Thursday, July 7, 2011

Designer Quandry

A former (wonderful, thoughtful, talented) student sent me an email the other day with a classic designer's dilemma...what do you do when your client wants you to base work on another design? And how do you sell a client on your design when they love something from before?

Tricky, sticky, complicated? Thoughts, please!

Hi Professor,
I have a bit of a problem, and would like to ask you for some advice.
I recently landed a web design internship, and what I do so far is set up appointments with clients in order to get a feeling of how they would like me to design their page. I mainly do the graphics though, since my coding skills are very minimal. However, I am in a bit of a slump because my first client seems very hard to influence. He wants me to design a layout that resembles a poster that someone else designed for him. By doing so, I feel like I'll only be ripping off someone else's work and ideas.
I decided to create two drafts for the client; one draft with my own ideas, and the other draft with what he wanted to go for. I put more effort into designing my own layout because I wanted my client to consider choosing a better alternative. However, my client still wanted to go for the draft that resembled his poster.
My problem is, how do you influence clients to stray away from ripping off another design? Although the poster was designed for him by someone else, it still feels weird for me to just copy someone else's work. It also seems like he is really set on having his layout look a certain way.
Even though my supervisors prefer my design, I don't know how to get my client to consider a layout that is more practical for a webpage.


firecracker said...

The client obviously knows the style he likes and wants to continue in that direction. If its a poster converted into a website then its a different media. You arent creating another poster. I suppose its more of using the poster as a guideline for the website since the formats are different. I would need to see both products to really see its its "ripping" it off.

As someone that has this dilemma everyday too me its not necessarily ripping off as its the wasting of time of having to draw something up that already exists. Our clients constantly send designs from our competition for us to draw up (again) and then give them a better price. It doesnt make sense but that's how it is. In the end is it worth it to lose the client? They will go to someone else who will just copy the work. I also find it hard for anything you do to be absolutely original as we are influenced daily by the images around us.

Beth Tondreau said...

Consistent branding

I agree that much of design is influenced by . . . well. . . everything. The client may want a certain consistent look. A poster adapted for a website is not ripping off as much as re-visioning. (Then again, if the adaptation doesn't work then the client may just be a putz).


Supervisors help to sell the idea

If more seasoned supervisors feel the designer's choice works better for a site, then can they not help to lead the client?


Advance the conversation.

A friend / client recently called with a dilemma about a logo that her company had in the works. The designer was following their "direction" but not taking it further, questioning, adding that certain something that makes the job distinctive. My point: listen to the client but try to advance the visual conversation. If that doesn't work, then perhaps the client is (hate to say it) not what's often called "qualified."

Working with the wrong--or unqualified--client is a choice. For a while, you may stay in it for the money, or the learning experience.


If all else fails

Professor Suzanne and I made up a fake credit for projects that we felt had gotten out of hand (or more accurately out of mind). It's sort of code for wink wink nod nod we did this for the (insert your own reason why).