Is Your Client Fiddling With Your Design?

fiddleEven after you and your client have agreed on a concept, signed off on a layout and are coming down the home stretch, every once in a while you will hear: “Can you change the background?” or “Should we overlap these photos?” or “Can you move the logo…?”

Why all of a sudden is the client doing your job?

Maybe, because it’s been so much fun working with you, they hate to see the project come to an end. Perhaps it’s pre-launch jitters. Whatever it is, you have to regain control of the situation; otherwise you risk the effectiveness of the design and you risk producing something you’ll be ashamed to include in your portfolio.

The first thing to discover is whether they’re just fiddling or if they have some sort of new vision. The best approach is to be gentle and diplomatic: “You bet I can move it — what are you trying to accomplish?”

That question is designed to refocus them on their goal, which is to concentrate on the needs of their viewers, users, prospects and customers. The broad issues, in other words, and leave the details of the color scheme, typography and design elements to you.

If they are, in fact, fiddling, they will not become refocused and they will also not — because they are likely not designers — be able to answer your question in any sort of meaningful way. You’ll need to help them: “For instance, are you looking to make it bolder, or softer, or more refined, or more corporate, or more personal…?”

The goal is to get them to articulate what they want (as it relates to the needs of their users and business), not how to do it. This line of questioning will generally get communication flowing again while defining client/designer responsibilities.

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Image courtesy jotor used under a Creative Commons license.

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