My sympathy goes to all those people who have had the (dis)pleasure of becoming a client to a designer and had the experience that they would never ever be able to forget.
Not that I am against the designers but then you have all read their side of story where the client is the monstrous evil wicked being who forces the designers to tweak and twirl already amazing design into an ugly masterpiece which according to them will win the Oscar for being the most ugly design of the decade.
So here is client's side of story in two phases.
You see as a client, I have already built an image in my mind to the kind of design I would like to have or would love to have. I don't want unicorns jumping on my design (the idea is tempting though) but I do have an image already set up in my imagination.
As a client, I expect my designer to deliver me an image that my eyes can see and relate to my imagination. Anything below the par line of that imagination will vex me because I have already set my standards high in my imaginative design.
Now as a client (the rational kind), I truly understand that there are clients who want kittens and unicorns and SpongeBob on their design and hence it becomes very difficult and honestly, impossible to give them what they like but for the rational client who just wants a sober looking online cupcake design, it shouldn't be so hard.
The problem begins with lack of communication. The client simply tells you what results or end product they want. Of course you understand it instantly.
But the problem develops in the end result. The end result you have in your mind and the end results your client has in their mind are totally different.
Therefore, when a client comes to you with an idea, take the time to offer them a cup of tea and discuss their idea. Ask them questions such as what colors they want to see, what kind of customers they want to attract, what age group is their target market, what patterns or style they want to have etc.
These answers will provide you a rough draft of what you are working for.
A degree in designing will give you the skills to place a sheep over the moon but it is only with the help of creative visualization that you will be able to place that sheep at the right degree of the moon where it looks more appealing.
Okay okay, I know that sheep over moon example wasn't so great but you get the point, right? So shall we not argue about my lack of creative visualization here? Thanks!
The problem with most designers is not their skills but their inability in creative visualization where the client may be more expert in. The client has a very deep thought about how he would like his design to be but the designer fails to form that visualization in his mind and hence simply makes a design based upon "client's word."
Contradicting to the point above, sometimes designers fail to deliver the required results to the clients not because they don't have skills or they lack visualization but due to difference in creative visualization where the designer could be far better than the client himself.
The designer, therefore, understands his client's work but his own creative visualization becomes far better than the idea suggested by the client.
But for a client, the results are not what he wants and that strikes to him as something "he didn't ask for and does not want."
Now that we have discussed the reasons why designers fail to deliver good results to the clients, we move to our second part of the story and this part goes to all the designers around the world. After having read this part, your entire designing strategy is going to change.
I promise a future of happy, satisfied and long term clients because this is coming to you from the client side.
Problem: 1. Lack of communication
A client comes to you and says he wants a unicorn on his website. A few days later you present him a design with rainbow saying "oh unicorns are just myths, so I thought why not go for something more appropriate like a rainbow, which is cute and it actually exists, unlike the unicorn idea."
What are you doing there?
You are simply giving them heart attack with words "YOUR IDEA SUCKED."
Solution: Playful use of words and clever communication skills.
Before you create a design as per what you think would be right, step back and consider talking to the client. It will not only save you the time of redoing everything all over again because the client wants it their way but it will also create a flexibility in the client to change his ideas.
Here are some examples:
What you want to say: "Your idea sucks."
What client would like to hear: "Your idea is great. Let's discuss it further."
What you want to say: "hahahaha, you must be kidding me with this idea."
What client would like to hear: "Hmmm, Your idea looks intricate. We need to fill the loopholes to make it work."
What you want to say: "Your idea lacks in so many ways."
What client would like to hear: "Your idea has a spark in it. How about YOU change this to that and that to this? It will make YOUR idea look amazing."
What you want to say: "I think the black color is bringing the design down."
What client would like to hear: "You know what? If YOU change the color from black to chocolate brown, that will give YOU really sleek design."
Do you see how a little trickery of words can make a huge change in what you are saying? Here are some amazing tactics of dealing with SEO clients posted on InkThemes. When you emphasize on words that compliment to your client's idea, you make them feel "worthy". They feel good in discussing their idea with you and in the process they become flexible in changing their idea with what you are suggesting.
Problem: 2. Lack of creative visualization.
A client comes to you and hands you over a rough draft of what design he wishes to have. You clearly have no idea how you will do it because let's face it, you are not creative enough. Now you do have a lot of massive skills in designing but you just lack creativity.
How do you get that creativity? It's not something you are born with and it's not something you can buy or achieve from elsewhere.
Solution: Get an inspiration.
Don't panic yourself thinking you cannot do it. Instead, surf the internet and look at similar projects. Do not, ever, steal the idea, because that's a crime I tell you. You just need to take an inspiration from similar work.
Present these ideas to your client and ascertain their response. Which designs did they like and which one they rejected? This will help you in making a design that is inspired, unique, creative and one that actually will be loved by your client.
Problem: 3. Difference in creative visualization.
A client comes to you with an idea that is good but you are a true creative visualizer. While the client is giving you his idea, your mind is already racing ahead of your client's idea into making it great, profound and unique. Your mind is giving you a million images, a billion words and a trillion color schemes that would make this "good" design into "très fantastique."
How do you deal with a quality that is so great and so wonderful? Obviously you just cannot kill your creativity and your skills to unique visualization of things?
Solution: Negotiate, Influence & Compromise.
Start by negotiating with your client about the idea they just gave you. You know where the lacking stand and you know where it can be made better. It's now your choice to either kill your creativity and make what the client has asked or communicate your own idea to your client.
Remember we spoke about playful use of words and clever communication skills. That comes here.
Next, you need to influence your idea upon the client. You have to make them believe that you are working with their original idea. You are not going to kill their original idea in an attempt to make your design shine out loud.
This is important because a client never likes it when a graphic designer makes so many changes to their original idea that in the end, it is not what they thought of.
Rather, work with their original idea. Compromise with your creative visualization wherever required because at the end of the day it is the client who has to be happy with your work and it is the client who is going to pay you when he gets good results.