Do You See What I See? Explaining Your Vision to Your Client
- Jake Miller
- April 3, 2013
The gloves are off and opinions are flying. In a creative profession, like graphic design, we are all faced with similar situations when meeting with a client. It may not always be a blood bath, but it has the potential to be uncomfortable. After all, it is two professional parties coming together, with their own opinions and agendas, trying to work out a common vision.
Ideally, both sides will take the time to carefully listen and attempt to communicate clearly (the key word: attempt.) Hence the title, do you see what I see? It is a game we all play when attempting to explain our ideas, visions, or purpose.
Those who are super hero enough, can somehow climb into a person’s head, root around, retrieve the vision, then climb back out with a clear objective and purpose (quite a messy job if you ask me.) But, those of us who are not super heroes must struggle to find that common vision. The way that is accomplished is through listening very carefully and asking questions.
During that whole process, I already start forming strategies and my own vision. I pay attention to any red flags that were raised and then attempt to “guide” the client away from potential pit falls. By doing so you have crossed a line and added you opinion to the table. Now, whose opinion is more important?
Some would say the client’s is more important because they are paying the bills. While others will take the Steve Jobs stance and say… “[they] don’t know what they want until you show them.” Both perspectives have valid arguments but, in order to answer the original question let me ask another. Who’s opinion has the most weight and matters the most? (Answer: neither)
Technically, the most important opinion is that of the consumer.
A graphic designer’s purpose is to create effective visual communication for the consumer. Otherwise, our work fails as design. Frank Chimero said, “People ignore design that ignores people.” So, the real game of do you see what I see is played with the consumer.
As creatives, we can get all caught up in the design process. Focus on what we are trying to communicate and how it is being communicated. We also take pride in our work and judge it according to style and our ability to design something aesthetically pleasing. As a result, the project becomes tied to our ego. But the true way we measure success as a graphic designer, is determined by how our communication is perceived. In other words, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So, if we want to help “guide” a client toward an effective solution, we better have something more than an opinion in our back pocket. Because, In the end, most people won’t care who had what opinion. They probably won’t even notice all the blood, sweat and tears that were poured into the project. But, what they do care about is if the design moved them.
Yes, a graphic designer’s job sounds thankless and we may play the unsung hero role at times. But, at least we can walk away knowing that we are heroes.
Jake Miller is a freelance designer and blogger at jmdesigns.org
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