The relationship between a client and graphic designer is critical in producing good design results. It's the designer's job to help the client realize their vision, and the client's job to give the designer what they need. The client is the expert on what they want to communicate. The designer is the expert on what will work visually to effectively communicate what the client intends.
Designers are responsible to clients, because the client is investing in our services. Client's have the right to expect us designers to do our jobs well. However, new designers don't always realize that they have some rights too. Here is a list of rights designers need to never forget.
- Designers have the right to have complete information. Designers do their best work when they know all the particulars. We don't do great work without any parameters. We need the details that influence what is communicated. Creativity isn't the solution. It is the vehicle for the solution.
- Designers have the right to ask questions. It's always amazes me when clients want great results, but get frustrated when designers ask questions to clarify the project goals. And this happens a lot when clients haven't really considered their goals very well. What's the point of doing a design that has no clear direction? And, again, designers need complete information.
- Designers have the right to suggest a better approach. The client knows what the problem is. They know what they want to say. They sometimes even know their audience. However, the client sometimes thinks they know what solution the graphic designer needs to implement. And sometimes they might be right. But, generally, the designer is in the better position to offer a solution, a better medium and delivery, or a better visual approach than the client can conceive. That should be okay. That's what the designer is there for. Designers are consultants for visual communication. Designers shouldn't be afraid to offer alternative approaches.
- Designers have the right to be treated respectfully. This should go without saying, but I've seen clients and designers work as if disrespect is normal behavior. That's unfortunate. No one deserves ill treatment. Professionals deserve to be treated as professionals. What's different about graphic designers which makes disrespect okay? Designers don't have to accept disrespect as a condition of employment.
- Designers have the right to turn down or halt work. What I mean is that there are times when it is best to stop, even in the midst of deadlines to clarify objectives, ask questions, and determine changes in scope. If we forge ahead without clarity, we will frustrate ourselves and our clients. The least we can do is stop designing to start communicating. And there are times when it's best to turn down work when the client is disrespectful, the project goes against our core convictions, or the compensation isn't enough for unreasonable expectations.
- Designers have the right to be compensated. Unfortunately, some designers work as if this isn't true. For instance, think about the rise of crowdsourcing or design contests. Some designers believe that working for free for the possibility of receiving compensation is a good idea. But, what does that do to the industry as a whole? It creates the perception that design is simply a commodity. Think about an architect, interior designer, or even a lawyer. Can you imagine any of them knowingly accepting work where the client will pay them if they like the work? Fortunately, they have enough self-respect to turn down such offers. Designers need that self-respect too, and to be the professionals that they truly are.
Photo CC BY: Markus Spiske / www.temporausch.com through Flickr.com