The most difficult thing about being a designer is not the designing itself. It’s dealing with clients. I’m sure we all at one time or another have worked with nightmare clients. They are indecisive. They don’t know what they want. They change their mind all the time. Most designers don’t have a clue why clients act this way. They simply conclude clients are insane. Designers become frustrated and switch from creative mode to “just-get-the-shit-done” mode. It happens all the time. This isn’t cool nor healthy for either parties.
We can’t change how clients are. Clients have behaved this way for ages and they always will. However, we can try to look at things in a slightly different angle. I’d like to point out an interesting facet of designer-client-relationship that will help us understand clients on a more human level.
I’ve discovered that by looking at how designers do things we may be able to understand why clients behave the way they do. Say you’re working on a design project. Try and count the times when you have changed your mind. Think about the times when you’ve toggled between choices of fonts. Designers spend hours switching between colors, size or position. Honestly, we don’t know what we want either half the time. Think about how many times you undo, move, or delete. How many times have you scrapped something that seemed good few moments ago. We change our minds hundreds and thousands of times in one sitting. It turns out that we are indecisive as well. More so and more extreme than any of our clients. We just don’t realize this because we are the ones doing the design and everything is processed in an instant in our heads. But just imagine what it would be like if we had to rely on someone else. Imagine if we have to tell someone what we want or what we think we want. All the indecisiveness and mind changing will become vocal. And before we know it, we will become nightmare clients ourselves.
We all act and behave in similar ways when we count on others to execute our ideas. We all become indecisive and sometimes even irrational. Imagine, hiring someone to design your house, kitchen, garden or hiring a planner for your wedding, vacation, finances, retirement or for anything that is out of our profession. It’s likely we will say or do things that may seem stupid or irrational to professionals that serve us. Likewise, I think it’s only natural that our clients act the way they do. After all, they all have their own ideas of what their logo, website, catalog or ad should look like. And somehow they must communicate what’s in their head to us. It can be frustrating if you think about it. And of course all clients have unique ways of expressing this frustration all with varying degrees of absurdity and irrationality. However, looking at clients in this angle may help us see that it’s not insanity that drives them, but they are simply being human.