The design world to clients must be a complete mystery. Clients know that they need designers, but they aren’t entirely sure what it is designers actually do. Perhaps that is down to the lack of definition in our industry.

One designer is not equal to another. This can break into many categories including talent, skill, ability, experience, artistic talent (some designers can’t even draw) and technical ability.

Clients hire designers based upon the look of their portfolio, a reference or god forbid cost factors. Not because they have found the most talented person to solve their design problem.

So how do we as designers inform our clients whether they have located the right designer for their job? The first thing I recommend is a short questionnaire before the client signs on the dotted line:

a) Have you worked directly with a designer before?

b) What was the project tasked to the designer?

c) To what extent did you work with a designer?

d) Was the project a success?

e) What did you learn from your experience with the designer?

The goal of these questions is to ascertain what your client’s expectation is of a designer, what they understand the role of the designer to be and what their experiences have been with other designers. Armed with this information you can get a clear picture of how your project will shape up with the client, and you can inform the client how you prefer to work, resetting their expectations for you.

This can be very rewarding but a word of advice: Resetting their expectations can set you up to fail in their eyes so make sure you deliver on your promises.

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