Ok...granted I'm a bit behind here since returning from vacation. I've done a great deal of catch up reading and while Seth posted this a week ago, I really wanted to highlight his How to Live Happily with a Great Designer, found via Designers Who Blog. I think it gives some valuable insight to the client/designer relationship. Here are some highlights from Seth's July 16th post in bold, my thoughts follow within the paragraph:
1. If you want average (mediocre) work, ask for it. Absolutely agreed. Please be clear on what you envision and what you can afford. Consider carefully your target audience, your boss or board of directors, and the purpose of the project. New and creative work is time intensive and requires risk on both the part of the designer and the client. If you don't want to take the risk, please let the designer know and we'll all save time and money.
2. On the other hand, if you want great work, you'll need to embrace some simple facts: Seth makes some good points here. Great work is sometimes controversial, scary and it's different than anything else you've seen before. Great work also requires time, patience and money. Please don't expect the designer to come up with something truly great over night or in a weekend...give us some time to utilize our creative muscles and produce something we can both be proud of.
3. Come back too many times for one little compromise, and you'll make it clear that #1 was what you wanted all along. I'm on board with Seth and Cat on this one. Please understand that It is painful for a designer when a client comes back again and again to "twiddle" a project to death. There will come a point when the project becomes so bastardized, that the only thing a designer can do is...yes, leave it out of the portfolio. It's wasteful, frustrating and heartbreaking.
4. You can't tell me you'll know it when you see it. This gives me nothing to work with. If you have some idea of what you are envisioning please let me know otherwise I'll end up investing hours creating comps and layouts that will be unacceptable to you. I can't read your mind. Do you have other sites or designs that you like? What is the purpose of the project...what is the target mission? Help me by pointing out other designs and/or ideas that are on par with your strategy. This is why I always provide my clients with a Creative Strategy worksheet...please use it.
5. You don't know a lot about accounting so you don't backseat drive your accountant. You hired a great designer, please don't backseat drive here, either. Ahhh..it's that definition of design I posted here on June 18th. You are responsible for the running of your own business. You hired a designer to be responsible for design. Trust your designer. "If you want to be a part of the process", says Seth, "please go to school. Read design magazines or take a course from Milton Glaser or get a subscription to Before & After." If you want this to be a collaboration, say so right up front.
6. Say Thank you. Simple right?
Here are a few items of my own:
1. Communicate please. Tell the designer about dates, deadlines and expectations. Return emails on a timely basis. Please don't tell us you need this right away and then after the work is complete, keep us waiting a week (or more) for a response because the boss is on vacation or out of the office.
2. Provide materials needed in a timely basis. We can't move ahead if we are waiting for client materials to produce the work. Budget overruns are generally due to lack of communication or because we are forced to wait for materials and then a rush job is required to meet the deadline.
3. Do not call me at 7:30am or 11:30pm or on Sundays. Of course, send me an email and say what you need to say but I'm a human too and need some sleep. Waking me up early in the morning or late at night is not the way to make me a happy designer. I also enjoy some time off to read, dream, design in my head, attend art openings, renew my spirit so I can come back to the table with fresh eyes and provide you a better quality product.