One of my all time guilty pleasures is watching Project Runway. I enjoy watching creativity under pressure. The contestants are given a client, a budget and a timeline. At the end of each challenge their designs go down the runway and then are critiqued by the judges. It’s interesting to see how the designers choose to respond. The designers that are successful and win are the ones who listen well, work hard and take the critique in stride. They don’t bad mouth or toss blame, instead they get better.
In the creative world, we’re constantly being critiqued. We generate ideas based on a need and budget and present to a client. We must always remember the end goal: to produce a successful design AND please the client in doing so. This is not always the easiest and sometimes the situation can be frustrating.
Here are 4 ways that I focus on improving my interaction- so that when I do receive criticism I know how and where to apply it.
1. LISTEN – When I first sit down to learn about a project – I want to capture the passion, mission and vision of the client. I want to make sure that they understand their own product really well. If they don’t, the design will not be clear and in the end unsuccessful. Take detailed notes, sketch, interact. Make sure you hear both what the client is needing and what they are wanting.
2. EXPLAIN – We create preliminary concepts from our sketches and research and present to the client. I make sure to explain the designs well. I want the client to know everything we did was intentional and thoughtful. Here are some examples: The meaning behind the typography choice, the historical reference, why the illustration fits, how the color enhances and doesn’t detract.
3. ASK QUESTIONS – If your client wants changes made – great! You want them to own their design. This is an investment on both parts. Make sure to ask good questions to clarify the ‘why’ behind the changes. Collaborate and make sure you have clear action items before moving on to the next editing phase. If you don’t, you will frustrate your client.
4. BE HUMBLE YET ASSERTIVE – No one likes a know-it-all, or the opposite, a push over. Remember you were hired to do a job. Part of the job is to make sure you give your client the best. If they are asking you to use a typeface or color that is going to hurt the end goal of the project, tell them by educating them. Make sure your motive is to give your absolute best, not to boost your ego.
In the end, if you don’t lose sight of your customer and their needs, you will be successful. What are some steps that you take to make sure that you give your best?