All posts tagged “client”

How To Prevent ‘Sudden Client Designer Syndrome’


We’ve all been there: a client really, really wants to make a change to your design that, as a designer, you can immediately tell will result in disaster.

It happens to every designer, and, as far as I can tell, there’s no real way to avoid it. However, there is a method you can use to mitigate the problems caused by what I like to call “Sudden Client Designer Syndrome.” It has to do with User Experience (UX). Contrary to popular belief, UX is useful not only to web developers, but to any designer who designs any kind of product, information, or experience with a “user,” “consumer,” or “customer” in mind.

Create Objectivity

The reason why clients develop Designer Syndrome in the first place is that design is almost universally seen as a subjective discipline. In many ways, that’s completely true. Designers are called upon to navigate the fine line between marketing and art to develop creative solutions to problems.

It’s all very romantic, and clients can get to caught up in that mythology that they lose track of the fact that there is actual knowledge, experience, and quite often training that lies behind those decisions their designers make with seemingly no effort at all. People forget that it only looks easy. That’s okay; they’re only human. But if you’re the designer caught in the middle of this tangle, it can make your work quite frustrating and emotionally draining.

Businessman interactions by social media with business partners - vector illustrations

However, if you play to your clients’ true desires, you can often get them to understand the inherent objectivity that lies at the heart of what you do. What are your clients’ true desires, you ask? Well, if they’re anything like my clients, their true desires probably have something to do with generating maximum profits for their businesses.

This is an objective goal that you can use to your advantage. Your client may secretly wish he or she were an art director or a designer themselves, but the reason they’ve hired you is because they want to generate the most lucrative product, service, or information possible.

Your primary task when dealing with a ‘wannabe designer client’ is to remind them of this fact as often (and as politely) as possible. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you always talk about your design decisions in terms of the user, rather than isolating the visuals or the mechanics and selling the client purely on your design’s technical merit.

Whether your client is selling shoes, a personal philosophy, or organic dog food, he or she can always be persuaded to put their users first. (If they can’t, it’s probably time to find a new client.)

Do Your Research

Here’s a trick you can use to automatically boost your desirability to clients, getting them not only to trust you for every project they give you, but which will also make you a sought-after expert to other prospective clients in the same industry: figure out the target audience your client is targeting, and focus your effort on getting into the head of the ideal example of that audience.

When you zero in on serving a particular market through your clients, you automatically raise your desirability as a designer, and you make your career less about your individual clients, and more about the industry that needs your services.

Vector illustration of web analytics information and development website statistic

You can spend a lot of time being a “generalist” and go after any kind of design job you can find, or you can narrow down your services to a few key markets and spend some time getting to know exactly what goes on in the psychology of those types of consumers.

For example, if you’re a freelance branding designer who does work for start ups, take some time and think about exactly what kind of start ups you’re targeting. What do they sell? Who buys their products or services. Those are the people you want to please – not your client.

And, phrased just the right way, this will become evident to your client as well. Of course, you should never be rude or condescending to a client, but if you make it clear that you are an expert on your client’s target market, they will trust you that much more, and they will also recommend you to their colleagues in the same industry that much more frequently.

Be the Client

Creating user personas is an excellent technique that business owners use to gain insight into the psychology of their target market. Designers use it as well when they are developing content or products on their client’s behalf. However, you can also use this technique on your clients themselves.

As I said before, your career will be much more streamlined if you focus in and get to know the target demographics you serve most often with your designs. But it’s also a good idea to spend time getting to know the clients you serve most often. Clients are your target market; as such, they can be dissected and studied using business savvy and marketing psychology.

It might sound cold and mechanical, but believe me, it’s much simpler than going into a design meeting completely blind, attempting to figure out each client individually. Doing several hours of research in your spare time will eliminate the guesswork from your freelance business, and your clients will be immensely grateful that you can seemingly “read their minds.”

Flat illustration of communication by social media - vector illustration

So, how do you go about doing this research? By finding the types of people you’d most like to work for, and contacting them about their wants and needs in a designer. Email them, call them up, invite them out for a chat over coffee.

Gather enough of this data and you’ll start to see patterns emerge. These patterns are the basis for your client persona – they are what you can use to generate a bulletproof knowledge of nearly every client you serve. There will always be exceptions, but by gathering research, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of getting a client that you absolutely can’t deal with. And if you do get one of those clients, well, you know what to do by now (hint: it involves running).

