How Clients Get in Their Own Way

When you make an appointment with the dentist, do you read up on “how to do a proper root canal” so you can tell him how to drill your tooth? Of course not.

What about your lawyer? Do you take a glance at the Bar Exam Key so you can keep him in check on a few laws? Definitely not.

As a general rule, you leave the profession of a professional to that professional. You’ve done your due diligence in hiring the right person, and you trust them to do their job.

For some reason, normal business habits such as these go out the door when the professional hired is a Designer. Suddenly, it seems, some clients develop an eye for design, can’t make a decision, or doubt everything the Designer tells them. It’s times like these that clients inadvertently get in their own way. Here are a few guidelines to follow once you’ve chosen a Designer to help circumvent any speed bumps that could threaten your project.

Don’t be “The Committee” Client.

Not every decision needs to be put up to a vote. When you take that extra time to reach a definitive decision, you risk delaying the project. Really think about the value of additional opinions: is it actually beneficial to get your project managers, receptionist, or accountants involved? A wide range of perspectives isn’t necessarily bad, but it usually isn’t that helpful.

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Don’t be “The My Niece is in Design School And Hates The Design” Client.

It’s great that your niece is artistic. She has an exciting and challenging career ahead of her, and we truly hope she succeeds in life. That being said, her opinions probably aren’t that relevant to the project. First of all, is she your target market? Maybe the design doesn’t resonate with her because it wasn’t designed to. Second, do you really want to leave business decisions in the hands of your niece? It’s nice that you want to involve her and give her exposure to your business, but be advised: take her input with a grain of salt.

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Don’t be “The Fearful” Client.

Trust. That’s what it’s all about. When you put on that paper bib and sunglasses and open wide for a dentist, you trust him to do his job. Treat your relationship with your Designer in a similar way. Tell your designer what you want, and trust that what he creates has been fully and strategically thought through. This isn’t to say that you can’t provide feedback or request changes, but learn to trust the instincts of your Designer. Furthermore, your Designer likely has a finger on what is current and ‘working’ in the design world, so don’t be afraid to go a little beyond your comfort zone!

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Don’t be “The Management by Un-Empowered Proxy” Client.

If you want to see every round of creative from your Designer, make sure that you are the one your Designer reports to. Likewise, if you don’t care to see every round, make sure you give the decision-making power to someone who will make definitive, trustworthy decisions. If your Designer delivers work to someone who has to double-check every critique with you, whether by your preference or their lack of confidence, you slow the process down and muddy the lines of communication. The more direct the feedback, the clearer the route to your completed design.

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Don’t be “The Micro-Managing” Client.

This goes back to trusting your Designer. While your designer might appreciate your appreciation for the details, most likely you’ll just cause him to second-guess his design decisions. If you cause your Designer to feel the need for approval and affirmation for every minute detail, your project will slow down. Your Designer has a vision for your project, and that vision comes to life through the details that he’s thoughtfully created. You don’t need to surrender complete control to your Designer, but learn to let go on the things that don’t have truly impact the big picture.

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At the end of the day, you and your Designer want the same thing: a beautiful, functional, and successful design. Next time you meet with your Designer, evaluate yourself to see if your feedback is indeed helping the process along, or if it is creating unnecessary delays. And remember, the Designer you chose is a professional—just like your Dentist.

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