5 critical lessons your design professors never taught you

Posted by on September 19, 2012

There was an interesting article about five critical lesson recently published,


Basically these are:

Lesson 1:
Clients pay the bills, but the customer’s not always right.

Lesson 2:
You don’t have to present your design process when presenting your designs.

Lesson 3:
You don’t have to have decades of experience to land some great design gigs.

Lesson 4: Your elevator pitch is as important (or more important) than your design portfolio.

Lesson 5: Great designers steal.

I would like to address Lesson 1 specifically. The writer, Preston D Lee, states that we are not solely for the purpose of designing what the client thinks is best and that we need to position ourselves and establish a partnership with the client. This is true but doesn’t really explain the process. I tell my Interactive Media and Graphic Design students that when they first start working for a client, especially someone without a graphic background, do exactly what they want you to do. That’s how you will make them happy. Don’t surprise them with changing their corporate colors or redesigning their logo or ignoring their brand. Do the first few projects their way, this will gain you more respect than anything else. They will know you can take direction. If you see room for improvement, be patient, but also be cognizant of any established branding. Wait until their confidence in you grows. Then start making subtle changes, improving the design through use of focal point, emphasis, or eye direction. Start to consolidate their font library down to a few manageable, compatible fonts. Ease their color schemes into a more acceptable harmony. Some of this may be through open consultation with your client, some through just minor adjustments through multiple projects.

By following this plan you will be subconsciously educating your
client. He may not be noticeably aware of the changes but he will be impressed
that your work is looking better and is more visually appealing. Some day he
may look at one of your invoices and think he can find someone younger and
hungrier who will do the same thing cheaper. One or two projects later he will
consciously realize your work was better and well worth your expense. Or he may
see that the other designer’s work just isn’t marketing as well. In any case
you have educated your client and made him more critical of what he is buying.
And you have a client who will have complete confidence in you and your
opinions. Good job!

Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.