Concluding

It’s important to actually do these things, rather than just think about them. The reason is that what you think your clients and target users want is often very different than what they actually want. This is why so many business ideas fail before they even get off the ground. People don’t do their research; they don’t communicate directly with their market, and so they fail to realize what others are really looking for.

To position yourself ahead of all the other lazy, mediocre designers out there, it’s important that you actually take the time to get into the heads of your market, whether it’s clients or users.

What Do You Think?

Do you spend time getting to know what your clients or end users really want? How has it helped your design process?

All images from Max Griboedov’s potfolio on Shutterstock.


The post How To Prevent ‘Sudden Client Designer Syndrome’ appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.


Speckyboy Web Design Magazine

Nightmare clients: the one where the client doesn’t pay

Read more about Nightmare clients: the one where the client doesn’t pay at CreativeBloq.com


Terrible clients come in all shapes and sizes.




Creative Bloq

Use Hiveage For Client Invoicing

Are you a freelancer? Do you own a small business? If yes then you need a good invoicing software.

With so much competition around you need to be professional in all aspects of your work in order to survive.

You need a good self hosted website, a good theme, a professional email address and domain name, etc. Similarly your invoice needs to conform to some professional standards.

In 2006 a bunch of people set out to create an online invoicing solution for small businesses. That solution known as CurdBee is today used by thousands of freelancers and small business owners from more than 140 countries.

Hiveage is the spiritual successor of CurdBee. Hiveage is re-imagined and re-developed from scratch. It does everything faster and better.

Below I discuss some of the important features of Hiveage.

  • Simple and intuitive user interface

The creators of Hiveage understand that your business is your first priority. You can’t spend hours after hours creating invoices and sending to clients.

Thus they have designed their software in such a way that it is intuitive and very easy to understand. There is no long or complicated learning curve.

Go and register and spend some time on the dashboard and you will soon get the knack of it.

They also supplement their design with lots of graphs and charts making it even easier for you to use the software and read the data.

The image below shows what I mean. It is a screenshot of one page of the dashboard.

Dashboard

These are merely example graphics and do not reflect my real bills but they convey what I am talking about. As you can see the way the data is presented in different colors and formats, this makes it very easy for the user to use the software.

  • Pay only for what you need

Do you need to watch Discovery Channel? Yes? Okay.

But do you need Cartoon Network? If you are busy with your business then perhaps not.

How nice it would be if your cable operator would allow you to choose the individual channels you really want and charge the bills accordingly?

Hiveage lets you do that.

hiveage-screenshot-4-pricing

As the screenshot above shows Hiveage lets you choose out of many different options. The price for each feature is also displayed beneath each option.

All these features are quite useful and see which ones suit you the best.

For example the feature named Recurring Billing will let you send out bills automatically. If you have some clients whom you charge a fixed amount every month then this feature will help you automate that process. Recurring Billing will automatically send out invoices to different clients as per your setup instructions.

If your client insists he will send payment only through Authorize then you can activate the feature named Authorize.Net and start using that merchant account.

Thus unlike other invoicing software which thrust their plans on you, Hiveage allows you to create your own plan.

  • Localization with many languages

hiveage-screenshot-5-languages

Hiveage is currently available in 18 languages and the developers are working to include more languages soon.

At present this feature only supports invoices, estimates and receipts and you cannot translate the user interface or in-app messages yet.

The client can see the translated statement when he will click on the link to the invoice which appears in the notification email.

The primary language is automatically applied to all new connections by default, and you can change this to any of the enabled languages when adding or editing a connection.

For example, if you use English primarily but would like to send an invoice in French to a particular client, you can enable French from your Localization section, and then select Spanish as the language for this client from their business profile in the Network section.

  • Grab the deal on Dec 1

On Dec 1, 2014 Hiveage is coming up with a huge discount deal.

Hiveage Big 5 is a plan which allows five different users to use the software with every feature included. They typically charge $ 299.95 per year for this plan however on Dec 1 they will allow you to purchase it for $ 199.95 per year.

Additionally they will honor this commitment forever, no matter how much their pricing changes in the future.

Please note that this deal works on a first come first serve basis. And there are only 100 slots available. So you will have to be quick to avail this opportunity.

You may want to register on the site by submitting your email address so that you will be alerted as soon as the deal goes live.

 

So go and take a look at the website. It is worth checking out. I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Drop in a comment below telling me your thoughts about Hiveage.


