that I'd never ever want my name and information associated with, rather than just doing it because they are paying me, I believe that we are “designers” have a responsibility to tell them. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean, walking right up to them and saying, “Hey, [Insert Name Here], You're Stuff Sucks!” But there is a way, that I think everyone knows how to do, in which you can tell them what you think. And the most important part is not to dwell on how much it may suck, but to move on to your ideas to improve it! My motto has always been, “I get to design [blank] for you, and you have to live with it forever, why don't we come together to make something that you are super happy with?” Maybe that's more of a question, than a motto, but you get the idea. There are those clients that just pay the bills and want what they want and you'll never be able to disuade them, and in the end…you're bills get paid. And then there are those clients that love what you do, and say, “Hey we need a T-Shirt for [Insert Whatever] can you do it?” And that's all they say and they love whatever you do.

    I think that it's more about being able to be content with “bill-paying” work, to get you through to the “creative” work. And when there is room to push, then do so, but don't be so cocky. Just because you know how to use your pirated copy of Photoshop to make embosses and bevels, doesn't give you the right to tell someone that what they want is crap. (I know a little soap-boxie, sorry had to get it off my chest.)

  • Adam Law

    Jeff, while you bring up an interesting point, I think you have to disconnect illustration and design when considering style. Design, which I was referring to when I was talking about style, should never be associated with style or making things look “cool”. If this is the case, then the designer is not taking the client's problem into consideration. Rather coming up with an intelligent solution, a designer that uses a particular style isn't doing the client any justice and is making them blend into the crowd.

    When speaking of Illustration work, style is usually the driving factor in getting work. A client sees something that you create in your particular style and they decide that that style will work well with the message that they are trying to convey. In the case of illustration, a style of your own can be the best thing in the world as it can get your name out there and make you a sought after illustrator. However the designer's job is to be transparent and his hand should never be seen in his work.

    From an article on Design Observer by Adrian Shaughnessy…

    “There was a time when graphic design and illustration were indivisible. Many of the great designers of the 20th century were also illustrators and moved effortlessly between image-making and typographic functionalism. Traditionally, most designers viewed illustration with reverence; many even regarded it as inherently superior to design. And with good reason: design was about the anonymous conveying of messages, while illustration was frequently about vivid displays of personal authorship. Like artists, illustrators signed their work, and some were even public figures (no graphic designer ever enjoyed the fame of Norman Rockwell, for example). As Ed Fella, a practitioner with feet in both camps, sagely noted: “Whereas graphic design is more anonymous, all illustration is sold for its particular and individual style.”"

    • polo fred perry

      I agree, there are some wonderful books listed here. I love the
      tutorials, but I’ve been using InkStyle to create shirts for our son’s
      youth group and have no complaints!

  • Mandy

    I had been waiting for this post since it was announced in the last one. I think you guys tackled a very difficult subject and did it well! I know I have pulled my hair out many times over changes I have had to make. It's nice to see that at least I am not alone!

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    Adam, yeah that makes a lot of sense. It's helpful to really see the line of Illustration/Art and Design.

  • http://mrenteria.com Mike

    Great post! As a freelancer, I hate it when clients use phrases like “out of the box” and “make it look slick.” Anyone else loathe these phrases?

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Sometimes, but not all the time, you gotta smack the client around and yell non sequitur. That's how I roll!!

    And yes, I'm joking. Great article guys. Sometimes people ask me what it's like working with clients and I don't even know where to begin. Once in a while it's smooth without and roadbump but other times it's a complete test of one's patience and social skills.

    Good stuff!

  • http://www.myspace.com/jpmainstream Circle Symmetry

    That was good. I´m not very experienced, but when I talk to friends that have a band I see they don´t have any type of “taste” about designing. I´ll work for some new bands here in Spain, I´ll try to apply this to my work.

    Really thanks for your inspiration and information, It´s hard to start, but when someone helps you with your first steps… That´s great.

    Thanks dudes!

  • jglovier

    Wow! Awesome discussion. Great article.

    @Adam Law (quote: “If they wanted that much control the chef would probably ask them why they came to the restaurant when the customer obviously could meet their specific needs better than the chef could.”) — Right on. I think that's a great perspective. You could even try (use discernment) asking your client in those scenarios, “So why did you really come to me for this project?” Hopefully they'll answer that question with some things that will remind them that they can trust you. Maybe they'll just reveal that they thought you were going to be the cheapest, or knew your Mom.

