Resplendence, a blog from Radiant Resolution about graphic design

9 Things Designers Have Heard a Million Times

There are phrases or questions everyone has heard a million times in their work place. Most of these repetitive statements or questions come from two things: 1) a lack of understanding your work, or 2) the desire to make your job easier, therefor leading to better results for your client.

While many clients try to have our best interests at heart, these phrases usually do the opposite of the client's intent. Check out these top phrases we've heard a million times, and why they bother us. I've included the client's possible intent and what the designer is actually hearing, to help bridge the gaps between understanding!

Just have fun with it.

Client's intent: Hoping you'll enjoy this project, because it's different than your others. You'll have more creative freedom, and we'll receive a better product if you have fun while doing it.

When a designer hears this, they see red flags. There is little direction given from the client, meaning this is going to go through countless iterations as the client determines what they actually want. The client has also devalued the designer's worth by assuming their job is full of fun art projects, without much care and thought in the process. Designers take their job very seriously, as any other professional does. While we can sometimes enjoy projects, we probably won't be enjoying yours as much as a trip to the beach, but we will be giving you the best final product we can based on lots of research, experimenting, and talking with you. Would you tell a mechanic to have fun repairing your car? It's just as weird of a statement to us.

I have a friend who needs a design. I'll send them your way.

Client's intent: We either really enjoyed working with you, or we know you are a professional designer and want to send you more business. We're helping you out.

When a designer hears this, they usually are genuinely thankful for the referral. But, 19 times out of 20, your friend will never contact us. That's fine, but we've learned very early on in our careers to not get our hopes up. So when we've hear this for the millionth time, we usually forget you've even mentioned a friend to us. So make sure if your friend does contact us, that they let us know you are the one that sent them. Many designers offer a referral discount and we want to make sure you receive yours!

This shouldn't take you long.

Client's intent: We have a few small (or what we think is small) edits, or a small project. We don't want you to charge us the full amount or extra for extensive revisions, so if we reiterate that they won't take you long, it won't be a problem.

When a designer hears this, they usually take more time to look over the extent of the changes or project than if you hadn't given them a time estimate. There is really no way a client can understand the length of time it takes a designer to make revisions to a document, so they really should ask instead of assume. There can be many factors that go into revisions. Even a small text change could require re-balancing of artwork to make the piece overall cohesive again. So ask for the cost up front. No edit is a small edit.

I have one final edit.

Client's intent: We genuinely think we're just about done, almost. Maybe. But we don't want you to grow tired of us or our project, so we're letting you know we really are almost done. And please don't charge us for another round of revisions, because we swear this is it.

When a designer hears this, they always cringe. It's bad luck in the design world to say "final." We never even name our files with "final" because it will become "final_final.jpg" or "ReallyFinalThisTime.jpg." Usually, there is only "one final edit" because the client has looked over the final proof too quickly. Take your time looking over your proof. Step away, and come back to examine it again. Collect your edits and sent them together in one e-mail. And never say final unless you are giving your approval within the same e-mail.

Make it pop!

Client's intent: There is really not much known context to this request, but it is the most requested action from a client. There is a belief that it could be a request for more 3-D artwork (drop shadows, cell-shading, we just aren't sure). Or perhaps it means brighter colors. Or, it could mean larger typography. We just don't know.

So when a designer hears this, they'll ask for specifics. Be specific in your feedback of a design. Send samples of other work you like. And then don't ever use this phrase.

I'd do it myself, but it's easy for you.

Client's intent: We don't think we need much work or effort into this piece, but there are a few capabilities we just cannot do with our programs. This is something that would just be easier to hand over to you to complete.

When a designer hears this, they know it won't be an easy job. This client will already have an expectation of where each element of the design will go, the fonts to be used, and the color palette. They've already tried to do it themselves, but just can't quite complete it with their program. This job won't require much creativity, though we'll offer it and probably be rejected. We will probably also receive poor quality files to use, and have a difficult time explaining why we need higher resolution. So no, this won't be an easy project in the sense of making sure the client satisfied.

I sketched this logo, can you just redraw it in Photoshop for me?

Client's intent: We have already done most of the work, so it shouldn't be difficult for a designer to simply make this an actual logo so our printing company can use it. We don't need any creative input, so we'll be less of a headache to the designer as well.

When a designer hears this, they dread the file they'll receive. They picture horrible fonts, drop shadows, and gradients galore. Depending on the artwork they receive (as well as the quality of the file), redrawing is time-consuming. We also would love to have some creative input on it, since it's really painful to look at, though the client will probably deny it. Also, we don't ever use Photoshop to create a logo. Logos should always be vector files, which we use Illustrator for.

This is going to mean big things for you and me.

Client's intent: We would love to work with you, and more incentive to work with us and give us your best designs would be the exposure you'll get. We picture this company going far and your design will be along for the ride (though maybe not necessarily you).

Designers have literally created logos and branding for hundreds or thousands of businesses. The majority of those businesses will go under within the first year (though not due to our designing). We have heard client after client tell us how important their business will be and how much money it will make, and how much of an honor it would be for our company to work with theirs because of the exposure and more work to come. We always take this phrase with a huge grain of salt. We actually may be more likely to charge higher or charge royalty fees for the use of the logo if we expect your company will have continued use and sales of products with the logo. So you may be costing yourself more than you know.

There's no deadline for this. Whenever you have time.

Client's intent: This isn't a rush job, so we don't want you to rush through this project. We want you to take your time so we have an amazing final product. We don't want you to feel pressured, either.

There is no such thing as a project without a deadline. Designers hear this a lot more than you'd think, and it is something that actually makes our scheduling even more difficult. The truth is we never have time. We are always working against tight deadlines or keeping up with invoicing and writing estimates (or working our second job). There will never be that downtime you are seeking where we are free to let our creative juices flow endlessly for your project alone. Giving us an accurate deadline will ensure your project gets the time it needs in our busy schedule, and will help us avoid the inevitable rush at the end when the actual deadline approaches.

How many of these sayings have you heard? Which one makes you cringe the most?

Clients: Was this a helpful list to you? Do you think this will improve future communication between client and designer? Let us know in the comments!

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About Brittany Klein

Brittany Klein is a freelance graphic designer from Maryland. She established her company, Radiant Resolution, in 2008 after receiving her Master of Arts degree in graphic design from Savannah College of Art & Design. She has since written blogs, e-books, and articles centered around graphic design and fine art for many organizations across the country.

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