The Client is Always Right

The client is always right The client is always right. The client is always right. The client is always right. The client is always right. If I had a chalk board I would write this 500 times like Sister Loretta Joesph would have us do in the fifth grade if we got caught doing something wrong. In my case it is about getting frustrated with the dance that we do as designers, working with what the client wants and what they “should” do. Of course the problem is the “should” is always from our perspective. And I do have to admit that , Gasp….I am not always right.

Usually when someone comes to me whether for a website or a kitchen design they have sought my expertise as a designer with a lot of experience that they like my work. I really do enjoy the co-creative work and value input from colleagues and clients. Often the result is much better than it would have been if I had not had to think out why I am doing this or that and then make adjustments and tweaks. Even still there often comes a point where something that they want is just wrong.

A kitchen design example is when I was doing the kitchen of a wonderful women who has an amazing collection of folk art. She lived in an old house with lots of wood, heart pine floors wooden built-ins and dark stained wood trim. It was a lovely house and the kitchen needed to look like it had been there for years. Her folk art was very colorful and due to all of the wood the cabinets and the Island needed to be painted wood. We had decided on a yellow primitive looking Island with a white marble top and one red wall with shelves for her folk art pottery, painted the vanilla color of her walls. In this scenario with all of the orangey pine wood everywhere, the only color base cabinets along the walls could be was bluey green gray or greeney blue gray.

This seemed to make sense to my client at first but then she got worried and wanted the cabinets to be gray so there wasn’t too much going on. I told her that there was already so much going on and that the bluey gray green would calm it down and read neutral. She was nervous about it and we went around and around on what other colors it could be. But I showed her that we were basically painted into a corner so to speak since the colors we had chosen left only a narrow path of what the remaining piece of the design could be. And then she finally agreed when I said after all they are being handpainted and if you hate it we will know and we can change the paint.

Well it turned out beautifully. The greened blue gray cabinets have a soft black soap stone countertop with a green/gray veins of color the same shade as the base cabinets. the room looks spectacular and the colors all work together like a team. My client loves it. Now my client has excellent taste and her home was beautiful to start with. But she came to me because she knew her kitchen which was part of the great room with dining and living room connected, needed to have that something special she was not going to get on her own or by going to the average traditional kitchen designer. So she needed my help to go that little extra way that made her kitchen spectacular.

But is is hard on me when I have to take a stand and someone is fighting me about something that I feel strongly about. I wonder why they needed me in the first place if they weren’t going to take my advise. But if I can’t come up with a compromise I bite my tongue and do what they have asked. But I really don’t think they are right.

In logo and web design the same thing happens. I just have to get my ego out of the way and realize it is a JOB. I guess that is what most people do. I feel that people come to me because I can give them more than that, so it is very frustrating to not be able to do my best for them. Oh well. The client is always right. The client is always right. The client is always right……..And sometimes, as my daughter Amanda has reminded me of recently, I am not always right.

One thought on “The Client is Always Right

  1. Judi, I love this post. I have had similar experiences in helping customers design invitations (maybe they’ll choose beautiful colors, beautiful paper, beautiful envelope liners and then ruin it with a hideous font). You are so right. It is best for us professionals to leave our egos out of it and let them have what they want!

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