Clients and Creative Control

Clients and Creative Control

It’s happened to us all at one point. You toil over the design of your newest website project, cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s and finally complete that mockup for submission to the client. The client is overjoyed! You hit it right on! Oh but wait, he’d like a small change. He has this cute little animated gif of a butterfly that he thinks would look perfect right next to his horizontal menu. Oh and that nice neutral color you chose, he wants it bright yellow.

What do you do?

It’s not your site right? So he ruined a great design with his cute image – big deal right? Wrong. It’s your responsibility to give your professional opinion on your client’s creative input. Even if your advice is ignored, you tried. Sometimes your client can be his own worst enemy and you can’t always help it.

Establishing professional versus personal opinion

Before you run off and tell your client that he sucks at websites, you need to be sure that your professional opinion is actually an objective opinion. If it’s not objective, it’s subjective, and I would argue that your opinion is personal rather than professional. The big difference between these two opinions are that one is relevant to yourself, while the other is relevant to everyone else.

  • subjective: You don’t like yellow and hate butterflies
  • objective: the yellow background will make reading the text harder and the butterfly will distract the user

Good luck telling your client his website needs to be changed because you have an abnormal fear of butterflies you weenie 🙂

Avoiding the problem

The easiest and most effective way I’ve found to work with my client’s creative input is to have a good objective reason for everything on that mockup. The content is in order of importance, the menu is at the most logical spot and the butterfly image isn’t anywhere because it’s irrelevant. If you speak from the perspective of his visitors, he may just agree with you. I’m not saying that all client input is always bad or irrelevant, but if you can show your client that you’re doing your best to create a site with his visitor’s better interests in mind, he’ll probably trust you a lot more and drop the whole butterfly thing.

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