Be frank with clients

For some, dealing with clients can be difficult. Clients don’t always know what is best for themselves, yet designers often give in to client demands, no matter how ludicrous they may be.

A technique some designers use to combat such clients is the “portfolio exclusion” technique. To implement this technique, what the designer does in response to an absurd demand from a client is say, “Sure. I can do that for you, but so you know I’m not going to put it in my portfolio.” Naturally, the client will be stunned by the response and will begin to question themselves. Once they ask “why?” the designer has them where they want them.

The designer kindly explains to the now potentially vulnerable client that they don’t agree with the clients absurd demand and with some luck, the client may give in. But if you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know I don’t condone this method.

“The designer is hoping the client is weak-minded enough to change there position, and that is just plain wrong.”

It’s unethical

The problem is that it is deceitful. Sure, the designer may actually be planning to exclude the work from your portfolio, but its wrong to play with the clients emotions in a last ditch attempt to get them to change there mind.  The designer is hoping the client is weak-minded enough to change there position, and that is just plain wrong. If a designer can’t convince a client to see things their way, they should either give in or just tell them no. Be frank. To be any other way is unethical.

In my previous post titled “Screw the client,” I proposed that there are three ways to deal with clients—do whatever they say, try to form a collaboration, or screw the client. This portfolio exclusion technique, one may think at first, would go in the toolbox of someone who follows the “Screw the Client.” However, this is in fact something a designer would say who is attempting to form a collaboration. After their collaboration failure, their only option is to make them give in by messing with the client’s emotions.

“…they end up with a portfolio of sites with features they don’t like, and so their portfolio doesn’t really represent them.”

It’s not full proof

Besides being unethical, the “portfolio exclusion” technique is not full proof, and so it can backfire on the designer. Good designers are bound to have creative differences with their clients, and so it is possible that they end up with a nearly empty portfolio. For the sake of their portfolio, the designer might decide they can’t afford to use the technique anymore. At that point though, they end up with a portfolio of sites with features they don’t like, and so their portfolio doesn’t really represent them.

Honestly, the best way to deal with clients who request design changes that don’t make sense is to tell them you are the designer—hired for your design sense—and that they need to listen to you. If they don’t want to listen to them, and you want to be frank, your options are to simply to tell them “yes,” “no,” or leave.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 10:06 am and is filed under Advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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