Episode #133
Saying No

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What happens when you say no to clients more often?

Music and links from this episode

  1. Paul Boag’s great article on Shopify
  2. Melancholic Ending by Soft and Furious
  3. Heavy as a Red Snow by Soft and Furious
  4. The Secret by Soft and Furious
  5. Monster by Soft and Furious

Line-by-line notes

  1. Yesterday I spoke about saying yes
  2. And what that means in design projects
  3. Saying yes too much can devalue a project
  4. And devalue you as a designer to a client
  5. It gets you known as a yes person
  6. And somebody who is just a conduit to achieve somebody else’s design vision
  7. Today is all about saying no
  8. What happens when you say no to clients more often?
  9. This is AADA, and I’m Craig Burgess
  10. MUSIC
  11. Let’s lay the scene out here first
  12. Let’s do something comparatively easy here
  13. You’re creating a new logo for a client
  14. Not even a brand, you’re just designing a new logo
  15. You’ve gone back and forth on this project lots of times already
  16. At the clients request, you’ve changed the colours
  17. You’ve changed the typefaces
  18. You’ve even made amends to the original icon you made
  19. You’ve reached breaking point
  20. And the time has come to say a word you didn’t think you’d say
  21. You’re going to tell your client no
  22. You’ll say something like:
  23. No, Mr Client, I won’t do that.
  24. You’ll continue with:
  25. If I make those changes, the logo I’m making for you will be significantly worse
  26. You might even really say no properly:
  27. In this instance, my professional opinion is that we should make those requested changes
  28. And you know what?
  29. None of this will work
  30. Saying no here will go straight over your clients head
  31. They might not say it to you, but they’ll claim you’re awkward
  32. They’ll just say something like
  33. I respect your honesty, but do it anyway so I can see what it looks like
  34. Now the problem here is threefold
  35. 1) You’ve left it too late in the day to start saying no
  36. 2) you never set up boundaries with your client of their role and what that looks like
  37. and 3) you didn’t involve them in the project
  38. So how can we say no to a client and still be respected and listened to?
  39. We need to do number 2 first:
  40. Set boundaries
  41. We expect our clients—
  42. Usually people who have never bought design before
  43. Never fed back on design before
  44. And never commented on design projects before
  45. —To comment effectively on our design projects
  46. Then we get angry and confused when they don’t know how to provide feedback correctly
  47. So how do we let our clients know how to provide feedback correctly?
  48. We tell them how to provide feedback correctly
  49. We explain to them that their role is to ensure the designs we provide meets their business goals and the needs for their target audience and users
  50. If the work we do doesn’t meet that in some way, they tell us the problem there
  51. As Paul Boag puts it in his great article on Shopify (link in my show notes for this episode) Their job is to identify problems, and the role of the designer is to find solutions
  52. They tell us a problem, and we find a solution
  53. The client shouldn’t be suggesting solutions, because that isn’t their expertise. That’s your expertise.
  54. When everybody sticks to what they’re good at, everybody is happy and the best product is produced.
  55. Then you need to do number 3
  56. Involve a client in a project from the very beginning
  57. This means having sessions with our clients
  58. Not just saying we’re the expert, and you have no opinion of value
  59. You involve them in ideas sessions
  60. Value you their opinions
  61. Because nobody knows their industry better than they do
  62. Finally, number 1.
  63. You’ve left it too late to say no
  64. We’re all guilty of this sometimes.
  65. Projects go wrong early on, and the tone and power of the client/designer relationship has been skewed
  66. If we say yes too many times early on without setting up the boundaries of the relationship
  67. We’re knackered
  68. It’s too late to say no, and there’s precious few ways to recover that
  69. You either have a serious sit down with your client and explain the issues
  70. Or you just carry on and just put up with it.
  71. I know what you’re thinking
  72. This all sounds great
  73. But in the real world, other things happen
  74. You’ve got to deal with personalities
  75. And you’ve got to deal with people who actively seek out to sabotage your work
  76. Or who think they’re a designer
  77. There’s not much you can do with people like that
  78. If you find you’ve set up everything properly
  79. And you still find your opinion not being respected and you can’t say no
  80. You’ve got to seriously consider binning the relationship
  81. MUSIC
  82. This was AADA and I’m Craig Burgess
  83. Music featured in this episode was all from Soft and Furious’ new album, The Main I’m Not
    1. Melancholic Ending by Soft and Furious
    2. Heavy as a Red Snow by Soft and Furious
    3. The Secret by Soft and Furious
    4. Monster by Soft and Furious
  84. For a line by line rundown of this episode… /ep133
  85. If you want more updates about my podcast, follow me on Twitter at craigburgess
  86. I’m back tomorrow

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