Why Does the Client Think Different?

When a client rejects our work is usually because we do not take their opinion into account. We think that it is only us, the designers, who have the knowlegde.

Portrait of Lorena Garcia Hidalgo Lorena Garcia Hidalgo Villahermosa

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Searching through my university library I found a very interesting book which may easily be disregarded since its cover is not very attractive. Moreover, its size is quite small. This made me remember the saying: “Never judge a book by its cover”. Among the pages of the book called “The craft of designing” by Norberto Chaves, I read the following passage which caught my attention:

The traditional disagreement between the client and the professional is usually interpreted by the latter as a situation originated by the “inculture” of their client, but the origin is possibly their belonging to another cultural modality.1

This is really accurate. Designers think we are always right at the moment of designing, and take for granted that our clients have no knowledge of proportion, semiotics, design history, theory of color, etc. And that is why in many occasions we cross out our clients for “illiterate” instead of stopping to think that they simply have a different culture modality.

These thoughts provoke our lack of consideration for our clients' opinions by saying “They know nothing about design. I am the professional here”, and consequently, we work  on a design that the client is not pleased with. It is not what they were looking for their company, or it is simply not what they had in mind. Something we should keep in mind is that the client certainly does not have design knowledge, but they do know pretty well the company they manage, who their audience is and what they prefer.

Therefore, what shall we do as graphic designers? Shall we impose our criteria or shall we limit ourselves to do as the client says?  What we should do as professionals who solve visual communication problems is listening to the client, understanding what it is that they really need  to accomplish the presentation of a proposal which can really convince and motivate them. In the same way, we should explain the reasons of our design, mention the benefits of it  and how the target audience will understand the message.

By combining our knowledge and the client's opinions, the job will be done more efficiently and in a shorter time. When a client rejects your work, listen again to their needs. In case you have not done a previous research for your design, let them know why it is important to have the background information for the product, company or place for which you are designing. As my teacher would say “never design for your navel.”

Translated by Omar Perea Formosa

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  1. Chaves N. (2001) El oficio de diseñar propuestas a la conciencia critica de los que comienzan,  Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili, SL.
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Portrait of Joaquin Varas
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Joaquin Varas
Feb 2014

You raise a fair point in your article, after all the clientʼs needs are the ones that need to be taken care of. I think the main problem is that there is always communication problems, between the designer and the client. Both of them have their moments of pride, one of them likes to think he knows about design as well, and the other thinks he knows too much. From that point, they stop caring what is good for the project, and start feeding their egos instead. Reaching a consensus and solving the problem in hand, should be the priority in both partyʼs head. Good luck, this was a great read.

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Portrait of Daniel Mora
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Daniel Mora
Jan 2014

muy bueno.

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