Client/Designer relationship: The client always comes first.

Second in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston.


The title says it all. It’s all about the client and the problem he/she wants to solve. As a designer, this can be challenging. We put our years of experience and education on the line when we present our ideas. Our heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears can be all wrapped into solutions to our clients’ problems.

When we don’t see things the same, issues arise. There’s a disconnect. Figuring out the source of the disconnect is the first step. Getting past it is the next. It seems simple enough, but can very often derail a project if it isn’t addressed and an amicable solution found. Below are some suggestions to help with this:

  • Make sure both client and designer are completely communicating their intended goals and how the presented solutions are meeting or not meeting these goals.
  • The designer should present multiple options so the client can see different angles to address the solution. Very often, this can help guide both parties toward a direction that meets a client’s vision.
  • The designer should present a good case for their design solution that presents the design’s value: as a consumer motivator, as a differentiator, as a risk-management tool.
  • Listen. Be a good partner. Be considerate of each other’s opinions.

Following these steps will often resolve the issue. In the process, it helps build trust, respect and is mutually beneficial to both client and designer. When this fails, the designer need to remember the number one rule: the client always comes first. In the end, it’s all that really matters.

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