Dear Clients, Your Feedback Could Use Some Work
In the first part of this story, we looked at starting off your project strong by defining clear objectives for your design team and homing in on helpful details to produce effective design. If, after the first round of creative you still haven’t landed on a winner, you’ll still need to give additional direction on the changes you’d like to see made. The following tips will help you recognize what good feedback actually looks like and next steps in the process.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
You would easily be the best client in the world if you always liked everything. But that’s not reality. In an effort to maintain some level of acute client awesomeness, you may want to consider a few easy methods of providing feedback:
Giving compliments – we really like hearing about things that are successful and that work well for you in a design, and why.
Asking questions – asking the thought process or motivation behind an idea or design element can go a long way in understanding why that idea was presented in the first place and may even change your mind about it.
Listing out corrections – to ensure we’re all on the same page, and to help in situations with tight deadlines, you may want to provide a detailed list of edits that need to be made, as well as assets that must be included.
Giving zero direction – we aren’t mind readers, so without some description of your complaint, we’ll likely make the same mistakes again. Try pinpointing what’s not working and start there.
Showing another designer’s work – you hired us for some reason, which is probably because you wanted a fresh perspective on your project. Comparing us to designers you’ve worked with previously only confuses us more and doesn’t help to resolve the issues at hand.
Combining ideas – you may think you’ve had a brilliant idea of how to fix what isn’t working by combining a couple of the concepts you saw into one design. Well, if we thought that was a good idea, we would have showed it in the initial round of creative. Let’s just keep them separate and start with the most successful option, making changes from there.
REVISIONS, THE TYPICAL PROCESS.
Once you’ve given clear, decisive feedback, and your designer is on board with making those changes, it’s important to understand the next steps and timeline moving forward.
Shortly after the presentation, the designer will work to revise the designs as discussed. Or, based on how incorrect the original design was, they may offer a couple completely new ideas. Hopefully, they are able to land on an improved design, based on helpful feedback, that satisfies the objective and you as the client. If the second round of creative still isn’t making the cut, you have two options: give them one last chance or pay them for their work to date and cut ties. Hopefully you were able to provide detailed direction that got them closer to your creative goals, but if not, it might be best to consider new options, including new designers. I say this only because, in my experience, the client-designer relationship doesn’t improve much beyond these initial blunders. Perhaps I’ll touch on that more in a future post.
Usually, a few rounds of changes will be built into the original cost of the design. You probably paid a deposit to get the work started, and when the design is approved and provided to you, the rest of the balance will be due. Anything beyond that amount of work would typically be an extra charge. Be sure to clarify your designer’s terms and hourly rate for any additional changes made outside of the original agreement.
FINALLY, THE APPROVAL.
By now, you’ve seen several design options, made some comments to which the designer revised their work, and you’re feeling really great about where the designs have ended up. You’re ready to give your final approval and set your marketing plan in motion. But, are you really ready?
Nine times out of ten, a client will give a designer the “final approval” and then after a couple days, or showing the work to some colleagues or friends, they have some other ideas they want to see worked out. This above all else, is our greatest fear when working with clients. The reason being, is because it tells us you didn’t really know what you wanted in the first place. If additional time or other’s opinions can sway your decision, and sometimes far from the original objective, then we have a bigger problem. That’s why, as I mentioned before, take your time when giving feedback. It’s a big decision and not one that should be taking lightly. Making your mind up about something now doesn’t have to mean that are locked into a lifelong contract of never making updates. Initially however, when something is settled on, it’s a good idea to let the design stand on its own for a while and see how your audience reacts. They are, after all, the biggest indicator of an appropriate brand, message or marketing approach.
We hope that you have found these ideas helpful in providing solid, constructive criticism and forming more positive and long-lasting working relationships with your creative teams or designers. Take this information for what it’s meant to be: suggestions and not attacks. We love our clients and get excited about every new project that comes our way. We want nothing more than to see our clients excited about the work we present them and proud to put it in action. By implementing some of these tips, we’re sure you’ll feel the same!