Friday, October 12th, 2007

How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests
Email to a friend Comments (157)

Unveiling a solution is arguably the most harrowing aspect of the creative process. In our last post we talked about how we can work to better service our clients. In this one, I’ll share some of the best responses we have to questions that can often derail an otherwise effective solution.

My neighbours don’t like it.

I can appreciate you looking to friends for support on this project; however, it’s often difficult for others to understand the needs of the project at this stage. If you really believe these parties’ opinions to be valuable, we should involve them in the full process. Let’s schedule a sit-down with any new stakeholders next week, so that we can review the brief, strategy and challenges with them, and see if they still hold the same perspectives.

We really liked your portfolio; can you make our project look more like what you did for Client X?

It’s funny you ask that because we try to do the opposite. In our minds, we have to look at each client’s needs individually, and deliver a solution that’s uniquely theirs. It’s funny that you mention Client X, as they were initially very unsure of the approach we took, and it has ultimately served them very well.

Let’s not worry about what others are doing. I want the approach we deliver to be distinctly yours. Think of it as a new suit that you wouldn’t have thought of trying on. We’re pretty objective, and as such will help you find something that meets your needs. In time to come, you’ll find that it fits you quite nicely.

Someone in accounting mocked-up a really neat idea for this.

We’re happy to take a look at other ideas but sometimes doing so increases the overall time requirement, as we would need to answer more questions and increase the number of meetings. If you would like to do this, I can draft an addendum to the estimate to make a provision for this. Alternately, if budget is a key concern, I’d ask you to sit down with this individual and find out if there’s a specific problem they are working to solve. This may save some billable time, and help crystallize the concerns in a fashion that will help us respond best.

It’s a great start, but we need to add this, and this, and this…

I can understand your desire to not leave anything out, and it’s a not an uncommon sentiment. At the beginning of the project, however, you noted that you really wanted to build something around your customers’ needs. In my experience, the organizations that do this best focus on a few key items, and work to deliver them in the best way possible. Adding more can confuse customers and sometimes even scare them away. Just look at the most successful brands in the marketplace and you’ll see that they are highly selective in their messaging.

I love beige; can we get more beige in this?

Personal preferences are powerful motivators; personally, I love hot pink, but it doesn’t work in all settings. I’d like to step back to the creative brief for a moment. You note that your company really wants to connect with adolescent males who love hardcore sports. Do you think beige will connect with them?

I don’t really know what I think about this approach.

That’s fair; this is a big change from what you’ve done in the past, and in my mind, it’s a bold new direction for you. As a result it may take a while for you to absorb this one fully. So, let’s start with more strategic concerns. I’ve made a copy of our original assessment document, and have flipped to the project and messaging directives section. Let’s look over that, and see if we’re not meeting any of the requirements we set out with.

I just don’t know; it’s just so different.

That’s great; different is good! A key aspect to positioning your firm is to find an approach that others aren’t employing. It makes sense that you’re not sure about it though; new things often make people feel that way. I remember hating espresso when I tried it for the first time! Thank goodness I gave it a chance, as I feel quite differently now. Let’s look at the creative brief, and see if we’re meeting your predetermined criteria for the project. If we are, it could indicate that we just need take a little time to get used to this new direction.

Can we make the text bigger?

Yes. Could you perhaps show me a couple of other websites that employ a text-size that feels right to you? We can then compare the two to see how much larger we should make it. (Note: This often leads to us finding that the proposed text is actually larger than what the client had believed.)

I’ll know what I like when I see it.

A lot of people feel that way when it comes to visual treatments, but it’s hard for us to respond with such vague direction. Can you imagine ordering food like that? “Bring me something that’s good, and I’ll eat it if I like it. Otherwise, you’ll just have to make different dishes until I’m satisfied.”

Let’s me ask some questions that might help us identify what you are looking for. Is this approach too conservative or non-traditional? Does it feel overly light or dark? Are the images too passive or overly active? (Note: These questions can go on for some time; the focus is to keep them polarizing, in order to extrapolate some kind of hard response to aesthetic leanings.)

I was at this sandwich shop the other day, and they have an amazing website. Can we make ours look like theirs?

I don’t believe that doing so would result in a solution that meets your needs. Creative strategies are generally tailored to meet the particular requirements of a specific effort. That being said, it sounds like their site really resonated with you. Let’s take a look at their site, and try to extrapolate what points felt good to you. Maybe it will help us better learn what sensations you’d like to elicit on behalf of your audience.

I’ll end with two other little suggestions that you may find helpful. First of all, don’t just toss the design comps in front of the client. Start meetings with a review of the problems you’ve solved and the steps you went through to do so. This sets the stage for you to unveil the work and orients the clients in your process.

Additionally, don’t screw-up. Make sure you’ve addressed all of the necessary design challenges thoroughly and accurately. If there’s a hole in one part of your solution, it can raise questions about the entire approach. Even a small chink in the armor can erode your client’s trust.

