As the saying goes “ the best defense is a good offense”. Nothing can be more deflating than your client is unsatisfied with what you come up with. It not only hits your ego, but also affects your time. While supporting your client’s needs and wants, you should find ways to stay ahead of the ball to mitigate any future friction. So, How can we as designers own our design decisions and push back against a client?
Lean on the principles of design and the value of your client
To come up with design principles, we take a lot of data and hard work into consideration. Ideally, they should be based on the users’ needs, primary research and the values of the client/company. Most importantly, it’s our responsibility to carry them through the design decision we make. When we consider the client’s value with our design principle and agreeing on the principles with relevant stakeholders is going to ensure a successful product while building peaceful relationship .
Speak in numbers
Numbers equate to value. Doing your research before jumping into any project is wisely advised. If you have any data or analytics to back your design decisions, use them. Both quantitative and qualitative datas are helpful in justifying your design decision. Especially the direct quotes from your user research, that’s a valuable evidence and a strong foundation for your designs. If there is not enough data to prove or disprove a statement, be sure to be honest and communicate that clearly to your client. I personally think integrity and transparency are the most important personal values while working in any area of the design. I believe that most people appreciate transparency no matter how the outcome will be.
The “plan B” in design
If time allows, come up with alternative design decisions. It does not have to be complete, but at least provides a frame work (theme) for the alternative design. I usually do this when I’m building my mood boards and style tiles while following the same principles and data. However, be mindful of advertising the alternative designs and explaining it to the client. Compare and contrast the differences of both or multiple. Having a back-up plan is not a sign of lack of confidence, it represents freedom and an open-mind.
Getting back on your feet
If you find yourself being lost and confused in critics, maybe you should take a step back and re-evaluate your design in solitude with honesty. If you agree that there is a loophole in your design, own it, fix it, communicate and come up with new negotiation with your client. Be clear and informative when addressing the concerns. It will help the client understand the design process better, and also explains design is a step by step process instead of an overnight achievement.
Owning your design is not only to own the best version of it, it means to own the good and the bad at the same time. As a designer, you have to question your designs professionally than anyone else. Admitting mistakes on time rather than later is better because you save your time and energy from falling down the wrong rabbit hole later. Own your design decisions and confirm them with your clients with transparency helps you to gain back and maintain your confidence. Remember, open-mind is the key, be rational rather than emotional so that your ego don’t ruin your chances.