SmashingApps.com

Why mixing client work with education leads to innovative design

Read more about Why mixing client work with education leads to innovative design at CreativeBloq.com


Education needn’t end when a design career begins. Not content with running a successful studio with an international clientele, TwoPoints.Net co-founders Martin Lorenz and Lupi Asensio also direct degree programmes and somehow find the time to study, too.




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7 Actionable Ways to Build a Strong Client List from Scratch

You’ve undergone the army training on Codecademy, you’ve read every possible article there is on A List Apart, and there isn’t a single Photoshop brush that you haven’t tried already. You’ve excelled…

Click through to read the rest of the story on the Vandelay Design Blog.


Vandelay Design

7 Actionable Ways to Build a Strong Client List from Scratch

You’ve undergone the army training on Codecademy, you’ve read every possible article there is on A List Apart, and there isn’t a single Photoshop brush that you haven’t tried already. You’ve excelled…

Click through to read the rest of the story on the Vandelay Design Blog.


Vandelay Design

Designers’ uniquely intricate responses to client briefs

Read more about Designers’ uniquely intricate responses to client briefs at CreativeBloq.com


youtube: ZFc1JeGs-2A Winning a new client in the competitive industry of design is no easy task. However, a whole host of South African designers have decided to turn the initial briefs into something creative that may unlock the secrets of great client relationships.




Creative Bloq

7 steps to getting a reluctant client to pay

Read more about 7 steps to getting a reluctant client to pay at CreativeBloq.com


Short of cash? Here’s how to chase those recalcitrant clients… Image courtesy of Magnus D (https://www.flickr.com/photos/magnus_d/)




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Design Dilemma: Using a Humorous Client Sales Pitch

ds.begging.featured

“How do I find clients?” is the question I get the most from beginners, as well as experienced professionals (finding work is tough these days and getting harder for freelancers).

There are certainly steps one can take but, having received this message addressed to me via the Design Dilemma email account, I had to read it to see if there was a question attached. There wasn’t, but “Bob’s” plea presented an interesting conundrum — by being “humorous” did “Bob” show his human side in hopes that someone would want to work with him or should he have made a serious sales pitch, spotlighting his past work and abilities? Let’s take a closer look.

The Dilemma

It’s a mistake many freelancers make (even I have done that — many times!). It didn’t work, and actually lost me a prospective client that could have skyrocketed my work and reputation. I blew it. So, learn from my mistake.. or “Bob’s” mistake, maybe? Join us as we delve into another shocking Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design.

What would you think if you received this email? Does it instill confidence and interest?

Freelance Designer / Waffle Enthusiast

Hello, my name is “Bob” and I’m a graphic + web designer in Los Angeles, originally from Portland, Oregon (yes, it is as strange and amazing as you’ve probably heard). I would love it if you checked out my work at (website URL) and considered me for one of your upcoming projects (design related, no house cleaning or car washing requests, although I’m certainly not above it in an off month).

“By all means, tell me if you don’t want to hear from me again, but please consider being polite by not insulting my lovely mother when doing so.”

It is my strong desire to be your design guy, almost as much as I desire a fluffy Belgian waffle smothered in butter and maple syrup on a frequent but sensible enough basis which won’t cause me to lose teeth and be forced to play the banjo in order to fully express my emotions. So, please get in touch at your earliest convenience to discuss your design needs, so that we may avoid such a senseless and regrettable outcome. I don’t want to bore you with any superfluous correspondence, so that is all. Thanks very much, please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever, and I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. My apologies if this reached you in error, I’m sincerely just a freelancer trying to earn a living. By all means, tell me if you don’t want to hear from me again, but please consider being polite by not insulting my lovely mother when doing so.

I made an attempt to be the least obnoxious I could be in writing this message and moronic hostility really bums me out, while reducing my hope for the world ultimately refraining from mindless self-implosion.

I’m not some marketing guy trying to sell you inflatable swimming pool insurance or webcam model requesting you to look at my body in a nauseating combination of capital letters, lowercase, and symbols. It’s rather hairy and you wouldn’t like that, trust me. Have a wonderful day.

P.P.S. I’m also available for ad copy and birthday parties, but refuse to jump out of any more cakes.

Coming Back From Embarrassment

Before sending out a promotional message, pass it by a couple of other designers to see how they feel about the tone, content and spelling. It takes an average (so the experts say) of five to seven good solid contacts before getting work from a targeted prospective client. Make each contact count!

