A client-designer relationship can be a complicated relationship or relatively simple. Sometimes though, the relationship goes astray. The excitement from the client’s perspective disappears, the designer’s invoices are not paid on time, it becomes harder to contact one other… and then a request is made to “review the contract” or to “sit down and discuss the project”. So, what went wrong?
Based on our experiences at Stella Design, here is a list of ’3 Most Common Client-Designer Relationship Hurdles’ and how to overcome them.
Learn to ask the following question: Why? Why? and Why?
Understand a client contacts you to provide a service for a reason. Don’t just give the client what they ask for (or think they want). Ask the client “Why do they need this service?”
At Stella Design, we WANT to know why a client would like to do what it is, that they are asking for. We do this to ensure that the client always receives the right solution, or will help them find the right solution. By this it allows the designer to understand the project and the client more intimately. It will also set-up the outcomes, boundaries and expectations of both the project and the relationship expectations.
After you find out “why” and start the project –don’t forget to keep asking “why?”
The expectations and boundaries of the contract where misunderstood.
Not everyone reads a contract (sometimes, not even the person signing the contract and interestingly even the person issuing the contract). It is all too common and can result in misinterpretations about what will occur during the project. So you need to be clear with your client.
At Stella Design, we suggest with every new project commencing, both the client and designer sit down, face-to-face, and talk through the project and what has een agreed. This means the whole contract, money included, not just the creative!
Discuss what the client needs to do, what the designer is going to deliver, the invoices and payment schedule, key milestones or the timeline. It helps to define key terms or jargon (such as alterations or concepts) to ensure the client knows what you are talking about and gives them the opportunity to ask any questions.
Stay in touch with the client, often.
Keep your client in the loop, always. Let your client know the project is in constant motion forward, even if they state otherwise.
Don’t underestimate the power of calling a client and asking, “how is the project going?” and letting them know how the project is tracking towards the desired outcome. You will be surprised at how this question can often lead to other projects and even an extension to the current one.
By utilising these few tips, you’ll keep your relationships with clients happy, healthy and harmonious. And creatively, you’ll be a happier designer too.