Once you have your creative direction defined with your mood board and everyone involved in the project agrees, the last thing you want is for either sides to lose sight of that direction. That can easily happen since we all have different taste, differing concepts of the same things, but most importantly we are all subject of changing our mind. For that reason I place (over) communication in the top three of key elements in the design process. The prefix ‘over’ usually carries a negative connotation. Any notion following it takes on a non desirable baggage. Not today! Today ‘over’ is good, ‘over’ is encouraged.
The issue isn’t with the possibility of differing opinions arising, it is with the lack of opinions expressed. What happens is that sometimes the client doesn’t dare question the designer creative choices or voice their opinion if they feel like the direction isn’t quite on track. Or on the other end, us designers sometimes don’t express it if we don’t fully grasp what the client is picturing and keep going with what we think they are expecting. That dynamic can quickly cause frustrations on both sides, that is why communication and even better over communication is invaluable.
Don’t get me wrong you can OVER communicate. For instance it gets a bit challenging when some clients seem to want to have a meeting just to agree that we all agree on our emailed agreements. A bit loopy, right?! And we do have said meeting and we do all agree, and they’re happy. In those cases yes it might seem useless but it reassures the client and puts them at peace.
Here are some tips I personally follow and have experienced being helpful with keeping that (over) communication flow going in any project:
– HAVE FREQUENT CHECK-INS
After each steps of the process check-in and make sure everybody still has a clear vision of where you’re headed. This could vary with different clients. Some won’t need many check-ins while others will need the line of communication to be constantly open and will need more reassuring. Make sure they know they can always check-in with you as well.
– SET CLEAR PROCESSES AND TIMELINES
Having a clear process and set timelines is important for the designer for their sanity but also for their relationship and communication with their client. It allows the client to know when to speak up, to know what’s coming up and what’s the next step. That knowledge and clarity creates a favorable and comfortable environment for both to express their ideas and voice their remarks.
– MAKE THE CLIENT FEEL INCLUDED
I have found that if the client has been part of the creative process all along they won’t feel let down in the case of the result not matching exactly their expectations. They won’t feel ‘creatively betrayed’ in a way. Is it also our job as the designers to keep reeling them in and making sure they feel involved in the creative process.
In conclusion I have one master rule which I strive to follow, I never want any of my clients to walk away feeling as if I didn’t give it my all, even if we ended up not being a good match. Over communicating guarantees that the client feels that I care and am interested in their project all through the creative process. Not communicating enough is always – ALWAYS – detrimental to a creative project. Ideas build upon each other to create something that wouldn’t have had happened otherwise.
REVERIE MINGLES: DO YOU HAVE A MASTER RULE WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNICATION IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?