keep your cool

keep your cool
While inspired by the heat I am currently experiencing in BC this has nothing to do with that type of heat. We have all had a client that did more than ask us for a ‘bigger logo.’ You know the client that you sit with and brainstorm for new ideas for the design work. You decide on a direction, follow it and when you show it to the client they say that they do not like ‘grunge’ or it is ‘too corporate’ or whatever, despite the fact that they sent you in that direction anyway. So here it is 5 ways to keep your cool and be professional.

  1. Take a Deep Breath
  2. Do not say the first thing that comes to mind. Wait for a second think about your response and then when you have taken that 30 second pause respond. Often the first thing that come to mind is not the most desirable thing to say to a client you want to keep.

  3. Refer to the Scope and Direction Meetings
  4. This one should be your standard response. If you have provided work that meets the direction provided earlier in the relationship then you need to refer back to it as the basis on which to proceed with this discussion. Remind them you already agreed on this direction together. Get them on your side and move forward and move on to the critique for revision.

  5. Remember Revisions Should Happen
  6. I know you put so much work into the initial concept for the client but revisions should happen. It is a very rare thing that you will hit the design perfectly the first time. If the client is truly invested in the site they should question some things. Fire is what refines gold. Critique refines design so it can come out a pure, beautiful and functional as possible.

    The counter point to this is if they do not have any critique question them specifically about items on the site to get them talking about things for consideration. Do not let them just get away with “it’s perfect.” A response like that is just a recipe for disaster later when they decide the day before launch there are changes needed.

  7. Listen Deeper
  8. If revisions should happen learn to listen to the critique for more than just the words the client is saying. Sure the other designers you network with know how to express themselves when the do not think a design fits the target market but most clients will never articulate well. Part of your job as a designer is to help them articulate the items for revision. Listen for themes in the critique. I once had a client that said the whole colour scheme was wrong. After talking it over what he really meant was there was not enough contrast between background layers. With a small tweak to the shade of a colour I had a happy client.

  9. Conflict Management
  10. No matter how hard you try, at some point, conflict will happen. When this comes up you need to be more than just a designer, you need to be a conflict resolver. I have a BA in Psychology and the listening skills and conflict resolution skills I learned in my degree have helped me in more than just work. Go out and take a course on conflict management. It will help you in more than just your business life. You friends, spouse, partner will all thank you for it.

2 responses to “5 Ways to Keep Your Cool”

  1. Kitty Avatar

    Great article Curtis! It’s so overwhelming when as a designer you’ve been working on a project for a long time and then have the client tell you that it’s not at all what they wanted, even though they said otherwise. What I’ve found useful is just stepping away from the email/call answering for an hour or so. That allows me to think thoroughly what my next move is.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar

      Yeah despite knowing all of the above I still feel a bit crushed when they don’t love the first design I come up with . We put so much of ourselves into the work so it feels like they are making comments about us personally.