Some say it’s who you know and not what you know. Well, that has a lot of truth but you also need talent to keep the client. If you are confident that at least the majority of the recipients of a humorous message will react positively, then why not give it a try?

“Sadly, I myself am an expert at this as I have no inner monologue and everything I’m thinking spills out for all to hear.”

My experience, including trying to get into National Lampoon (and the art director was a former teacher of mine who liked me… or lied about liking me) and MAD Magazine (which I finally got into via very serious corporate channels), was that a light banter in real-speak works well but outright humor will end up being misinterpreted by some people. Sometimes it’s the majority of people who see it.

Sadly, I myself am an expert at this. I have no inner monologue, and everything I’m thinking spills out for all to hear. When I lost a big chance (NYC’s largest newspaper) by “being funny,” I felt horrible. There was no way to ask for forgiveness, as this prospective client made that fact fully known. Sure, I think she was being a little too serious about my message, but I was screwed. I had to wait for two years before she left her position and her replacement hired me as a regular contributor. Sometimes time heals all wounds — too much time for some to survive!

“Bob” Has a Surprise!

When I sent “Bob” my reply, thinking he hadn’t had a good reply (I mean, why send an email to Design Shack, inquiring about available freelance design work?), he had very good news!

I’ve actually never had a more successful campaign in my life. Humor does, in fact, work. And it works exceedingly. The trick is whether or not it is actually funny. In my case, I have hundreds of responses from people affirming it is indeed just that. I could forward some of them to you, if you like.

“The trick is whether or not it is actually funny. In my case, I have hundreds of responses from people affirming it is indeed just that. The negative responses are minuscule by comparison. I needed work for my design business, but am also a writer. So, I used that strength to my advantage and voila… people responded and I have over two dozen new clients as a result.”

The negative responses are minuscule by comparison. I needed work for my design business, but am also a writer (the former allows me more time to invest into the latter). So, I used that strength to my advantage and voila… people responded and I have over two dozen new clients as a result.

Society is tired of the same old, tired, boring, lifeless, uncreative, overly serious approaches. We are barraged by them everyday by giant corporations we despise, so why should a HUMAN emulate it in simply looking for work? Either the work is good and of a decent value or its not and we all know this.

The world needs more humor, wherever we can get it, and as such it rarely goes unappreciated. I’m afraid you might actually come across a bit stiff on your blog, but to each their own. Either way, thanks very much for the feedback.

Naturally, I congratulated “Bob” and asked him to give some figures on response rates and was he planning on continuing using humor in future marketing outreach.

Well, the response is at least 95% positive, conservatively. The negative responses are few and far between. I’ve received several stating its the best email solicitation they’ve ever received. And once in a while someone tells me to kill myself, so it all balances out. :)

I used the approach, because I just wanted to be honest and simply write the way that I do best. I’m an aspiring comedy screenwriter (I still say aspiring, even though I’ve been paid to do it, because its not a real living yet) and happen to have a tiny bit of talent in some other areas, one of them being design. So, I’ve done that as a freelancer on and off for several years to have a little more autonomy over my schedule than a corporate position would ever allow.

It was more of a struggle until I started reaching out to people in a distinct voice, which is likewise the goal of screenwriting. Drawing someone into your story, even if that story is mostly structured to make you laugh. As far as other campaigns, no plans, although I have tried it for my photography services, as well, with less success for logistical/geographical reasons.

I do think if I were pitching a product rather than offering my services, it would be less personal and thus not received nearly as well, but I have no data to back that up, just a hunch.

I guess you have to know your audience well and hope the death threats aren’t from your top 5% client wish list. Personally such an extreme use of humor never worked for me. Have you ever tried a unique approach? What were your responses? What would you think if you received one of “Bob’s” emails? Tell us in the comments section.

Send Us Your Dilemma!

Do you have a design dilemma? Speider Schneider will personally answer your questions — just send your dilemma to dilemma@designshack.net

Image ©GL Stock Images

Design Shack

What’s the most unhelpful client feedback you’ve received?

Read more about What’s the most unhelpful client feedback you’ve received? at CreativeBloq.com


Nightmare clients are a fact of life for all designers; even if you know all the secrets of keeping clients on side, sooner or later you’re going to run into a client from hell. We asked six top creatives to tell us about the worst client feedback they’ve ever had.




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