Design Rules to Live By #10

This is the final post in the “Design Rules to Live By” series and we will not only discuss the 10th design rule we will recap and list the other rules.

So I was watching MadMen (i heart this show) this last week and there is a scene where they are in a client meeting and the commercial producer has poured himself into creating the exact commercial that the soda company has requested. When the client watches the video they are not satisfied, and actually call the finished project a failure. Don Draper reminds that client that the finished product is exactly what they asked for, and as a result the client welcomes the failure as their own.

I am sure all of us have felt that we were really working towards exactly what the client asked for, and we have put our heart into it only to have the client, say that they are unsatisfied with the final product… or that you were never on the right track to begin with. This can be very disheartening, and frustrating, and so this weeks design rule is:

Keep a record of client interaction, to protect your client and yourself.

Keeping a record of client meetings, emails, and other interaction is a great tool/resource to refer back to when there are questions about the scope, deadline, and vision of the project from the clients angle. It can also be very useful to make sure that scope creep and project goals are kept in check.

This is something that I have had to recently deal with, and having a record of email conversations proved very helpful.

What have you found to be useful in keeping records of conversations? How have you dealt with similar situations as the once above?

Wrapping Up

this wraps up the “Design Rules to Live By” series you can read the other rules here

Hopefully these ten talking points can not only help us as designers to improve our process, and the services we offer, but also give us talking points to discuss with other designers. I truly believe that having these discussions will help us think through different ways to challenge ourselves as designers especially as we hear and take in other designer’s perspectives.

07. September 2009 by Aaron Irizarry
Categories: Design Rules | Tags: , , , , | 11 comments

Comments (11)

  1. Always love your design rules to live by Aaron! Good topic to end on, as you know I love me some Mad Men too!

    :) Christina

  2. I regularly keep a record, of course. Unfortunately, a record does not always suffice. In one case, I gave the client “suggestive tickles” all along the way, as to what might work best, but then, followed the client’s orders to the letter. The client went so far, even, as to demand copying and pasting text rather than minor editing for punctuation/spelling errors.

    This I did. I adhered to the client’s wishes to the nth degree. After much feedback from the client’s customers/users (some of it quite nasty) the client griped to me. I presented the records I had kept. The client was very disturbed that I would demonstrate such mistrust as to need to keep a record of our transactions.

  3. Keeping record is very important. I keep every email wether it be my inhouse job or clients, for record even if they are a few words. Those few words can mean something big when you need to refer back to them.

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  6. It’ alway a good idea to keep some sort of record – whatever works best for you. What might be difficult is how to handle the situation if / when something some sort of discrepancy arises between you and the client.

    Speaking from (bad) experiences, you have to be diplomatic and try to see both sides of the story. If you reach for the evidence (your paperwork) to soon, you could come across as defensive or bitchy. Talk it out and be open.

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  8. Your series was amazing Aaron, and this last post was excellent and well thought out. I think this particular rule demonstrates something all designers go through in their career and its not just for freelancers dealing with clients. I went through this when I worked at an IT firm as the only designer as well. I would do exactly what someone in marketing or even another department head would ask exactly the way the asked to have it done, and then they would complain about the results.
    Keeping documentation to show my supervisor nd the CMO kep me from looking inept or incompetent, especially being one of the youngest peple working there.
    This blog is great because people reading it won’t have to learn things like this the hard way. kudos.

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  10. Your series was mind blowing. Love the design rules.
    Its really helpful. Many thanks,…

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