Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Design Process: Delivering the Goods

The client loves the new design! She’s excited, and you’re ready to send the final bill and hand over the design. But what exactly are you giving the client?

Customarily you shouldn’t hand over your source files, fonts, or any artwork unless specifically contracted (and compensated) to do so. The reason is twofold. For one, the client is usually paying the designer for their creative thinking, effort, and resulting product. Whatever the end goal, that is what the client should be getting, and all other items a designer used in creating the outcome are negotiable. It’s a good idea to discuss this ahead of time instead of having a client request items you are not willing to part with.

The other reason is that materials such as fonts or photography are usually only licensed to you exclusively. All you can do is use them to create your projects, not share them. In other words, they are not for third-party use in creating their own projects. Sharing these files can affect you legally as a designer. I’m not a lawyer, nor do I assume to give out legal advice, but it’s pretty clear that most fonts, photography, and art is legally protected and owned by its author. In most cases the designer is only licensed to use these items to create a final product, wholly different from itself alone. And following in most cases, designers cannot resell, lease, or lend these assets to anybody.

So work these details out in the beginning stages where you had the client sign your contract and agree to the creative brief objectives. It’s good to be as specific as possible to help avoid uncomfortable conversations later, or wrangling over legalities.

Next time I want to offer examples of the design process in action.

Photo courtesy jdurham of

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