Is This a Normal Client?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by 12dylan34, May 30, 2012.

  1. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    At present, I'm going to school for motion graphic design, but I've decided to do some freelance still graphic and web design stuff in the meantime, since I'm fairly good with Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as display sites in HTML and CSS.

    I've had several clients, but the one I have now is starting to drive me slightly crazy. I'm making a logo for his business, but we've been through like 12 revisions. While I'd love to get into specifics, I probably shouldn't, since this is in the public domain, but just know that I'm getting a lot of conflicting requests as what to do, etc. I've been trying to keep the logo as simple as possible, but the requests keep making it increasingly complex, incorporating elements that could never discerned at small, even medium sizes. He's also asking for complex 3D objects with reflections, tons of shading, etc, which I made in Cinema 4D, then incorporated into the logo. This, of course, is not vector (albeit, I made it quite high resolution), and could probably be made in Illustrator by more talented designers, but I'm not charging much, so I don't feel too bad about it.

    Most recently, I gave him exactly what he requested to be changed (which I didn't think looked that good), but also included a design that was much simpler, worked at small sizes and in a single color, as well as a list of why this logo would be better for his business and more versatile than the one that we were working on. I'm still waiting to hear back on this one. This was, of course, done politely, and I left the final decision up to him (obviously).

    My question is, as a designer, is the role to just make a good-looking version of what the client wants, or to have more of an impact on the content of the logo (for example, if the client wants 6 elements in their logo, tell them that it would be better to have only one or two, etc.) How common is it to tell a client (in a polite way) that they're wrong?

  2. sigmadog macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    near Spokane, WA
    It helps if you, as the designer, can express to the client the actual purpose of a logo. If you can't successfully convey that information before work begins, you run the risk of making yourself into a victim of whims of ignorance. Such appears to be the case in this situation.

    You need to find a way to become an equal member of the design team, not just a trained software monkey; though I fear in this case it may be too late.

    I've never forced my concepts onto unwilling clients, though I've often taken their initial ideas and improved/simplified them into an effective piece. Some clients want to be a part of the process, especially if they don't yet trust your abilities. Eventually, if you've been successful in enlisting them as part of the team, they will give you more rope to hang yourself.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    First. Idthe client was good at this he would not need to hire you.

    The best thing you could do is understand the client's real needs that try and educate him. If he goes no with changes you had better be working by the hour.

    You have to balance what he asked for and what he really needs and try to do both and tell him why. If he is actually getting educated he will keep you around but if all he sees is disagreement he will likely fire you. So make sure you are giving him advice he understands.
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Totally agree.

    There is no guaranteed way to ensure these kinds of situations don't occur, however, clearly communicating the purpose of the design and how it needs to be used in the real world can help prevent these misunderstandings.

    Interacting with a client is a learned skill. Consider this a valuable lesson in your burgeoning career.
  5. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Awesome, thanks guys! I'll see what he says to what I last told him. Great advice on expectations/purposes to set upfront though. I'll definitely do that with my next client.
  6. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Twenty years later I'm still figuring this out.

  7. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Absolutely spot on.

    It's learning curve when one ventures to the world of freelance, you have good clients and bad clients but the best advice I would give is to ensure good documentation and terms are set out before the onset of the project.

    Things in writing and signed off are an indispensable resources :cool:

    I'd suggest checking this and this they are good for a chuckle :)
  8. TheGenerous macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    I'm an Austronaut
  9. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
  10. Flood123, Jun 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

    Flood123 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2009
    Living Stateside
    I agree with ezekielrage_99. Before even starting the design process, you need a good contract. I never work without one. This will help make sure revisions don't get out of control and if they do you are compensated food for time.

    I got around to reading these links and as you said, got a bit chuckle. SPOT ON!
  11. benr0ck macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    Gotta know when to put the beret on and when to put the construction helmet on.
  12. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Thanks for posting those, they were pretty funny! Luckily I am working by the hour, but I agreed to a rate that I think is below my skill level because I was apprehensive to go against his offer...Terrible thing to do, but it won't happen again.
  13. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sure it will.

    We can't totally prevent mistakes and miscalculations.

    Just try to reasonably minimize them.
  14. jablko macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    Others here have given great advice on client education. To me, that's one of the biggest advantages to working in-house as opposed to being a freelancer. Even though you still have to educate your coworkers/clients in the same way, at least you don't have to start from the beginning with every single project.

    As for whether or not it's normal, it doesn't take long to find similar anecdotes if you peruse
  15. colquhounclan macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2011
    There also comes a time when a client has been more trouble than it's worth, and you may need to step away from the project. This often happens when the client wants a design you are not comfortable doing, or they make requests that you would hardly be proud to show.
    In this instance, it is always best to paid at intervals during the process, so that if you need to bow out, you have been compensated for most of the time you have put in to that point.
  16. dazzer21 macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    Crystal Clear Communication is king...