    @Oliver Barrett (quote: “I believe that when a client comes to us for work, they aren’t just paying for the final product.”) —Couldn't agree more. In fact, that leads me to the point I'd like to make…

    I love the first point made in the article and IMHO it is the best over-arching piece of advice to take away here: SET EXPECTATIONS UP FRONT.

    I know a lot of this discussion can change based on the nature of the designer's practice – whether they are just part of an agency who HAS to please their client or else the designer is fired vs. being your own boss and choosing to work with or not to work with a client. And it also has to do with the nature of your clients – if they are from the creative industry or creatively nature business, like musicians – a lot changes, too. I mean, if you are working with a band designing their album, or a filmmaker designing promo posters, there is a lot of inherent creative control desired by the client. But if you're creating a brand identity or marketing package for a business/organization that's a little less creatively natured, say like a law firm, you're client may have less of a strong desire to be “in control.”

    But I think it all comes down to how you present yourself, what type of business you are trying to run, and setting those expectations up front.

    The big tip off for me came when I had a chance to talk one on one with a friend-of-a-friend who owns a 2 person design agency in the DC metro area and boasts some big clients like Coca-Cola (on retainer), Proctor and Gamble, Hasbro, and NASCAR, among others. This person offered to give me some advice since I'm new to the design industry, and after talking with her for an hour and a half, one of the biggest things that stuck out at me was this point: “Companies will pay you more for your business and marketing awareness than just for your design skills. Your knowledge is what makes you really valuable, not your artistic ability.”

    The point is that you will only go so far as a production artist. And for many that is fine. But if you have a degree in marketing or communications, experience in marketing or business, thorough awareness of industry trends and styles beyond just the artistic, you can earn much more money and be much more valuable to your clients. That's the approach I'd opt for.

    But in order to take that approach effectively you need to SET PROPER EXPECTATIONS up front, otherwise you risk just coming off like a pompous art know-it-all. If you only market yourself as a designer, it's going to be a tough sell to offer your business or marketing advice to clients. But, if you position yourself as a sort-of consultant, who can give strong marketing and business advice based on design, then a lot of these challenges are in a much better context to deal with. I think alot of times there may even just be a failure to really do some info gathering and understand the client's needs/goals/values. Although I really disliked a lot of my sales experience, it sure has come in handy as a small business owner.

    Also, we had a similar discussion going on Linked In in a creative group. You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/clientsdesignsucks

  • Dave

    I'm dealing with a family member who is dying of cancer, and also have worked with mentally handicapped kids, who ignorant people might call “retards.” It really doesn't seem like you were thinking when you wrote some of the things in this post – really disappointing, and detrimental to my once high respect for this zine.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    We have had so many clients who come along and play designer. This is a complete waste of time as you end up designing loads of prototypes, the client is never happy they ask for other designers to get involved and then sometimes they end up leaving wasting weeks of desiging and costing the company more than they would of paid. I think you should get rid of people like this as soon as they arrive. Just reading Daves comment above I agree with him about some of the comments you made as they were pretty unnecessary and extreamly detrimental. Apart from that though good blog.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Mat

    managing expectations is one of the most important factors in my opinion. There can often be a tension between the people who sell, and the people who implement in any industry.

  • Mandy

    re⋅tard
    1. to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede
    2. a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance

    This is a case where it applies. He didn't call someone a retard, he said clients choose retarded designs.

  • William_Beachy

    I appologize if I offended anyone by using the word retarded in the phrase “…retarded design things…” I wasn't meaning to offend anyone or any group of people. I was describing the direction some clients give us designers.

    It's a shame that this english word has now somehow gained such a negative reputation that it is virtually unusable.

    The definition for retarded is: “to make slow; delay the development or progress.” And That's what I meant.

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    Good points Joel! I really liked the comment about only going so far as a production artist and shifting your marketing towards more art direction and marketing. I think I'll actually take that advice on my own personal blog. Right now I'm saying I'm an artist and designer, which I kind of assumed that was what I was. But truthfully, I have a lot of knowledge about the industry and I am a marketing junkie, I just need to make it clear. So perhaps I could say “Art Direction and Consultant” who knows. I need something catchy.

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com Chris OB

    Great post- Especically “The designers that get their way most of the time, are the ones that are the BEST at pitching their ideas and selling them to the customer.”

    It's true that you have be be a great salesman just as much as a great designer.

    Random question: Where did you get the (hilarious) stock photos of the cheesy guy and little girl?

