Do your design projects go off the rails?

Have you noticed that some (or most) of your design projects go off the rails? Or that your design budget always balloons? Or that a design project goes from fun to fraught?

You are not alone!

Sometimes it can seem like the designer and the client are speaking two very different languages. In her book, Dear Client, This Book Will Teach You How to Get What You Want from Creative People, the veteran designer Bonnie Siegler writes, “the creative process is not just a matter of giving an assignment and getting a result. There are many phases. Every aspect of the journey needs care and attention. And any collaboration is only as good as the relationships, which take work.”

There Is no magic formula for creating a successful project, or an ideal working relationship. But Siegler touches on many things (sixty-six to be exact!) that can help foster a strong connection between the client and designer in order to get the result they both want. For example, “No. 27: Best Practices Work Best When They Are Flexible”, suggests three general tenets for everyone involved in a project to strive for:

1. Clarity

“If we have a clear brief and terms, we will have eliminated the cause of most problems before work has begun.”

2. Communication

“If you are open and honest from the outset, we will go above and beyond our obligations. The more we understand your goals, the approval process, and how your company works, the more we will surpass expectations. Give us information and the space to do what we do best, and you should be pleased with the results.”

3. Courage

“Nothing great happens when decisions are driven by fear (fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of getting it wrong . . . ). Just keep in mind, even people who do take risks harbour those fears. Not every solution needs to be risky, but you can benefit from a little bravery when encountering a direction you didn’t expect.”

The book even offers some great ways to frame providing feedback to a designer and what to do when you “kind of hate what you see” (it’s rare . . . but it happens). If you’ve ever wondered how designers work, or think, or wanted to know how to collaborate better on design projects, this is definitely a book worth investing in.

Written by: Lauren Wickware

Previously published on LinkedIn

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