The Customer is Always Right, Right?

We’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is always right”, and in most cases it’s very true. Short of the customer jumping up on the shop counter and screaming in your face, you’ve pretty much got to fulfil their every desire – regardless of how unreasonable that desire may be.

In design, it’s a bit different.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we always have to respect the client’s opinion. But, unlike retail and similar customer-facing professions, we don’t always have to agree.

Imagine you worked in a clothes shop. A customer is trying on an outfit, and they think they look absolutely fantastic. The customer then gleefully asks for your opinion and, while the voice in your head is saying “take it off and burn it immediately”, you would always agree with them and tell them they look great.

Now imagine you’re sat in the design studio with a client, and they’re looking over the designs for the business cards you just spent the day designing. In this particular composition you’ve followed the brand guidelines and positioned their company logo in the top right of the card -modestly sized, leaving just the right amount of empty space.

Immediately, the client’s reaction is to have you ‘blow up‘ the logo to fill all of that ‘blank space‘. That voice in your head returns, exclaiming unfiltered rage at the client’s lack of understanding of design and their own brand guidelines. Unlike the customer in the shop, you don’t necessarily have to agree with this opinion.

This would be one of those moments where you need to employ the art of selling your idea with tact. As a designer it’s not just your job to create good design, your job is also to champion your own idea – and this sometimes means politely challenging your client’s opinion and trying to sway them to your point of view.