  • Tyler Durden

    I find it interesting that you claim “many customers are idiots that ask for retarded design things that are probably bad for them.”… is that a good business practice, to insult customers. Sure, we may feel these things, but to post a blog about it for the entire internet to read… wow. Which of your clients would you like to read that? Sure, we all want the freedom to create what we think is in someone's best interests, but are we so built up by our own narcissism to believe for a second we always know what is best?

  • Tyler Durden

    He said they ask for retarded design things that are probably bad for them. That's a quote. So I disagree whole-heartedly with your interpretation. He didn't say they retard the design process, he say they are retarded design ideas.

  • Tyler Durden

    …he says they are.

  • Tyler Durden

    I'm not offended, but come on, you use the word idiot to describe a client and then claim we are the ignorant for assuming what you meant?

    Idiot: (in the modern sense)

    –noun
    1. an utterly foolish or senseless person.
    2. Psychology. a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

    Origin:
    1250–1300; ME < L idiōta < Gk iditēs private person, layman, person lacking skill or expertise, equiv. to idiō- (lengthened var. of idio- idio-, perh. by analogy with stratiōtēs professional soldier, deriv. of stratiá army) + -tēs agent n. suffix

    Synonyms:
    1. fool, half-wit; imbecile; dolt, dunce, numskull.

    Look at what they mean 700 years ago… We are in the modern ages, and the meanings of words have changed. Idiot and retarded have become synonymous with dumb, moronic people.

    If the President can come under fire for using it (and at least he admitted it), so can you.

  • William_Beachy

    Hey Tyler, At Go Media we take the GREATEST pride in how we treat our customers. Most of them are life long friends. We work hard for their best interests and always deliver our VERY best work. That's why we're successful – because we truly LOVE and care for our customers.

    Having said that, most customers are not designers. They haven't studied landing pages, conversion rates, ergonomics, gestalt principles, typography, layout, etc. etc. etc. When it comes to design – yes, they are idiots.

    Man! I use a few harsh words in a blog and I'm getting skewered for it.

    It's true – I write in a non-politically correct way. Sometimes I use bad words. It's not my intent to offend anyone, ever. But I'm a bit of an independent rebelious guy. I'm not running for the presidency. And I'm not second guessing every last word that I use. I'm shooting from the hip most of the time. After all, I have to fit these blogs into my spare time. Nobody is paying us to write these articles. I'm trying to SHARE my knowledge with the rest of the design community.

    And anyone who knows me – particularly my clients – would not be offended by my article. Because they know I care for them, respect them and work my ass off for them.

    Ok. I'm done. 'nuf said.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Liz Hunt

    Yeah, make that title 'look slick', Jeff ;)

  • Liz Hunt

    Thanks for taking the time to make and post this article, Bill. My thoughts are as redundant as a splash page at this point, but I'll share them anyway:

    Katherine Hepburn once said “Never complain. Never explain.” For me, this is a flawless motto representing the real meat of what it means to have integrity. When a client isn't feelin' a design you've spent mountains of hours, Photoshop memory and pots of Folgers perfecting, it's a hair-pulling moment. But if you're the 'Everything-Must-Be-This-Way-So-Bugger-Off' type like me, integrity boils down to swallowing pride and ego (a large, sometimes painful, gulp) and moving on. No matter your creative persuasion, projects will always end with “What's right for the client?” and not “What will give merit to my fancy art school diploma (which is quickly gathering dust in an abandoned bookshelf)?” When it's time to move in a new direction, it's about sucking it up, getting it done within the time quoted, and doing it well without complaint or over-explanation. That alone can be a glimmering moment of satisfaction, and clients will respect you for putting their needs before yours.

  • Tyler Durden

    If they aren't offended, it's only because they aren't referenced by name, I'd imagine. Personally, I am not offended by your article. On the contrary, I think it's brash of you to put something out there like this for everyone to see. Call your clients whatever name you like, by all means, it matters not to me: I am not one of them.

    But a question: why mince words if you are trying to share your knowledge with the design community? It just seems like the point you are trying to make is undone by the way you said it. You can say uninformed just as easily as idiots.

  • Tyler Durden

    I also like how my original comment as Mojo was turned into this discussion here:

    http://www.gomediazine.com/industry-insights/op

  • jglovier

    Thanks Jeff. Glad it made sense. You can call yourself whatever you want if you have the creds to back it up. And all ego stroking aside, clearly you do. You have been featured in industry publications, you are part owner of a very well recognized and respected design studio. Do you really thing Artist and Designer does justice to all that you have to offer your clients?

