Obstacles of design: the client’s objections and perplexities

There are rumors that the worst client of a designer is oneself: self-criticism, a taste that changes frequently, routine, boredom, the craving for something new. A statement born from being aware of the fact that designing a layout/logo/business card to represent and thrill us at the same time is often a considerably more challenging undertaking compared to designing a product to satisfy an external customer.

Many of those who want you to be available online have neither particular aesthetic requirements nor anything which to compare your work: do a decent job, even though not flawless, and in most cases your client will be totally satisfied with the final product, ready to recommend you to friends and relatives.

In most cases, obviously, but not all.

It’s becoming a common occurrence: that of the well-informed client (or at least who thinks so) who puts in doubt every choice of the designer, from the chromatic tonalities to the position of graphic elements; that of the client who continuously contrasts his product to that of competitors trying to find deficiencies in the work performed, etc. And, on the other hand, the designer who can’t handle properly this sort of customer base or motivate one’s own aesthetic choices satisfactorily.

A small planet of objections, recriminations and perplexities, in which working – and collaborating – often becomes frustrating. That’s something that translates into drafts not being accepted, modifications after modifications to be continuously made to the project, dissatisfaction on both sides.

Is there a way to avoid the client’s objections? Obviously there is no standard solution, we are all thinking beings, with distinctive taste and opinions, more or less objectionable. The standard procedure requires that, before the designing of any graphic project, a briefing be drafted containing, among other things, all the information regarding the aesthetic/chromatic/planning preferences of the client.

With the information obtained in this phase, you can create a general idea of the likes of the client and what he expects from our work. Starting a graphic project already knowing on which colors and style to concentrate on (or, vice versa, which colors to avoid) visibly limits the risk of creating a product diametrically opposed to the product requested by our client. And for which the client is obviously not willing to pay.

Which are some ‘typical’ objections a client could make?

Based on my experience and by reading here and there I have noticed some objections which we could, if we want, define as standard.

The intro page: love and hate

Web designers are users who surf daily and who spend a large part of their time on the web. Experience teaches, it is often said, and just because of that we are all ready not to recommend the creation of the classic intro, animated and with music on the background maybe, in favor of a ‘soft’ website and which guarantees an immediate access to the content.

If your client asks you for an intro page, do not challenge such a choice eliminating it completely with an ‘it’s out of date, nobody uses it any longer’, after all this is a consideration which could be deemed merely questionable. Give your client the possibility to experience himself/herself the pros and cons of such choice and let him/her always have the last say: your duty is to guide the clients towards the right choice, not to impose on them the one you consider as such.

Which are the cons of an intro? We all know that. It’s useless. If the website has captivating graphics there is no aesthetic reason for having an initial page that has no function of its own. Besides, the user has to click once more to reach the real website and find the stuff he/she is looking for. Which are the pros of an intro? Objectively, there are none. No subjective consideration, no ‘ugly’ or ‘out of date’, only a brief and clear analysis on the utility of this page.

The minimalist style: there’s no graphics

In Italy the minimalist style has a few followers, it’s a fact. At first impact the minimalist style can appear bare, cold, not so friendly. “But where is the graphics?” may a client ask. And you should answer that the graphics lies in the white spaces, in the treatment of typography, in the focus of contents. But for these concepts, alas, the time is not ripe yet.

Before you opt for a strongly minimalist layout, make sure that this choice is, on a communicative level, the best for the project you are working on. Here your personal taste or the trend of the moment have nothing to do: the website has to reflect the interiority of services/products offered by your client and has to do it the right way. If you think that the minimalist style is the right one, prepare some efficient samples to show to your client, test the ground by showing him some projects in this style, be prepared to explain the strengths and the main features of the latter.

I don’t like it

The objection of the objections. In front of a ‘I don’t like it’, as well as a less bloody ‘it’s not like I thought’, you need first to hang your head. Did we get something wrong, but what exactly? Maybe we have not completely understood the taste and the requirements of our client, or maybe we worked without reference information, or could be that we have once again put our fantasy and preferences before those of the person in front of us. Maybe we have created a fine product, the perfect union between grace and functionality, remains a fact that our client is not pleased with the outcome. And now?

Each contract should entail, in the initial price, a sum destined to cover the eventual modifications to be made to the project based on the corrections requested by the client. If we have to start from scratch again, you have to make a few considerations before taking action. The work you have performed is really the best you can offer, considering the budget and the requests of the client? Are you so sure that the quality of your work is result of information obtained and that the same one perfectly represents the product/service that the client wants to advertise online?

If the answer to these questions is yes and you are sure you have nothing to recriminate, nothing prevents you from making, against reimbursement, a second graphic draft. Careful not to make the same mistake twice, you’d lose the client and the credibility.

If instead, you think you have worked a little bit superficially maybe, without paying the necessary attention to the requirements and needs of your client, maybe you should admit to having worked amateurishly and improperly. And as a consequence you should assume all responsibility, even if this means a further loss of time and work.

Modifications, modifications, modifications. And again modifications.

Like I said, each contract foresees that the client might ask for some modifications on the design, in order to obtain the final version of  the project. Attention, however: some, not indefinitely.

While submitting the draft, tell the client he can keep it for some days, in order to evaluate it and establish the eventual corrections to be made. Make sure that, once made the variations, the further modifications that will arise in another instance can be calculated separately: in this way you will be protected and won’t be obliged to make modification after modification each time that your client, maybe of a flighty temperament, will change his mind on the draft that was previously agreed on.


We have brought some examples of ‘disputes’ that might arise when we work with a client one on one. What objections have you received during your career and what kind of solutions have you adopted? Have you ever had to deal with a similar situation to those proposed in this article? If yes, how have you reacted? Let’s compare!


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The Author

Web designer, has been working in the field of graphics and web development for six years and at the moment besides collaborating with a web agency successfully manages her freelance activity under the name of mascara design. Like many freelancers she is used to handling more roles, ranging from paper graphics to the development of html and css codes; nonetheless this passion of hers remains, always and however, web graphics.

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