Last week I was with a potential client who told me that his previous experience with designers has been bad because they ignored what he wanted and just did whatever they wanted. This got me thinking, are designers an arrogant bunch?
Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself arrogant but then again that’s just my opinion isn’t it? However, I do think back on my college days and recall vividly a few arrogant designers that I knew at that time in my life. There was Maddie who knew better than everyone including our professors and she saw every constructive criticism as an invitation for conflict; which she was hell bent on winning. There was Leigh who was widely praised and whose work I admired; However, she was very snooty and secretive. Knowing what I know now perhaps it helps to put things in context. More on this later.
My freelance working experience has been a mixed blessing. I’ve mostly had great clients who gave me the opportunity to share in their dreams and project; many of them were genuinely happy with the work I had done for them. Some of whom I have stayed friends/acquaintances with till this day. The few that I had bad experiences with will only fall into the client from hell category. Do see my blog on that. My experience has put me in the path of clients who wanted ridiculous things like using a photograph mixed in with other complicated elements to form a logo, ignoring the warnings that this doesn’t work and then coming back to have it changed to another ridiculous version.
Then there are other clients who want to be overly involved in the design process and I get that they are paying for this. Still you wouldn’t tell your doctor how best to treat you, otherwise why hire him? However, by wanting to be involved they end up getting in the way. They nit-pick at various details that aren’t relevant to the overall success of the project.
As a designer I want the best for my clients because their success also reflects on me. My process has generally been to find out what the client wants, see what they need while using my design education and artistic style to solve the problem. In other words, finding a harmonious common ground that will solve the design problem at hand. The issue I’ve observed with some clients is that because they are hiring you to do the job they feel they know better than you and what is best for the project to succeed. So, if you were to offer a design solution that goes against what they have in mind they get upset and say that the designer isn’t following their requests.
As a designer one of the things that stayed with me through my education is that you begin with the target audience in mind or as the late Steven Covey put it “Begin with the end in mind”. One of the reasons I love the consultation session with a client prior to the start of a new design project is because it allows me to get a better understanding of them, their target audience and what they want. Sadly, enough half of the clients I’ve worked with were focused on themselves; and weren’t even sure who their target audience were or had a really broad range of target audience. I can see why a client would get upset and view a designer as arrogant for not giving him what he wants; when what he needs would best serve his target audience and him or her in the long run. If a client can convince me from a business aspect why a certain design decision is good or bad for the goal of the project, I am willing to make adjustments.
When I look back at my classmates Maddie and Leigh I am forced to consider, that though they may be designers their personalities will always come to the front. To be fair to them to being in the design program in college had a lot of prestige attached to it. If your work your good, you got recognition for it and everyone talked about you. This probably made people take more ownership of their work, even it is to the point of ego investment. That type of environment can often bring out competitive side of people and what might seem like arrogance is just their way of trying to stand out. I believe the same thing applies to clients as well who are probably accomplished in their fields and thinks that makes them qualified to judge what design is best for their project.
So, what has your experience been with designers? Do you still think they are an arrogant bunch? Leave your comments below.