Design Stepping Stones, cont.

13 Nov

by Elizabeth Stein, Creative Intern

5)  Always Explain Your Reasons and Thought Processes: When giving personal opinions throughout the process it is important for a designer to carefully explain why they are giving that advice. Clients may often want to carry on a design execution that the freelancer may not so happily agree with. In these kinds of situations, rather than just proceeding by the clientʼs opinion, a designer should take the time to demonstrate to them why they think differently, and what the potential impacts can be. Clients will typically see things as they appear on the surface, but from a designerʼs perspective and experience, they may know that there is more to be considered in the situation. When this is the case, it is important to explain to the client the other factors that are involved. Kevin and I regularly critiqued my work throughout the logo process. In doing so, we would express our opinions, remarks, and ideas regarding the designs that I presented. I would jot down notes during our discussions so that I could implement his suggestions to improve upon the next round of logo variations.

6)  Give Advice When Necessary: Designers are essentially consultants for clients. Clients (at least most of them) know that a designer has more expertise in the area than they do. Thus, they will quickly confide their trust in a designer, because they only want what is best for their business. Theyʼll trust that you are interested in doing what is best for them and their business. However, there will be situations where a designer will need to be willing to give their client advice on a particular decision that needs to be made, or situations where they should add some of the designerʼs own ideas for enhancing a project.

7)  Never Make Assumptions: Assuming that the client understands certain things or that they want something a particular way can lead to miscommunication. As the respective designer, it is important to take a moment and ask the client rather than jumping to conclusions that result in a hasty, frazzled, and mediocre project.

8)  Use Examples When Possible: When explaining ideas or discussing certain aspects of a given project, it is helpful to use real-world examples. Explaining options over the phone or through email can be challenging, and at times ineffective. By using examples to help, designers can create a clear vision for the client, with a more accurate response and communication.

9) Make Your Communication Count: Since clients are typically busy, most of them will not want to be constantly receiving emails or phone calls about the project. Designers: make the communication count! Condensing questions together into one email rather than sending 4 different emails in one morning will maximize the time you have to communicate. Creating a record system to document and/ or save conversations, emails, and inquiries, will prevent the need to repeat questions and waste time.

10) Always Document Your Discussions: One of the reasons that email communication is effective is because it gives the designer and the client a record of what has been said. For situations when conversations are held over the phone, itʼs a good practice to take notes while listening to the client, highlighting key ideas, dates, people, and notices. From my notes, emails, and conversations with Kevin, I saved, printed, and assembled my discussions into a binder that I brought with me into the office at ABT.

11) Keep It Professional: While communicating with clients, whether it be face-to-face, telephone, or email, always stay professional. Clients who pay designers for their services, will expect them to conduct their business in a professional manner. Itʼs one thing to chat with a client about their work, weekend, or favorite T.V. show, but always remember that what is written and spoken may impact your designer/client relationship.

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