Have you ever had a project that you’ve needed some design assistance on? A t-shirt design for your fraternity/sorority in college, a Save the Date for your best friend’s wedding, a website design for your B2B client… The list goes on and on. Nowadays, most of us are lucky to know someone who not only works on these types of projects on a professional basis, but enjoys doing them as well. These people are designers.

Personal Relationships, Professional Projects

Just recently, a friend from my childhood told me that her brother and his wife were expecting their first child, and she was taking on the task of planning the baby shower. I’ve known her brother for many years, so I was very excited to hear the news. I became even more excited when she asked me to design the invitation.

Of course as a designer (and friend), there was no question in my mind that I would take on the project. However, mixing personal relationships with professional projects can be tough sometimes, which is why it’s important to have the following with your client:

1. Good Communication

Communication is the key to having a successful client/designer relationship. Both parties need to be able to convey what they want (and don’t want, for that matter), how much they want to spend/charge, and have the freedom to give guidance and criticism. Like in many situations, everyone needs to feel like their opinion is being heard.

2. Defined Timeline

Sometimes it’s tough for designers because clients don’t have a full grasp on the process of design… It takes much longer than someone might think! No judgment, please, but there are times when we sit in Photoshop moving one letter a pixel to the left, and then to the right, and back to the left again for an hour; it’s just in our nature and we really can’t help it.

With that being said, it’s important to remember that projects have timelines. Designers need to be sure they’re conscious of their clients’ timelines, but it’s very helpful when clients have the understanding that in order to make something look good, it really does take time.

3. Clear Expectations

Expectations encompass both good communication and a defined timeline. Additionally, financials are always tough too, especially when you’re working with someone you know on a personal level. As a designer working with a friend, you don’t want to feel like you’re charging too much, but it’s always helpful when clients do their best to remember that this is our livelihood. Designers are always happy to help, it doesn’t mean we can do work for free. Time is valuable on both ends, and it’s important to communicate that from day 1 of a project.

Professional Relationships, Professional Projects

Since I’ve been at Walker Sands, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many different projects with many different clients. All have been great experiences, and I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve learned.

A project that really stands out to me, especially as it relates to a good client/designer relationship, is the website redesign we did for our client, The Northridge Group. They came to Walker Sands really looking to grow their online presence with a website facelift. Our website redesign with The Northridge Group is a great example of a good client/designer relationship, and this is why:

1. Good Communication

Much like working with someone on a personal level, good communication is crucial on a professional level. Professionally, we made sure that we communicated before, during and after the design was completed.

Before we started designing, we sat down to determine what they wanted and we developed a creative brief. We gave them a few different drafts of designs, had weekly conference calls, and moved along with the designs very quickly. We listened to what they wanted, and results were achieved in a very timely manner.

2. Defined Timeline

Our weekly conference calls kept everyone on a tight timeline and because the design process was so smooth when it came to communication, we were able to stay on deadline throughout the entire project.

3. Clear Expectations

As I mentioned before Expectations encompass both good communication and a defined timeline. Since The Northridge Group hired Walker Sands, a professional web design & development firm, they expected we would deliver.

To see some of our projects that exemplify a good client/designer relationship, please visit our work.