Follow @karj to hear about these posts first.

Comments & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback: » Blog Archive » How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

  2. Pingback: » How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

  3. Pingback: How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests - DesignersTalk

  4. Pingback: The Abarentos Narrative » links for 2007-10-15

  5. Pingback: Real Art Blog » How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

  6. Pingback: links for 2007-10-14 through 2007-10-16 - ERIC ALBA dot org

  7. Pingback: ideasonideas: How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests - Matt Heerema : Web Design

  8. Pingback: Widoníd Another Hiro » 10 maneiras de raquetar um pedido néscio de um cliente

  9. Pingback: Widoníd Another Hiro » 10 maneiras de raquetar um pedido néscio de um cliente

  10. Pingback: Good reading « Publication Design

  11. Pingback: Craig Vidler | Weblog » links for 2007-10-18

  12. Pingback: » Ways to deal with 10 Client Concerns

  13. Pingback: View from W6th

  14. Pingback: Blue Gum Flat » Blog Archive » Site of the day

  15. Pingback: 10 ответов на “щекотливые” вопросы заказчиков » PokrovBlog | Максим Покровский о правильном Веб-дизайне

  16. Pingback: How to Disarm Problem Clients : Eyes on Creativity

  17. Pingback: bosses/clients are a-holes - DesignersTalk

  18. Pingback: Dartadesign blog » Blog Archive » IDEAS

  19. Pingback: A Momentary Lapse of Confusion » How to Disarm 10 Difficult Client Observations/Rrequests

  20. Pingback: 10 Ways to Deal With Clients

  21. Pingback: Владимир Демченков » Blog Archive » 10 способов обезоружить заказчика

  22. Pingback: CSS Collection » Blog Archive » How to Disarm 10 Difficult Client Observations/Requests

  23. Pingback: Disarming Client request « Les Fils De Shamgar

  24. Pingback: izms » Blog Archive » links for 2007-10-23

  25. Pingback: Links of Interest - CSS-Tricks

  26. Pingback: Working with Clients | MT-Soft Website Development

  27. Pingback: Great Retorts to Web Design Client Requests : Smarfy

  28. Pingback: » Linkswitch - Client Switch Freelance Switch

  29. Pingback: » Linkswitch - Client Switch

  30. Pingback: How-To Price Freelance Projects Successfully : Instigator Blog

  31. Pingback: vândpupăză » Blog Archive » Cand esti designer si clientii si-o iau incap

  32. Pingback: 10-difficult-Client requests «

  33. Pingback: How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests | Sascha Goebels WebLog

  34. Pingback: Derek Powazek – links for 2007-11-08

  35. Pingback: Karine Sabatier » Blog Archive » Just a link

  36. Pingback: October’s Most-Popular Links: Building successful communities, online journalism pay rates, newspapers’ information problems, McClatchy and URLs : Joe Think » Online News Blog Archive

  37. Pingback: Best Of October 2007 | Best of the Month | Smashing Magazine

  38. Pingback: Working with Clients | digiladee

  39. Pingback: Baboozine : Marketing,Ajax,design & co | Baboosh!

  40. Pingback: » mostly links. mostly. - Bill’s Blog

  41. Pingback:

  42. Pingback: Nubloo's Blog

  43. Pingback: Link 128 |

  44. Pingback: links for 2008-02-26 | C.K.

  45. Pingback: .: Designers who Blog: Design, Illustration, Photography, Web, Advertising, Branding … » Blog Archive » And WHAT a redesign it is! - ideasonideas

  46. Pingback: Блог Бизнес, Аналитика, Технологии и Информация » Blog Archive » 10 способов обезоружить заказчика

  47. Pingback: How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests at CD-ED // DArTT Blog

  48. Pingback: Nachlese Oktober 2007 - Die Seiten des Monats | Allgemeines | Dr. Web Weblog

  49. Pingback: "Disarming" difficult client requests » the zen kitchen, watertown MA

  50. Pingback: Portfolio » | In All Reality

  51. Pingback: SoulVisual | Le blog

  52. Pingback: glog

  53. Pingback: BlueGumTech » links for 2009-04-04

  54. Pingback: Scenario 9: I’m Just Going to Get Some Feedback via Facebook…

  55. Pingback: glog » How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests - the greydient weblog

  56. Pingback: glog » How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests - the greydient weblog

  57. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for ideasonideas - Eric Karjaluoto discusses design, brands and experience ? Blog Archive ? How to disarm 10 [] on

  58. Pingback: How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

Voice Your Opinion

Thoughtful and critical comments are welcomed, and we ask that you use your real name (just seems fair, doesn't it?). Offensive, derogatory, and dim-witted remarks will be removed or result in equally mean-spirited finger-pointing and mockery.


Not published