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Dealing with graphic design clients can be a tricky business if you are meeting them for the first time. It could be even more cumbersome if they are unfamiliar with the design process. However, nothing compares to the hassle a clients puts you through if he is unorganized and/or unprepared.

Here are some key strategies I use with my own clients to bring them on track.


• Assess The Clients

Clients are supposed to be the focal point of a graphic design business.  Before accepting a project, you need to assess how well you two can understand each other’s work.

Just like you need to dig details of their business to provide them accurate results, they also need to invest some time in understanding how you (a graphic designer) would be able achieve that.

Unfortunately, a designer would come across innumerable clients who are either indifferent to the design process or too disorderly to find time for it.

Experience teaches valuable lessons, and with time, you must learn what type of clients you must avoid. Unless you have what it takes to tackle them, you must steer clear of them.

There are some very distinctive client personalities. You should know what you are dealing with before getting into a contract with them. Sometimes you need to go with the gut feeling that tells you how it’s all going to end up.


• Guide Them About The Design Process

Where some clients seem neglectful of the branding and design process, others simply need a little guidance from their designer, and, if they fail to understand the technicality of a graphic designer’s craft, they take a leap of faith and let them do, what they do best.

With such clients, you need to become the educator. You need to help them understand the requirements of a design project and what you need from them in order to make it a success.

Being disorderly doesn’t always mean they wouldn’t cooperate with you. You need to tell them the design elements that affect the feel of their website and how the audience views it.

You can also take advantage of this opportunity and familiarize them with other areas of branding such as business cards, brochures, or even social media marketing.


• Send Polite Reminders

Mostly your unorganized clients will be willing to do their part, but simply unable to do it because of their unsystematic life/workstyle.

To help them act upon their intentions, you need to send them polite reminders about their promised input prior to any meeting or deadline.

For example, if a client promised to send you files on Monday, you should send him a civil yet clear-cut message on Friday reminding of the things he promised and what consequences he would have to face if he failed to deliver them.


• Pay Attention To The Contract

Contract is something you should always take care of. In order to avoid being bullied by the clients, you need to get professionally organized yourself. A graphic designer must not take all clients as equally naïve and innocent. He should be prepared to meet any eventuality and the first step towards achieving that is the preparation of an unambiguous contract.

There are clients who deceive the graphic designers, not realizing that they are losing their own credibility in the process. Their type soon becomes an unwelcome phenomenon in the design community.

For the unorganized clients, you need to be specific about the input required from them and how its unavailability may affect the final result.


• Caring Is Sharing!

Have you encountered any clients that drove you nuts with their immature or unorganized behavior? If yes, share you experience with the rest of us. You might just save another person from learning it the hard way.


  1. DesignFacet On November 8th, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Asking a lot of questions at the beginning of the project and also meeting the client in person is a good way to figure if your a good match.

  1. Lee On November 8th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    This is a great article. I’ve encountered clients such as this many times in my career. There are those who try to manipulate you to their advantage, and some who simply don’t appreciate your time and effort you put into your work. There’s even one client I encountered who have crossed the line and try to kill my freelance career. It’s important that you set your boundaries when dealing with clients. If they are someone whom you find it difficult to reason with, then perhaps saying ‘NO’ is the best option.

  1. darcy hubbert On November 12th, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Unorganized clients seem to be a headache for graphic designers. But this article helps much! Thanks for sharing your noble ideas and brilliant thoughts!

  1. Em | 48 Hour Print On November 14th, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I think the best way to get a client on track with the project you’re working on is getting him involved in the design process. I agree with you; that being the designer you carry the burden of educating or teaching your client about the dynamics of your project and design in general, as it allows both parties to grow and foster a professional relationship.

    This is a great article for starting out freelance graphic designers.

  1. Elmor Go | 48 Hour Print On November 15th, 2012 at 2:18 am

    “Mostly your unorganized clients will be willing to do their part, but simply unable to do it because of their unsystematic life/workstyle.” This hit me real hard as I was reading this! LOL However, there is truth in this. And I will greatly appreciate a designer who would remind me politely remind me of what I need to do from time to time. or when needed. Thanks for posting!

  1. Amy Doan On November 15th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I realized that I need to set up a quick and simple questionnaire that my clients can fill out to get all the basic details taken care of because most of the time clients don’t realize what they need to provide you with. This article was very helpful and polite reminders are a great idea.

  1. Charlie B. Johnson On November 20th, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Dear Lee,
    As a professional graphic designer, the sooner you learn how best to draw a line between yourself and the client; the better. One should never hesitate when it comes to taking a firm stand for the sake of his personal and professional integrity. I hope you get out of this unharmed. If necessary, you should consider taking legal assistance.

    Dear Elmor Go,
    A client’s timely input saves him and his designer a lot of trouble, especially, when they are both busy professionals. But a graphic designer should understand that his clients come in all types and personalities and are often in need of reminders to stay on track for the design project. If he wants to get a job well done, he must learn to manage deadlines even for his clients sometimes.

  1. Ben Stokes On November 20th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Patience is a great virtue with this type of client, it may be helpful to lay some ground rules before any work is started. This will help to organise the organised person in question, a strong list of aims and objectives and a step by step process of what is expected of the project and deadlines to adhere to.

    Once this has all been explained in person you should hopefully iron out any bad organisation.

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