As designers, we can often get caught up in the specifics of the aesthetic. Is there enough contrast? How’s the balance? Clean typography? And so on. Of course, there needs to be the balance of form vs. function, but I know I am more acutely aware of the design of a print piece/website and how it affects me than some people are. Where this (over?)appreciation for design can get us in trouble is when we’re dealing with clients.
Clients aren’t designers. We know this – hell, clients thinking they’re designers is a common designer pet peeve – but in order to make our clients happy, we truly need to comprehend this. We need to understand what our design clients care about, and most of the time the specific details of great design are trumped by basic client needs – ie. does a design print well? Does a website work in all browsers?
If a designer truly understands what clients care about, he/she will have an easier time selling their services to them. Clients don’t want to hear you ramble about how you chose this gothic-style typeface because of its strength, aggressiveness and perfect kerning as much as they want to hear that the print piece you’re making for them will meet their goals and print perfectly, minus any headaches with the printer.
So, with all that said, what do your design clients care about? Hit the jump to find out.
Clients come to a designer for print design for one main reason: awareness. If it’s a gig poster, the band is raising awareness for a show. If it’s a business card, the client is raising awareness of his/her brand. Clients want to know that the print design they’re hiring you for is eye-catching. They want to know that it will meet their goal, whatever that may be (you figured this out before embarking on the design, right?). And finally, they want to know that your print design will print beautifully.
Sure, tell your clients about your design choices and why you’re making them. But remember that, likely, they don’t share the same love for design as you do. Be concise, and focus on what they care about.
Identity/logo design can be a bit more of a battle. It’s hugely important for a small business, and it’s tough to leave personal preference behind in place of the client’s customers’ preference. The main things that clients care in this regard are the following:
- Does it reflect their business?
- Is it attractive to their clients?
- Will it be useful on every possible medium?
Again, don’t focus on the specifics of what you’ve done. Sell your clients on what they need & care about.
Clients want their website to look good; that’s a no-brainer. We recently had a client whose website and branding design was so dated that employees told us they were embarrassed to hand out business cards or direct people to their website. So while your client does care about how the site looks, they also care about the following:
- Does the site meet goals?
- Does the site work in all browsers?
- Can they easily manage the content on the site?
After all, these items are what will help keep their business above water. A “pretty” design is worthless if it doesn’t convert, or work in all browsers, or have a CMS that is easily manageable.
If I can try to boil this article down to one sentence, it’d be this: Sell your clients peace of mind. If your design clients know that you understand what they care about – their wants and needs – then you will have an easier job overall. It will be easier to get concepts approved; it will be easier to get more future work from them; it will be easier to get referrals from them. By knowing what your clients care about, you show you care about them – a great step towards building a long-term business relationship.