Clients – A Designer’s Survival GuideTweet
“Yeah, how about if you change that color to green and make the logo bigger, oh and I don’t like the photo of the girl nor the background could you use something else? And could you have it ready by tomorrow?”
Sounds familiar? We’ve all heard this kind of speech. OH THE FRUSTRATION !Lots of time spent trying to achieve a perfect balanced composition and all the elements are in place and you are satisfied with the work , and it looks great BUT the client doesn’t get any of your ideas and he insists on making tons and tons of alterations until you end up with a mock up of the original idea and you die a little inside.
So , as you may have guessed that’s what this article is all about… different kind of difficult clients and some healthy ways to dealing with them Â without losing your mind our your soul. First we are going to begin with identifying different categories of difficultÂ clients . Please feel free to add any other category that I might have left out.
Types of Difficult Clients
( Any similarity to Â any real persons Â is purely coincidental Â )
The But client
This is the type of client that will always praise your work , put youÂ in a good mood and immediately after that starting with the criticizing. He clearly doesn’t like what he seesÂ but Â he has learned in the self help book he has read that it is better to highlight the pros before the cons BUT what this type of client doesn’t know is that Â this tactic is Â actually very very annoying.
What’s- So- Difficult- About- Your- Job Client
This is the type of client that thinks he can do your job much better than you and he acts like heÂ doesn’t need you. His standards are usually too high and often heÂ doesn’tÂ even know what he wants. Maybe he has some basic knowledge orÂ he is a frustrated artist . He also makes sure Â you know and appreciate Â his artistic skills because his self esteem Â needs to get some extra points .
You- Do -Something- I’ll -Tell -You- If- I- Like -It Client
This is a very common type of client. He doesn’t know what he wants. He gives you no indications but when you show him a version he suddenly knows what Â he doesn’t want and he is ready to critique everything. But this client is surely better than the …
I -Know- What -I -Want- And – It’s -Awful Client
This is the type of client that comes from the very beginning with examples of others people work ( nor rarely his examples look plain dreadful ) . And he often wants you to copy Â them or create something very similar to that. He is Â of course oftenÂ very reticent to any new ideas.
The- Tight- Deadline Client
He always makes you work under pressure giving you a very close deadline. He comes in the last moment all agitated and frustrated demanding an absolute priority for his project.
The -Other- People- Decide- For -Me client
It’s the kind of client who likes your proposal when he first sees itÂ just to call you later on to tell you that …he has thought about it…and well his wife says it’s too…
The advantage is that this type of client is easy to convince that your version is what he is looking for. But the disadvantage is that after he leaves your office he goes home again.
The Â Needy Client
This client will take all your time, send you tones of e-mails, call you for hours in weekends and whenever he feels like it . He is under Â the impression that if he hired you , he owns all your time Â and he is entitled to disturb you for any small thing.
The Indecisive Client
Make you do lots of changes and then change them again , just to decide in the end that your first version was the better one. He is never satisfied and just because he likes something today doesn’t mean that he can’t hate it tomorrow.
The- Always- Looking- For – A- Deal Client
He will always require a discount, minimizing the value of your work. Also this type of client requires you work for a smaller fee promising that this will lead to more work in the future.This is just the type of collaboration you are going toÂ regret sooner or later. But again this type of client is better than the…
The -One- That -Doesn’t -Pay
This is actually the worst case scenario…when you find out that all your hard work Â was for free.That’sÂ the reason that led to contracts being invented Â and you always have to take good safetyÂ measures to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Dealing With Difficult Clients
We have to admit that designer and client are locked into a marriage ,that like a real marriage has to be based on equal partnership and understanding if it is to last an produce a worthwhile offspring. Without clients there is no graphic design , and without demanding clients there is no good graphic design. Until a certain point, a demanding client can be stimulating, helping you get more out of your work.
Don’t just confront or avoid your client. When you are to busy with complainingÂ about his actions you miss out on the opportunity to learn something about him. Get to know your client, don’t just get annoyed by him. Think about the motivation behind his actions. Why does he insists on leaving the impression he is an undercover design guru , why is he always critiscing your work. Â Maybe because he has some issues of his own : a low self esteem that needs to be boosted with a know it all image. Look beyond the surface and maybe you will find an easier and more efficient way to deal with your client.
I remember a client that was clearly difficult. He barely liked anything, he always made me do alterations, start over, and practically made me lose a lot time with his project and I was very frustrated about that until I have realised that he actually thought that I wasn’t that much involved in his project. And that’s why he made do all that work . I must admit that by the time I have realised that I Â really wasn’t that involved. I’ve started with enthusiasm ,but after all his exaggerated demands my enthusiasm wore off.
So I’ve changed my tactics. Every time he dropped by , I would assure him that his project is the most important out of my all projects, that Â I was spending lots of time on it Â and I was deeply involved and interested.His criticism instantly melted and we started collaborating much better from then on.
Also it is very important to set clear boundaries from the very beginning. You will always meet clients that will want to test them, and negotiate them. It’s for your own safety. I’ve had my share if demanding clients that think they own your free time. I remember a client that made me lose all my weekend. It started as a simple task that would only take a half hour to make but it turned out to be a 10 hour conversation with millions and billions of alterations just to return to the original version. Thatâ€™s what happened because I had no boundaries.I’ve learned my lesson and from then on I always make sure I set my rules straight .
Finally it is very important to keep in mind that your clients will never ever change. They have no interested in doing so. So the only good thing to do is that you change how you approach them. Observe them, learn more about their real needs and maybe you will find a new way to communicate with them.
I am more than interested in your own experience in dealing with clients. What was your most difficult client and how did you manage to deal with the situation. Tell us about it.