Design consult or not to design consult

For some time I had been carrying this annoying feeling in me because of some nasty experience I had.

To consult your clients or go with their flow?

As a designer who had many clients and projects on my experience path I would like to consider myself as being able to recognize good design from not-so successful design decisions. I started with learning PhotoShop on my own as soon as I got my first PC. At age of 15 I made some cash for buying ticket to Ozzy Osbourne concert by increasing breast size of my girlfriends images to post those in social media (well,you have to start somewhere). So client gives you a task (increase my boobies in this pic) and you just do it till the client is satisfied with the result, in the end you are getting your reward. No design consulting was done there. Later in life I had many offers for doing some flayers, posters, little branding etc. This was my golden time to find the best solutions, be rainbow-unicorn creative and consult how the things should be done. I considered myself a design-star. (Note: my teenage period was not over yet.) Then I got my first full-time job and wanted  to show all the best sides of my creativity and knowledge of usability, concept and design but very fast I understood that in this company you can give your ideas but creative director will change it to his liking and the client is the one who will twist your design decisions upside down and will say ‘make it look like Apple’ and after some consultancy saying that this is bad idea, you will end-up doing what the client says. So next time you will not even bother to consult or create some great decision together with client but just listen on what he says.  Needless to say – it was pretty devastating, therefore I started my own startup ‘Seriously We Think Free’ magazine – where I can express all my crazy design decisions and keep myself busy. Plus some great freelancing came along and some great clients who liked me to consult or create decisions together, but there were also some not so great clients…

I received the task from very opinionated client to finish the unfinished branding, wireframes and website. Therefore, I assumed that I had to hurry, as the programmers are paid and were waiting for psd. files and the task is extremely straight-forward, meaning, just do it and just do what client says. I assumed that no consulting should be done and my badly gained habits from my full-time sticked to my head and said, just get it done as client says. In the end not so successful wireframe which I was given turned into not so successful website, obviously, and the client noticed that it was too fast decision and blamed me in the all world problems and that on me the client lost a lot of money and that I had to design consult. So I swallowed the angry letter and kind of agreed with one point (others were just ridiculous) – saying that I had to do my consultancy as a professional and I had to kill my habit ‘shut up and do’ and say to re-do all wireframe because it did suck. It would tremendously delay the deadlines but at least I might have happy client at the end. It taught me a lesson: no matter how ‘design-smart’ and opinionated client you’ve got you have to stay true to yourself and your knowledge, you have to consult and create some great decisions TOGETHER with the client, because this is the only way how the product can become successful. If the client refuses all your consultancy and wants to put Comic Sans for his lawyer company website then leave the job (if you can afford it) or don’t put your name under this job. My lesson was learned and I know that this mistake will make me a better designer.

I wish you to have great clients, great collaborative outcome and bowl of patience 🙂

Did you have similar experience and how you coped with it?