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Be a Driver, Not a Screwdriver
Sometimes it seems people don’t know what designers are born to do.
You’re a creative. You’re more than a tool trained to brings clients’ ideas to life. You’re a thinking mind. Your ideas and experience are just as valuable as your skill set. Couple this with clients who don’t know what they want or what solution would work best, and it’s more important than ever for you to be a driver - rather than just another screwdriver.
Nail it Down
You wouldn’t question a surgeon - you wouldn’t say “Hey, I know you’re about to operate on me, but don’t you think this other approach I found on Google last night is better?”. Similarly, a client should choose you trusting that you can deliver. They should know your work, be familiar with your style. So if you want someone to choose you for this reason - to believe in you and your work - make sure you believe in your work. Because if you don’t believe in what you do, you’ll have a hard time staying motivated and producing something you can be proud of. And other people will pick up on that.
Hammer out the Details
First impressions make all the difference and play a big role in whether or not you will be viewed as yet another (talented) creative tool in the shed. If you want to be taken seriously from the get-go, take the time to put together a professional portfolio and design contract.
You know the Drill
Work with integrity. This might sound like something you’d hear at a yoga class, but it’s an important point to remember. Work with integrity in every aspect. Do your homework. Understand your field. Know your client. Don’t take shortcuts. Smile, be confident and don’t give your client a reason to doubt you.
There’s no Reason to get Unhinged
There’s nothing worse than spending the last few hours before a deadline scrambling to get it all done, and then delivering something you’re only half-proud of. Give yourself a little grace period so that if the client decides to cut a timeline short you can still deliver quality. And try not to let yourself be bullied into a timeline that you know realistically cannot be met.
Don’t Screw it up
Being a driver doesn’t mean you have to run over someone. In fact, you try your hardest never to do so. The same goes for being a creative driving force: don’t run over your client. If you are asked to do something you truly don’t think will work - consider it, come up with a better idea, and then gently lead their train of thought. Let your client be a part of the solution instead of a hurdle that needs to be overcome. That said, don’t forget that you are still working for a client. You may not always agree with their choices, but your priority should be to give them what they want and expect. Then, if appropriate, you can suggest alternatives.
Keep it Cutting-Edge
As Professor Wilcox likes to remind us: Make sure all your ideas are top-notch. If you have a weak idea, chances are this is the one the client will go for - and then you’ve got a problem.