Designers: Are you Making These 4 Rookie Design Mistakes?
Let’s hope not. Yes we all want to be creative rockstars. But making rookie mistakes is a really ugly feeling. Even years into the industry I was not immune from being a victim of these transgressions… it’s unbelievable.
Let this article be a warning to all of the graphic designers out there – newbies, veterans, freelancers, as well as those with full time design gigs. These are the top Rookie mistakes I see freelance designers make.
Let’s break it down.
Mistake #1: Asking a Client their Personal Preferences.
I sound like a broken record as I’ve made this point in other posts. But I need to hammer this home, this concept is too important.
Asking a client what THEY want is a mistake. Believe it or not, it’s true!
It does not matter if the client LOVES purple or HATES lavender. It has nothing to do with what their Audience may or may not like.
The personal preferences of the client personally usually have NOTHING to do with their audience. That is why they are coming to you, to cut through the clutter, the bullshit, and create something meaningful and on target.
Are you designing for the client, or are you designing for the clients’ AUDIENCE?
Let me explain. During creative discovery, you need to ask a client for descriptive adjectives that represent their vision of their company. It is your job to translate those this direction into visual branding. Not theirs.
Your responsibility as a designer is to design a logo for their target audience. Otherwise the final product is designed for the client instead of focusing on the target audience. Irrelevant. Ineffective. Insane.
Create relevant work. Work that resonates. Have a point of view. Do not be limited by one set of ideas dictated to you.
Mistake #2: Showing the Client Too Damn Many Options.
Avoid showing ALL of your concepts. It’s that simple. Again, I sound like a broken record as I’ve made this point in other posts. But this is also too important not to repeat.
It’s your job to narrow down the ideas prior to presenting to the client. Self editing prior to presenting to your client is critical. Present no more than 2 or 3 of your best concepts.
Don’t let your ego guide you! This is not about you and how many ideas you can generate.
This is not about you or how many cool sketches you can generate, just get over yourself and be a professional Designer by focusing on your best concepts. You can always go back and share earlier versions if the client is not in love with your first designs. Keep them in your back pocket just in case.
Showing too many ideas has the potential to SLOW the project, making it last 2 to 3 times as long as necessary, cutting your effective hourly rate down the pay of a fast food worker.. Is that what you want smartypants. a never ending project? I didn’t think so.
Mistake #3: Weak or Nonexistent Client Revision Policy.
Learn how to Define the amount of time you’ll actually spend on this design project – limit client revisions to 3 for each deliverable you send them. It’s VERY important to keep costs in check.
This way if you decide to make a 4th ‘quickie’ edit, you’ll be seen as doing them a favor. Bam!! Instant Rockstar status!
Below is sample terminology for you to use.
Client Revision Policy:
“Approvals are needed at certain milestones throughout the life of the project. If the number of substantial client edits exceed 3 revisions, the total estimated hours allotted for each task will increase. This additional time needs to be captured and billed at a $85/hr T&M flat rate (Time & Materials). Typically most design projects do not require more than 3 revisions to finalize. Note: Clients will be notified well in advance before incurring additional fees on open projects.”
Done. Consider your ass covered.
This will discourage clients from asking to make too many changes. It encourages decisiveness on their part, and moves the project toward a faster completion.
Unlimited Design revisions is a recipe for disaster.
I’ve seen this being used by some freelancers. It’s bad for business, it’s bad for the design industry, it indicates your time is NOT valuable to you, and it opens the door for a never-ending nightmare project.
An indecisive client will put you in an early grave. It’s whacked out and it’s an amateur move. Just don’t do it.
Mistake #4: Not including a Kill Fee Provision in your Agreements.
PROTECT YOUR ASS. Include the all important Kill Fee Provision.
This is the clause that was missing from my previous proposals that cost me a $6,000 project. I researched the contract standards on the AIGA website and other resources to craft a very fair clause to protect me if a client decides to kill a project after it has started.
Including a Kill Fee Clause will save you Pain, Anguish, and Loss of Revenue! Trust me on this.
Below is sample terminology for you to use.
Cancelation or Kill Fee Provision:
“Projects that are cancelled by the client for reasons beyond the consultant’s control are subject to fees for the loss of expected revenue. Kill fees never exceed the original agreement amount. Using pricing guidelines from the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) projects killed after the first creative is delivered will be subject to pay 75% of the total contract, and projects killed after v.2 of the creative work is complete are subject to pay 90% of the original agreement. Projects killed after the work is completed are subject to pay 100% of the original agreement. The creative work completed is your property, and source files will be sent upon request. Note: clients will be notified before incurring kill fees on cancelled projects.”
Also, you can download complete Sample Proposal documents, available for Free.
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– Your Creative Junkie