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Be a Driver, Not a Screwdriver



Sometimes it seems people don’t know what designers are born to do. 

Youre a creative. Youre more than a tool trained to brings clients ideas to life. Youre a thinking mind. Your ideas and experience are just as valuable as your skill set. Couple this with clients who dont know what they want or what solution would work best, and its more important than ever for you to be a driver - rather than just another screwdriver.

Nail it Down

You wouldnt question a surgeon - you wouldnt say Hey, I know youre about to operate on me, but dont 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 dont believe in what you do, youll 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 youd hear at a yoga class, but its an important point to remember. Work with integrity in every aspect. Do your homework. Understand your field. Know your client. Dont take shortcuts. Smile, be confident and dont give your client a reason to doubt you.

Theres no Reason to get Unhinged

Theres nothing worse than spending the last few hours before a deadline scrambling to get it all done, and then delivering something youre 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.

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.

Dont Screw it up

Being a driver doesnt 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: dont run over your client. If you are asked to do something you truly dont 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, dont 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 youve got a problem.