This past weekend, our client Eric from Dilworth Billiards asked me to go jump out of an airplane with him. As you can see, I said "yes". It was a ton of fun, but one of the scariest things I have ever done. When I told everyone this morning about my temporary loss of sanity, they all said I should write a post about it. However, since this is our company blog, I thought I would try to relate the event back to design (while also letting everyone know I jumped out of an airplane!). Knowing when and how to say "no" to your clients is a critical and tricky skill that all good designers must master. If you always say "yes", your designs will suffer. “Center that”, “bold this”, “make it red” and of course the dreaded “make the logo bigger” are all on an endless list of bad design ideas clients will inevitably request. Mastering the skill of saying "no" is two fold.
First, do not assume that all client ideas are bad. Always hear your client’s design ideas out. Having an open conduit that ideas can flow through freely is imperative for a successful designer/client relationship. You will be suprised how many good ideas they will have. With that said, there are times when a client will suggest something that you know is a bad design decision. It is in these situations, when good designers will know it is time to say “no”.
The second part of mastering this skill is knowing how to say “no”. Usually a blunt “no” will not yield the desired results. I have found that clients normally respect the design decisions you make (or else they would not have hired you). Learn to say “no” without saying “no”. For example, “I think this way will be better because”, “actually I think this way better reflects the message because” or “maybe we do this instead, so that we can avoid this” are all good alternatives. Explaining to your clients why you have made certain design decisions will go along way in creating what you both want: the best possible design solution!