It’s every designer’s nightmare: you spend ages on a design, getting all the details just so, send a proof to your client… and then they tell you they hate it!
It’s absolutely devastating and an awful situation to find yourself in.
What do you do?
Firstly, try not to panic, and this applies to both you and your client – they’ll probably be feeling awful too.
Remember that design is subjective and not everyone shares the same taste. It’s ok to have different opinions.
It’s also ok if the first proof isn’t perfect; in fact it’s pretty normal. It’s rare for the client to see an initial design and not want to make any changes to it. That’s why we usually allow for a couple of rounds of revisions within each project’s scope and budget.
You and your client both need to make sure to stay professional: dealing with this might make one or both of you uncomfortable but there’s no need for the situation to become confrontational. Remember, it’s the design and project goals you should be focusing on not one another’s tastes, abilities or personalities!
Talk it through
It’s important to talk through the design thoroughly to find out what’s gone wrong. Ask your client to explain exactly why they don’t like it.
If they offer something vague like “I just don’t like it”, ask them specific questions, for example, “what do you think of the fonts?” Go over the colours, images, layout, copy and every other aspect you can think of. You might even find that it’s not as bad as it first seemed. Your client might not hate the whole design, just a particular font or colour.
Make a plan
Going over the design like this will let you create a plan for moving forwards – assuming you both want to, of course. If you have both stayed professional there’s no reason why you shouldn’t turn things around, make the changes you’ve discussed and successfully complete the project.
But if it’s become clear that you can’t work well together it might be best if you both agree to end the project there and walk away.
If a client tells you they hate your design it’s a complete nightmare – for both of you. But don’t crawl into a corner, sobbing uncontrollably and convinced that you’re a terrible designer! (You’re not by the way!) Take time to talk it over calmly and professionally and you’ll probably find it’s not as bad as you think.
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