Real Talk Time: Clients Suck 🙂 😕
So, I can’t launch you into the real world (TM) as information designers without letting you in on a little secret every one of us who has worked with clients for years knows: they suck. They don’t mean to, but they do. Largely this is because they don’t know what they want until they see it. So there’s a fair amount of stumbling around in the dark.
This process is only slightly exaggerated by this Oatmeal comic. Go read it: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell. I’ll wait.
In case you didn’t notice, those little asterisks indicate that this is based on real. clients. the. creator. of. the. Oatmeal. has. had. Yeah.
To sum up the problem with clients, it’s this:
- They do not know what they want
- They expect you, the designer, to tell them what they want
- You cannot tell them what they want; they won’t believe you
- You must show them something that you can discuss
- This something must slowly iterate into the thing they want
- Sometimes this process is next to impossible because the client doesn’t understand best practices
- Successful projects get done because the client eventually suspends their disbelief enough to let the project get done
To Make Clients Suck Less: Prototype Early and Often
In order to make this process go as smoothly as possible (*whispers: it never willlll), you need to show the principles you’re talking about in increasingly high-fidelity prototypes. The final “prototype” will be the thing that gets launched. The only difference between a prototype and a product is that the former has been approved for delivery 😉
Your First Prototype Is Simply Chunking Information
The biggest squabbles I’ve had with clients involves what I’ve started calling in my advancing years (based on someone I can’t remember): chunking information. Basically, all information is organized within an information product by groupings. Big/small. Left/right. Border/no border. Focal point/background. These are all chunks of information.
So, the most important thing your current prototype should do is show how information will be chunked. As you revise your prototypes for Wednesday, think about the following:
- Can you logically explain why all information is where you’ve put it in the prototype?
- Are there areas that you’re not sure about?
- Are there any radical departures that the client just wouldn’t understand?
- Are all your *must-have* bases covered (i.e., the worst thing about your information product is X, so I’m doing Y to fix that)?
These are the things I want you to focus on for this module.
Why, you may ask? Because I’m going to play the role of a bad client when I review your prototypes, lololol. I’m going to act like a client who doesn’t like what they see… so you have that experience.
You will also learn from this that all the design choices you’ve made including: font, color, proximity, alignment, even your precious content chunks, have to be negotiated carefully with the client.
So, I’ll be acting like clients have acted towards me in the 10+ years I’ve been working with them. But from this, you’ll learn how to adapt your design to the needs of another human being, which is probably one of the most important things I can teach you in this class.
To Complete This Project (Suggested Workflow)
5) 3/29/21 by Midnight ET >>
Revise all your documents and hand them in. The point of receiving feedback from your peers, and also from myself, is to help you improve your writing. This process will be negated if the draft you submit to the course website is the same as the draft you hand in as your final. Revise, revise, revise.