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Andy Rutledge

Project Killers - Part 1: Preference

by Andy Rutledge on Jul 5, 2012

Would you design for a client based mostly on your own individual preferences? No? Would you use your favorite textures for background or button elements just because they're your favorites? No? Would you go with rounded corners on structure just because you really like rounded corners? No, of course not. Design doesn't allow for this sort of subjective indulgence. Why, then, would you allow what your client likes or dislikes to impact your design work for them? By Andy Rutledge

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Brian Purkiss

Brian Purkiss | Jul 13, 2012 | 1:06pm

This is an issue we don't normally run into, but had the misfortune of running into it in two back to back projects.

At the beginning of the project we made it very clear that all information, goals, and concepts needed to be provided before the beginning of the design phase. We also made it clear that preference has no part in the work that we do as we focus on goals and content.

Part way through the project the clients became insistant on us re-working the design based on preference and new information that wasn't provided at the start of the project. We offered to work with the new information with some re-negotiation, but informed the client their design decisions based on preference would be detrimental to the success of the site. We explained exactly why, but the client was insistant on us giving them free work to accomodate their changes and new information.

Giving out free work like that is simply something that no design agency can afford to do as free work never ends. We parted ways with both clients and we're better off.

Andy Rutledge

Andy Rutledge | Jul 13, 2012 | 1:20pm

Wow, sounds like crummy situations, Brian. I think that what you describe is veeerrry common. It was something that I and my folks have had to deal with, so we added language to our contracts that has helped curtail these situations. Also worth mentioning that this part of the contract gets the most discussion with potential clients, as they see it as somewhat threatening. After discussion, things tend to work out.

Seems that subjective preference is something we're all loath to let go of!

Brian Purkiss

Brian Purkiss | Jul 13, 2012 | 1:31pm

Yeah. It was a bummer to part ways with them.

We have since adjusted our contract further and will be putting more emphasis during pre-project discussions on expectations, what we will be delivering, and how subjective preference has no place in design.

It's worth noting that these two clients are uncommon. The majority of clients get on board with how we do things when we demonstrate that we know what we're talking about and when we stick by our guns. Most new clients will try and back seat design once or twice, but we always respond with a long detailed response of the reasoning for everything that we did and they just about always get on board after that.

Just gotta stick to your guns and demonstrate proficiency.

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