The Balancing Act: Creators, Clients, and Users

When you take on a project, it isn’t always going to be something that you have complete control over. Nine times out of ten, when you’re working for pay, you’re doing what a client asks you to do. They may give you as much creative freedom as you want, but you usually have to work within certain set parameters, fulfill certain requests, and otherwise keep to the deadlines that they set forth. After all, it’s what they pay you for.

The Balancing Act: Creators, Clients, and Users

Both you and your client may be missing what the actual user demographic wants. That’s the balancing act that you have as a designer, but it doesn’t need to be a deal breaker.

For creators and teams:

  1. Share input. Even if someone on your team isn’t an image designer, what they have to say about an image could be valuable. Never discount someone’s opinion or suggestion just because they don’t have your degree or your experience– you could be missing out on some good guidance.
  2. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Before you make a laundry list of promises to your clients, make sure that you’re actually up to the task. It may take more time than you realize, or it may simply be out of your depth, but the need to get the job can outweigh your common sense in these issues. Know your limits as a creator.
The Balancing Act: Creators, Clients, and Users

When dealing with clients:

  • Be honest, sometimes brutally honest. If your client is asking for something that sounds absurd on paper, you can safely bet it will actually be absurd to attempt to implement. Clients hire you because of your expertise in these matters. They aren’t the experts, so they may not know if certain functions would actually make a site slower. Sometimes, it’s your job to tell them that.
  • Know when to say “No.” Likewise, there will be times when you need to actually tell them that they can’t have something exactly the way that they want it. Nobody likes to hear this, but even fewer will want to say it out loud. You need to have clear communication with your clients if you want to have a good relationship and end up with a good product, and that communication is a two way street.

As for the users:

  • Do your research. Sometimes, it’s obvious who the users are going to be. If you’re creating a site that’s going to sell school supplies to the public, you’re probably dealing with parents and students. That’s a good start as to the age of your users, but you should also learn more about the devices they use, their common flow of traffic once they land on a page, and other vital details. Research your competition as well.
The Balancing Act: Creators, Clients, and Users

Don’t get stressed out! Remember, everyone in this process is human. The only mistake would be going in and assuming that all actors, even you, are going to turn in a perfect performance and provide perfect feedback. Learn, grow, and adapt your designs.