    As your experience increases, you'll be able to spot whether a job could potentially turn into a nightmare based on the solidity of the initial brief. First rule is that all arwork-related queries and amends should be made on paper. That is to say, at any stage during the process you should be able to provide the client with a record of what instructions were given at any particular point. I get clients who are all-too-eager to give amends on the phone because it's 'quicker' but if they are misconstrued, 'quicker' becomes 'slower and more expensive'. I insist on emailed amends and instructions.

    Briefs also need to be read over at least twice - you'd be surprised how a client's (bad) use of grammar or punctuation can literally twist the meaning of a sentence 180°. Be sure that you understand it and even if you just think it's not 100% crystal clear, query it.

    Producing an alternative to a client idea may prove fruitful if it turns out to be worthwhile - there's nothing more rewarding than a client coming back with a 'well, actually you were right - that does look a whole lot better'; but if the response is a 'nope, I'll stick with what I said...', you've wasted your time. Suggest your alternative before you start on the amend - it should meet with either a 'let's see my version first' response or 'OK - I'll be willing to see that'. If you do any work on the job that the client didn't specifically ask to see, then frankly it shouldn't go down on the time sheet.

    As the job moves on, though, in order to ram home the point how much time is being spent on it, give your amends revision numbers. Realistically, if you get past version 3 or 4 of major amends, it's all getting a bit silly. It means that the original brief has been manipulated somewhat to become what it is now. Very often, a client might have an idea as to what they want, but they don't really know what they want until they see it. And if the whole job has to go through a committee then you're in trouble!

    Unfortunately it makes quoting on jobs like this really a hit and miss affair if you're taking it all into account in one hit. If it helps, I quote on how long I think the initial artwork and two sets of amends would take. After that, it's by the hour.

    If that helps...
  17. ILikeTurtles macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2010
    Exactly! That's why I advise all new graphic designers to - RUN!!! Do something else before it's too late! Don't end up like me - middle aged and miserable with your job.
  18. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    Yep. It's part of the game, so get used to it and learn to work with it. Client's have some great ideas sometimes! :)
  19. MacSince1990 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2009
    #19're in school. Nothing you get paid is "below your skill level," provided it's more than $10/hour.
  20. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Forgot to quote.


    I'm certainly no veteran, especially since I haven't been doing it semi-professionally for long at all, but I've been doing visual digital media since I was around 10 years old, which is over 9 years. 4 of those have been with professional applications--Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and more recently, Cinema 4D. I believe that I have more to learn in terms of meaning behind design, etc. than how to use software, which not to sound cocky, but I believe that I am far ahead of my classmates in.

    Again, I know that I don't measure up to real professionals with tons of experience, like I would imagine you to be, but I do believe that I am capable of making some pretty good looking stuff. I know that good looking stuff isn't all of what design is, but I believe that my work is worth more than $10 an hour at this point, which is only a bit less than I'm charging this client.
  21. MacSince1990 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2009

    I'm not a professional graphic designer. I've used Photoshop for maybe 15 years (I'm 25), other than that nothing.

    My point is you're a 19 year old undergrad. You're a kid.
  22. dazzer21 macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    How patronising! We all started somewhere!
  23. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I knew a boy who ran a web design business when he was 11 years old. We all thought it was cute. He even wore a nice suit to client meetings. Most of his clients were family friends who were humouring him, of course, but there were a few real clients (arms-length relationships to the family). He learned a lot from these experiences and the combination of his personality and work experience let him quickly work his way up the ranks in his first software engineering job, where he became a technical manager, then got bored, quit that job, and created a startup. All in his 20's.

    Anyway, as far as hiring a design firm goes, I expect more than just competence with the software. I mean, I have CS5.5 too (bought and paid for, in case anyone asks :p) but that doesn't mean I'm a designer.
  24. G4DP macrumors 65816

    Mar 28, 2007
    You need to take a step back. Length of use with software mean absolutely nothing. I've been using Illustrator, Photoshop, etc for 15 years. I wouldn't class myself as a designer.

    Thinking you are above any job will get you no where. As a cartographer I can design some stunning maps but I would never turn down freelance work when it comes along. When you've graduated and made a few million, then you can decline work.

    If the client hasn't hired you for advice, don't give it. Just do as they say. They aren't paying you for advice they are paying you to implement their design. It will be damn hard to keep quiet, but you must.

    You should have had a written contract at the start stating exactly what the client wants from you.
  25. b0blndsy macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2010
    To answer your question...

    YES that is a normal client. Not the best type of client to have, but we cannot fully avoid them. Took me 38,000 donkey years to realize that the best way to go is set clear expectations at the onset by getting the client to sign off a contract that states how many revision cycles the design costs allow, and that additional charges apply for additional work. I also try to avoid clients who treat me as a mere "computer operator" and don't listen to my professional design advice. It is therefore our duty to educate the clients to trust our expertise because that's what they're paying us for. Unless you only charged them for doing the design per se, as opposed to charging them separately for the creative cost + design adaptations + revisions.

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