Good Design is a Lot Like a Good Marriage…

happy couple cheering because they got married!

Something that I learned after being married, is that communication is key. If you have a good line of communication then your relationship will do great!  Expressing your likes and dislikes will help you to improve your relationship and better yourself. I call it companionship inventory. The way companionship inventory works best, is by utilizing the “hamburger method”. The buns are the compliments and the criticism is the stuff in the middle–you may have heard it referred to in another, not-as-delicious type of sandwich.

hamburger compliment method

Today, as a designer, I want to have a companionship inventory discussion with the (hypothetical) client.

Let’s start with a compliment shall we?

Clients are great because they provide us with new challenges and an income to provide for our families (pretty good, huh?).

The Problem

Now for the not so good part of this companionship inventory. You know what really grinds my gears? It is when the client hires you to design something for them but they don’t listen to your expertise. You wouldn’t hire an electrician, stand there watching over his shoulder, and tell him to connect the red and white wire together when he is clearly telling you that it’s not correct (plus, anyone who’s ever seen a bomb defused in a movie knows the green wire connects to the red wire). You wouldn’t tell your doctor what medication to prescribe you when you’re sick. Well, unless you went to med school, but even then, talk about rude.

We went to school for design, and have years of experience and knowledge on how to better design your website or promote your brand through design elements like your logo.

Having a good eye for design can come naturally but 90% of the time it comes with experience–just like everything else that you do.

It reminds me of an image commonly shared amongst designers.The more the client tries to interfere with the design, the more they should be paying.

designer price list

I don’t want to suggest that you have no opinion or say in the way your design looks because, in the end, it’s something you should be happy with. With that being said, considering the suggestions that your designer gives you is a mighty fine idea. We’re creative people, and we like to collaborate and talk over different ideas–the end goal is coming up with a design that we are both happy with (we take a lot of pride in our work).

Time is money as they say, and this is no different with designers. We’re constantly trying to streamline our workflow, to be as efficient and as fast as possible. Thanks to computers we are able to save our work as templates that put us ahead the next time we need to create a graphic ad or website. Sometimes we can whip up a great custom graphic ad in a matter of minutes–but just because it took us 5 minutes to make, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. We put years of experience, trial and error, template making, and learning the programs we use, to make all of our work possible. If we can create something that satisfies our standards, while meeting or exceeding yours, that’s great. If we can do it quickly, even better. That’s something important our clients need to understand about designers, and a lesson that can be applied to many other professions out there.

Here are some ideas on how you and your designer can find a common ground on the design of your website, graphic, or whatever it may be.

There are many different disciplines in, and types of, design, but perhaps the simplest explanation is that design should clearly and concisely communicate an idea, visually. With this definition in mind, let’s look at a few ways to find common ground when it comes to design.

For you, as the contractor or client:

  • Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your website, graphic etc.
  • Have some examples of things you like and why you like them

For the designer:

  • Take into account the the ideas of the client, and try to accommodate them as best as possible
  • If something won’t (or probably won’t) work, explain why that is. A claim with evidence, when it comes to a relatively-subjective field like graphic design, can go a long way into proving that a choice is rooted in practise and not preference.
  • Provide several ideas to build on what they’ve presented, adjusting it to what they want to achieve.

To end, I’d like to finish this companionship inventory with the second complimentary bun.

When we are able to create a genuine relationship with our client, it provides a platform for us to not only share our art and creativity, but it allows us to grow. We are able to learn from your perspective, and vice versa.

PS: If you feel like reading some pretty funny client to designer experiences, check out this website. If you catch yourself doing or saying any of these things, you might want to rethink your strategy–that goes for clients and designers alike. Like a good marriage, it’s all about compromise.

Leave a Reply