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1.27.2022

3 min read

5 tips you can implement right now to make client relationships a breeze

Building trust, setting boundaries, allowing for flexibility: the keys to a great client relationship might be more familiar than you think.

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Illustration by Anita Goldstein.

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There’s so much more to working with clients than getting a brief and giving the work back in return.


The strongest client-designer relationships require interpersonal skills you need in just about any other relationship: building trust, setting boundaries, allowing for flexibility, and, when a conflict arises, working together to get to the heart of the issue.


It’s okay for the design process to be a little messy. But why not add a little structure to the creative chaos? Instituting these best practices will help you establish a smooth process both you and the client can be happy with.



1. Be honest


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Be upfront about your expectations—and if the project is stuck in a feedback loop, ask your client to be specific and transparent about their concerns.

This is true for all relationships, personal and professional. Right from the get-go, it’s important that both yourself and your clients can be upfront about project expectations.


It is never enjoyable to hear, but great clients are also honest when something isn’t working. This kind of direct, honest feedback can save hours of unnecessary back and forth. We need to guide clients to this level of transparency and trust. Sometimes, wishy-washy feedback comes from a misunderstanding about when specific elements of a project are worked on.


Tips:

  • Before starting a project, take a client through your working process so they know what to expect and at what phase to expect it.


  • If the project is stuck in a feedback loop, ask your client to be specific and transparent about their concerns.



2. Get to the heart of the problem


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If your client keeps bringing solutions of their own to the table, refocus the process by returning to the business problem laid out the in the brief. Remember you're a strategist, too.


To find the right design solution, you—and the client—have to understand what you’re actually solving for. What are their business goals? Which part of their business is not performing how they’d like? What do they want to change, and why?