What is the cost of compromising on good design?

Let’s face it, there are times when designers and their clients don’t see eye to eye over a project. When all else fails a designer may comply with client requests which are at odds with their own professional judgment, simply to make the client happy. But is this an ideal solution in the long run?

Collaboration can be a good thing

Some clients will have firm ideas on a design feature they want included in a project: anything from a particular colour to a complex layout. This can lead the way to a collaborative process between designer and client: a positive and constructive exchange of ideas.

However, most designers have also experienced requests for work which don’t represent good design practice. Common examples include changing the size of text or other elements of the design; filling up all of the white space; unattractive colour combinations; and copying other designs. It’s important to talk to the client about their request and provide some guidance about what will and won’t work for their design project.

What if the client disagrees?

If a disagreement brews, it can be very tempting to accede to what the client wants, in order to reach a resolution. This is understandable: it’s very tricky to successfully handle conflict with someone who’s doing business with you. But there may be a catch.

What if the client later realises (or has pointed out to them by someone else) that the design features they insisted upon are not as good as they initially thought? Will they come back to you acknowledging your previous advice and seeking to amend the design? In some cases, maybe. But the client may instead blame you for the less than stellar work, in which case you’re unlikely to get repeat business from them. At first glance this may seem like a good thing, but an unhappy former client has the potential to negatively impact your word-of-mouth client leads in the future.

Believe in what you do

It’s no good for your morale to commit to work you’re not happy with. On the other hand, when you take the time to stand up for good design practices, you present yourself as a professional operator whose expertise represents value for the client.

What do you think? Should designers go with what makes their clients happy, even if the final product is second-rate?

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