It’s Never What the Client Wants, No Matter How Good it is

Redesigning a site is always exciting. I get to think about what the business is, who the target market is, and what kind of visual message will display it well. Then I get to go create. It is a lot of fun – unrestrained creativity!

Finally I have it completed – something that looks good, coordinates, and has that snap of class. But at that point, it isn’t done, because the client has to approve it – and they NEVER do!

No matter how good a designer you are, it is almost never right on the first try. And it isn’t because you aren’t good at what you do. It is because the way you see their business, and the way they see their business, aren’t the same. To truly do a good job, you have to find that blend in between the two.

Ego really gets in the way – you send this out, and it is a little like sending your firstborn to school for the first time. You don’t know if the other kids will like them or if they’ll come home beat up. Sometimes your design comes back beat up – totally wrong. Usually it isn’t totally wrong, usually it is just a little off.

So you morph it a little, get it a little better, tweak it some more, and it is finally right. Not quite what you envisioned, but still good. Often MORE than you’d have done on your own. Sometimes less. Because people see things differently, like different things.

The real difference between a pro and an amateur is NOT whether or not they can get it right the first time. It is whether or not they accept the preferences of the client and gracefully make the changes required. A true commercial artist knows that ultimately, the goal isn’t to produce a masterpiece, much as we’d like to think it is. The goal is to please the client.

One of our clients is also a designer of a different sort. As we were building her gallery, she sent a shot of a project she had done, along with the description. She said, “Funny, I’ve never known if that one was better before, or after the job!”. I told her it did not matter – because it wasn’t about HER preferences, it was about what the client wanted. She wrote back and said that was true, and the client had LOVED it.

Sometimes we don’t think it is as good as it could have been. But if the client is pleased, the job was done right. That is hard when we know we are capable of so much more, or when their preferences seem to get in the way of good presentation. Success is built on more than just our talent to produce amazing things – it is also built on humility and kindness in dealing with clients and their own visions.

Over and over we do this – put all we have into it, then go back and change it to make it into something else. Over and over we graciously tell the client that we’ll make changes, and keep at it until they are satisfied, even when they hate our favorite part.

Because that is what professionals do.

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