Don’t Design For The Client

Design for the audience and not the client.

As designers, are we working to please the client? If that’s the limit of our purpose, I suggest that we’re missing the mark a bit. If the client has a customer base, the design needs to engage that audience. Our challenge is to create meaningful experiences for the end user, not just the client. In other words, the design should be significant, applicable and heartfelt so that the client’s target audience will develop connection and loyalty. The designer uses aesthetic elements including type, color and texture as triggers to create meaning, achieve a positive audience response and build customer loyalty.

It follows that design is not really created for the client but for the client’s customers. Think about that for a moment. When a client regards design only as something that makes their business look good and they want the designer to produce their ideas, they are engaging in short-sighted thinking. This can be detrimental to the goal of the design; alternative solutions won’t be considered and the final result may not achieve a meaningful connection with the client’s customers. The client needs to let go of assumptions about how their projects should be developed. What they ask the designer to do may not be the best thing given what they want their customers to experience. For example, the client may ask for the design of a brochure when an interactive video would create a stronger connection.

Given the job of creating meaningful experiences, designers function in a role far more complex than that of a mere production artist or “decorator”. They need the freedom to develop concept within the prescribed guidelines and the permission to suggest “what if”. Clients will be well-served to let go of personal preferences and allow the designer do what he is asked to do (create a successful design experience for the customer), and be open to consider the many possibilities the designer might conceive.

Ultimately, if the audience is reached and responds as desired, the client should be pleased. Design for the audience, and the client will also be satisfied.

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