Creative Trust

no i did not cut my hair at ReVAMP haircare salon
no i did not cut my hair at ReVAMP haircare salon

I recently had a haircut. Guess what, I did not ask the hair dresser for her credentials, neither did I ask for a draft. She did ask me quite a number of clever questions and I trusted her. I treated her as a professional and let her did what she do best. I mean what do I know about cutting hair, all I see is what I can see in the mirror. Most of the time, I don’t even know what I look like from behind. The outcome was fairly good.

That got me thinking. I’m in the creative industry, but there is hardly any trust. Clients insist on credentials, they insist on seeing a draft. And when they see the draft, most of the time they usually have a lot to say and there were even times when some clients dictated how they want like their website to be. They know their business better, that I fully agree, but how could they possibility know web design best practices more then someone who have done websites for more then 10 years?

As a web practitioner, we often make jokes about clients and can so relate with one another on all those hair pulling experiences. There is even a site dedicated to Clients From Hell. But I also question myself. Is it true that most clients are idiots? Do they also have their hair pulling moments about vendors? I did a check… no vendorsfromhell.com and vendorsfromhell.net does not exist. Then again if clients banded together to create such a site, then there is no need for vendors already. har har…

Yes its true, sometimes clients catch the obvious lazy alignment issues, the amateurish design that was done by an inexpensive freelancer and the half baked proposal that was done grudgingly over the weekend. But the more fundamental issue is that sometimes there is a clear lack of business understanding from web design companies. To clients, their website is an asset that not only represents them online, but it may also be there to provide a service or to meet certain business objectives. Looking nice is just a hygiene factor. So the question now is how many web designers actually have good business acumen?

Clients are idiots. Web designers are hopeless. Stalemate!

I think web practitioners need to make the first move. We need to better understand our clients’ business. We need to understand their pain points. We need to understand that it hurts to pay so much money only to get something that might look nice, but does not work. Go try your client’s products. Go experience your client’s services. Go spend a day with your client.

The day we stop thinking our clients are idiots may be the day our clients start treating us as professionals and give us the creative trust we finally deserve.

7 Replies to “Creative Trust”

  1. OMG Nick! I was expecting another whiny designers post, but you hit the nail on the head. I’ve been on both sides of the deal – worked in an agency, upgraded myself to a client and it shifted my perspective completely.

    Designers and IT people assume their clients are stupid, because clients don’t speak the fancy designer lingo, have no idea on software, etc. It’s like they assume everyone is a designer with awesome intuition and taste level, and if they request something that looks plain bad – well, it’s their fault! They are just idiots :|

    But from a client perspective, it’s the designer who is the idiot – ignorant and oblivious towards the business goals, and with no explanation on how the design translates into business goals. Clients don’t understand design, but they understand business. But for some reason, it’s the vendors who expect the clients to bridge the gap. Often designers expect the PMs to provide the explanations to the clients and defend their designs.

    It feels totally different when a designer or a programmer can actually prove he/she understands the business goals and has the solutions to match them. Then they appear as professional, rather than a numb crafter (a role that seems to be all to willingly assumed). Only then can a client trust.

  2. oh… and about that haircut thingy… it’s a hit or miss. My best haircut ever occurred when I mentioned, “I have a dinner function tonight… make it look good”.

    The worst occured when they asked me, “short?” and I said ok

  3. @angmogirl

    Seems like you had really bad experience with designers. This can only mean you have really poor communication skills or extremely poor judgement by engaging some below par agencies.

    Your remarks ‘But from a client perspective, it’s the designer who is the idiot – ignorant and oblivious towards the business goals’ shows what a total ‘idiot’ you are.

    There are tons of designers and agencies who carved successful careers in the business world with their products and works. Not only are they craftsmen of aesthetically pleasing artifacts, they are also the brains behind successful brands.

    Designers and Programmers should understand business goals the same way clients should understand basic design hierarchy and trends.

    And you just gave yourself a tight slap on the face by stating “and if they (clients) request something that looks plain bad”. If you aren’t an idiot, why are you requesting the designer to create something that looks ‘plain bad’ !? Can’t your business goals be achieved by asking for something that looks nicer?

    If you don’t even have that minimum taste level and judgement, I can’t see how you can suceed in the business world.

  4. @angmogirl

    Seriously, after looking at your blog I am totally not surprised at your outburst. A quick glance at your blog categories clearly shows you are neither business or design inclined. Stick to your beauty blogging please. ;)

  5. @Pan, nice blog – friend recommended to check it. Really nice.

    @A designer: Angmoh girl speaks like she knows marketing very well. This is a basic theory from the school book and you are the one who seems not to get it. I agree wit her.

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