  • jglovier

    Get over it! And before you post one more time why don't you use your real name or email instead of hiding behind Tyler Durden and pretending to be the courageous defender of the weak?

  • Liz Hunt

    Yes, the sentence you quoted certainly sounds insulting when taken out of context; but you conveniently left out his advice in the sentence immediately following: “But we STILL must pay them the respect of not immediately assuming that we know what is best for them.”

    It's common courtesy to read a post or article thoroughly before making remarks.

  • afterman

    “Companies will pay you more for your business and marketing awareness than just for your design skills. Your knowledge is what makes you really valuable, not your artistic ability.” – Great point here, and a little bit of an eye-opener. I've just recently gone freelance and have been selling myself as a web/graphic designer, even though I have a Master's in Integrated Marketing Communications.. I do think that I need to start selling myself as an entire packaged entity – Creative Marketing Strategies from Concept to Final Campaign Execution – er something like that. I have definitely been getting the sense that strictly-designers do get shoved around a bit by clients who only use the designer for their ability to wield the Pen Tool in Illustrator. In reference to the comments on Burger Vs. Chicken Sandwich, any schlep can microwave a patty, but it's the ones who get creative with the patty that excel. It's all about concepts and knowledge, or concepts BASED on knowledge.

  • Katie Major

    Someone asked about the images used for the post. Well they're from istock. The top dude is called “mustache man” or something to that effect. The little girl was also from istock as well. Glad you liked them! Couldn't resist using a dude with a stash that awesome!

    Please, everyone realize that we provide this blog for everyone out of the goodness of our hearts! We have a lot of other things to do but we choose to give our advice and incites. No need for rudeness!

  • Tyler Durden

    My point was that he should own up to how he used it, not that I was insulted/offended. I wasn't defending the weak, either; my comments are strictly regarding not name calling a client who is paying you to do a job on a blog post, “idiot” or not.

  • Tyler Durden

    I read through the article, thanks for assuming otherwise. Quotes are constantly taken out of context, I agree, and yes, it's sort of a negative/positive correlation (regarding what he said).

    How is what he said in any way showing respect in totality? I don't think it is, and that's really what I'm trying to get at. I won't say anything more about it.

    Regarding the posts on your site in general, most are informative and I never feel a need to comment. I really do enjoy most of the knowledge you all try and share with everyone else… I guess we can agree to disagree on this.

  • Adam Wagner

    Steven Anderson says “What line?” http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofe… and has a well thought-out article supported by diverse research.

    His viewpoint resonates with me; it makes sense that style / skin / colors / coolness and other “soft” layers of paint really affect our perception of function, proportion and other “hard” qualities of design.

    What do you think about the article, Adam? You've got a much more learned history in design than me. How do you react to Anderson?

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Man, something must really be bugging you today. Bill's sentences are being taken out of context by you to make it sound like he's insulting clients, which isn't the case.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    “Retarded designs” would be designs that aren't living up to potential, are unfinished, lack any aesthetics or are just bad.

    Seriously, mystery man, get over it. You're trying to start a fight where there isn't one. If stuff like this bothers you maybe you can go to some politically correct forum and rant. This isn't the place for it.

    So, like jglovier said, GET OVER IT!

  • http://www.bitwordsmedia.com web design and development

    fantastic and amazing suggestions i think if you are not interacting with client regularly it will effect a lot of differences between both,

  • Steve

    I cannot wait until mustaches go out of style again.

  • Crssp-ee T.

    Who is that bad-ass dude with the six-shooters and the ray ban plastic aviators???
    Man, that is one Ba-a-a-dd-dd hombre' pilgrim.
    Great article!

  • http://angrybunni.com crystal

    to use the term “thinking outside the box” is completely, shall I dare say it, NOT thinking outside…

    Yes, I loathe this phrase- makes me nauseous

  • http://www.idrawdigital.com Drezz

    Clients often need educating. Its just the nature of the design biz. If you have a certain set of principles and stick by them, and explain why you're being paid well to provide those srvices, either client will agree, or look elsewhere.

    If they respect you enough as an expert in your field, they will back off with the design ideas…

    Most people have pre-conceived notions on what their identities could or should look like, and if they can't trust you enough to relinquish that small piece of control to your judgment, then they're not ready for change.

    We've fired clients who have done just that – wasted time because they felt they could achieve better results through micro-management and direction. If that is what they want, they're better off saving money and going through an online D-I-Y cookie-cutter template program.

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