Designing for clients can sometimes be challenging. Maybe you disagree about the creative direction. Or you’re having a hard time understanding the feedback you’re getting. This month, 99U digs deeper into the conversations designers and clients should be having to improve their work relationship and how to better understand one another’s needs.
Picture the average meeting in your company. Do the same people seem to do all the talking? Do you often feel like your ideas go unnoticed? You’re not crazy. Research has shown that free form meetings aren’t the most effective way to produce good ideas. Suggestions brought up earlier in the meeting tend to have more influence. Additionally, the negative aspects of an idea often alters our judgement more than the potential upside. And yes, in most meetings the same people do most of the talking. (read more)
There’s no shortage of people willing to provide unskillful feedback to creative professionals. From too-vague direction (one client once asked me, “Can you make it look more… yummy?”) to overly prescriptive requests (like the classic “make the logo bigger”), it often seems like the feedback we receive is designed to make our jobs more difficult.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: Your team is sitting around a conference table. They’re all staring at each other with a hint of angst in the air. The two most aggressive people in the group are speaking loudly and fighting for what they perceive is the right idea. An hour goes by with no progress. It ends with half-baked ideas sent over to the client and an uneasy feeling all around.
It sucks being told your work sucks, no matter how self-confident you are. And creative work is so infused with personal investment, not to mention open to completely subjective taste. It can feel particularly painful or frustrating to receive criticism of, say, your writing or illustration.
To make better decisions, rather than moving fast on what first appears to be the best option, we need to step back and ask questions first. It might sound counterintuitive, but the reason for first stepping back before moving forwards makes a lot of sense. Research from Stanford University shows that we tend to get locked into having only one alternative during the decision-making process, which limits our ability to consider broader options.
In a recent blog post, Kate Nasser takes issue with a phrase that has become commonplace in business discussions: “Fire the customer.” (Who uses it? Harvard Business Review does. Also Bloomberg Businessweek. And Yale Business School.). Recommending avoiding terms like “fire your customer” is good advice. But why do we talk like this? It’s more than just frustration with difficult clients, or those who are a little slow to catch on to our brilliant ideas, or ones that keep demanding better service and lower prices.