Things that designers do to annoy clients

The relationship between designers and clients is a delicate one, which sometimes results in frustrating situations for both parties. I’ve posted a lot on the side of the designer, like things clients say when wanting cheaper work or the funny little lies that designers tell their clients.

While it’s common for designers to complain about how difficult clients annoy them, designers are also guilty of doing things that annoy their clients. Lets highlight seven things designers do that irritate clients:

Under-selling yourself

As designers we sometimes assume that a project will be easy and quote a low figure for our time. But when issues start to crop up, it can quickly lead to resentment for working cheap.

Revealing how much you usually charge

If you’ve undersold yourself, it can be tempting to inform clients just how much you usually charge – especially if extra changes and requests are made. It’s an unprofessional and somewhat amateur move as a designer. You need to remember that you’re expected to produce solid work and be a good working partner. The fact that you’re charging less than you should – by your own choice – doesn’t change this expectation.

Thinking you know the client better than they do

Whenever starting a new project, it’s important for designers to learn about their clients and what they’re all about. Problems begin to arise when we start to tell the client who they are or who we think they should be, when our only job to present them to the world.

Not putting anything in writing

Annoying clients by not putting anything in writing

Don’t become too focused on the dream of the project. The worst thing you can do is not formalizing your commitment through a contract; instead allowing your fantasy that everything will just fall into place take over. If the scope of the project isn’t well defined, there usually comes a point when you no longer feel obligated to continue, but your client wants more. “Just try this one more thing. What about this colour?” Your dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare, especially when you don’t think you’re being compensated fairly but have no documentation to support that thought.

Slipping into designer-talk

When talking about work, it’s easy to slip into discussing things like composition, spacing, hierarchy or other design terms. You don’t have to dumb down your conversations; simply focus on the right things when discussing work with clients. This can annoy them too. Clients don’t care about that anyway; they’re only concerned about how the work achieves their goals, represents them honestly, and presents their ideas clearly.

Not realizing the client is almost always right

One thing always preached to younger designers or students is “don’t show anything you don’t believe in.” If you only have 3 solid logo directions, then only show 3. But of course that’s easier said than done, especially when you’ve run dry and feel pressure to deliver, or when a client has requested something that you know will not work.

The cliché about clients always picking your least favourite option holds true surprisingly often. To then tell them that the one they’ve chosen isn’t valid is extremely irritating to clients. “Then why’d you show it to me?” The best case scenario here is that you spend several more hours explaining why another mark is more effective

Late work and or poor quality

Poor quality, late work

This may sounds like an obvious point, but the reasons for this vary widely. Of course procrastination can lead to late work. Of course over-booking yourself can result in spreading yourself too thin. And both translate directly to not spending enough time to produce quality work. But the seemingly harmless approach of working within loose deadlines (or none at all) can have even worse results and annoy clients. What the client assumes and what you may assume are usually very different things. So if your client assumes a month is plenty of time to produce a brochure, and their big event arrives with your work incomplete, your relaxed working relationship will shatter pretty quickly.


In an ideal world, the designer/client relationship shouldn’t be so contentious, but the reality is that money, time, and reputations are at stake. It’s the differing personalities that make for unique client-to-creative partnerships. Clashes will happen from time-to-time and you may annoy clients, but with a little perspective, and the realization that the things we do ourselves can be pretty frustrating, problems can be kept at a minimum. Thus leaving both client and designer happy.

Images: http://www.123rf.com

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