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Client revisions are normal and should be expected. Having a well-established creative process helps to minimize the need for design revisions but in the real world, you'll still need to make your clients happy. So how do you handle these requests for changes? Here are four questions you can ask yourself when auditing a client's request for revisions: One, will the revision strengthen or weaken the design for the intended audience? Fine art is purely subjective, but graphic design shouldn't be.
A revision will either improve or weaken a design. If a revision strengthens a design then it should be done, period, end of discussion. If a revision weakens the design, you should take the time to explain why the revision isn't a good idea. I always try to frame my response by letting the client know, I can make the change but in doing so, it may weaken the design. This is a non-confrontational way of putting responsibility of failure in their court.
Two, is the request being made a reasonable one? The answer to this question will depend on the totality of the creative preparation you did upfront. If your design direction was based on specific information your client supplied and they are now contradicting that information, then it may be an unreasonable request. If that's the case, a gentle reminder regarding the initial information they provided you may be warranted to resolve it.
A client request that strengthens a design is a reasonable one. Three, is the design appropriate for the intended audience? Sometimes the client's own preferences get in the way of a project progressing. They have an idea of what they like and they may not align with their target audience. As much as you try to gauge these types of perceptions upfront, you'll still run into them during the creative process.
If the client requests a revision but that revision moves it away from the intended audience then you should point that out. If they still insist you make that revision then that's when you ask yourself question number two. Four, how can I make this better? Sometimes a client's change request isn't necessarily a bad idea. In general, it may be a good idea but just needs to be improved upon before you move forward with it.
Qualify your agreement by letting them know that this is a good direction you can go from and strengthen the design. These are the moments that build trust between you and your client, so make sure you give them all the credit for the success. Sometimes you have to pick your battles in order to win the war. Maybe instead a lime green the client requests a mint green, these are simple yes requests. It's not worth the conflict to fight these battles.
Too many designers handle their design services like short order cooks in a greasy spoon. It's been said that design is now a commodity and I understand that attitude, but I refuse to facilitate a poor public perception for what we do as designers and what we offer the greater community. I encourage you to communicate with your clients honestly even when it comes to auditing their design revisions.
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