Turn bad clients into challenging projects.

Posted on August 31, 2017 in Thoughts

There have been times when I was tasked to design something that didn’t fit my style and in some cases, I didn’t feel like doing. Saying no may always be an option, but not necessarily the best one. Surprisingly I discovered that by taking on these tasks, the feeling of satisfaction I got after completing them was 10 times better than doing designs within my comfort zone. However, the first couple of times this happened, I noticed the increased struggle of coming up with new ideas. A very stressful situation that I managed to overcome by shifting my mindset a bit.

If you’re a freelancer who juggles multiple projects, such tasks usually come from people who have no idea on how to communicate their thoughts, let alone being able to understand a designer’s way of thinking. These types of people will most likely give you an assorted list of ideas and tidbits from all over the web, along with copy suggestions. Some of them might even tell you the exact colours and font sizes they want you to use. If you’re a designer, by this point you have already pictured a real client in your head and your frustration is rising!

Putting the creative rage aside, my initial approach to this is to gather all the specific information I was given into a Sketch artboard. It’s not going to be pretty, but it feels like the time when you open a new puzzle and you lay all the pieces on a table. At first, the result is extremely fuzzy and sense is nowhere to be found in the pile of assorted information. Once I have every copy, button, icon idea etc. on my artboard, my inner brainstorming mode switch turns ON. Having all the information in one place makes it easier for me to attach my inspiration to the design problem I’m facing. Usually, at this point, my OCD coping skills begin to kick in as well and as I try to order the chaos, certain design related details click.

Starting with structure, I gradually move to a more pixel perfect design and without even noticing, I am actually following the client’s guidelines because their initial constraints were already part of the puzzle I was trying to solve. In most cases, the end result is very close to what I would have done myself if I didn’t have that dictated design approach. But the best part is that my creations leave very little to no room for unnecessary corrections by the client. After all, everything is their idea!

So what does this mean? Should I strive to find projects or tasks like this? No, not really! But there are many take aways from this:

Be flexible
Don’t get stuck with one or two ways of doing things or you’ll end up doing the same thing again and again.

Skip the labels
There are no “bad clients” or “bad projects”. It’s just that you instinctively seek out what seems like a known path to you, a.k.a comfort zone.

Challenge your self
Taking up challenging projects can be the reason for your best work!

Think outside the box
Your workflow should never be written in stone. Finding new tools and ways to fuel your inspiration should be normal.

Every experience counts
A client who seems like he is dictating your design steps can also be your excuse to try something new regardless of the outcome.

Negativity is a virus
Being negative only because you didn’t feel like you had complete control over your work, will result in more negative results. Turn it around!

I’d like to believe that every “bad” situation can be translated and perceived as “challenging”. In most cases, this empowers me to evolve as a person but also as a designer!

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