Friday, January 29, 2010

Design for yourself, clients, or the public?

As designers we are in a constant tug of war between what we think is the correct solution, what the client thinks is the correct solution, and ultimately what the public thinks is the correct solution. It's been said that designers should minor in psychology just to survive it all. At Design Hovie Studios it's something we deal with every day. How far do you push a client before they become upset and pull a project? Do you continue to push if you know what the client wants is wrong? All tough questions.

A couple of years ago we had an experience that added yet another ruffle to the mix. We pitched a client on a design we felt was perfect for them. After seeing the options the client agreed that our preferred direction was, indeed, the best way to proceed. They showed the new design to their focus groups and it was met with really good approval ratings. We thought it was all a done deal. Then an unforeseen wrinkle crept into the mix. The client's largest distributor saw the design and thought it wasn't right for their market. Having no other option (they had to have this avenue of distribution), my client was forced to come back to us and have us design a solution that wasn't what either of us thought was best, but rather what their distributor thought was best.

So, even if you, the client, and their public agree, there can still be yet another kink in the system to creating great design. Fortunately I'm old enough now to not understand that 90% of the time, designers have to compromise (if you don't realize this you'll simply go crazy or be depressed all the time). The key is inching out 5% or 10% more than you thought you could out of a solution. It's that extra bit that makes the difference.