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3 posts from April 2013

"How To Manage Client Feedback" on FastCoDesign

How to Manage Client Feedback

Clients deliver feedback on everything we create for them: proposals, deliverables, project schedules, email communication styles, what we’ve worn to a meeting with their CEO, and so forth. Soliciting and receiving feedback from clients is a crucial part of any ongoing collaboration between a client and a designer. To quote Robert Allen, “There is no failure. Only feedback.”

The inability to manage client feedback causes your design work to suffer. Here are some ways to work with feedback that will help keep your design projects running smoothly, while reducing the tension that poorly considered feedback can cause in a client relationship.

Read this excerpt from Success by Design at FastCoDesign.

What Aspiring Designers Need to Know About Strategy

Segmentation strategy... for Cute Overload

This is an exclusive excerpt from my new book, Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers, which was recently released by HOW.

As I read through his resume, the designer stared at me expectantly. He had a wealth of great design projects under his belt. He had been seeking out personal projects to build out his portfolio. He had internships with sterling businesses and design studios. But there was one thing that leapt out at me from the list of core skills he’d listed at the top of his resume: strategy.

Not brand strategy, content strategy, interactive strategy, media strategy, or the MBA-land of business strategy. Just plain ‘ol strategy.

This has been happening more and more frequently, for a few reasons. In the process of providing strong service to our clients, we increase the likelihood of becoming a strategic partner. We finally have a seat at the table when the client is talking strategy—and we can offer a range of strategic services that verge outside what may be considered a designer’s core area of expertise. This is a good thing. With the ongoing expansion of design’s role in business, today’s designers are helping to solve problems that transcend mere decoration and instead impact the core functions of a client’s business.

But in our haste to be strategic partners, I’ve discovered that many designers don’t fully grasp how strategic services fit into their client offerings. And when I ask designers out of sheer curiosity how they’re functioning as strategists—what experiences they directly bring to bear on being strategists rather than having a strategic orientation—they can’t easily answer the question.

If you’re going to run a design-led business, it’s inevitable that you will need to talk strategy with your clients. So let’s explore the types of strategies you might create as a design businessperson, as well as how they may support the efforts of your clients. It’s my hope that this information will open up some new paths for you to explore in your career as a designer.

Read the whole piece on frog's Design Mind.

Design Business by the Numbers: One-Percent Prepayment Discounts


This is a post in an occasional series I'll be running on ChangeOrder about the benchmarks that design businesses use to help maintain their long-term success. These benchmarks are drawn from the research that I conducted when writing Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers.

In my previous post, I wrote about how it's important to encourage new clients to pay you in advance of providing design services. Many designers and studio owners struggle to put this advice into practice, as their clients often have their own accounting and bookkeeping policies that conflict with paying for services in advance of their completion.

So, how do you bend these policies in your favor? A number of studio owners shared with me the following line of text that they had included in the estimates and invoices they'd provided to their clients: "Client shall receive an % discount if payment is received in advance of date."

That's right. Many companies have policies that require advance payment of an invoice if there's a discount. It doesn't have to be a huge discount, too—sometimes as little as one to two percent off a large-ticket project can be enough to encourage advance payment. (Though I've seen it at anywhere from 2.5% to 5% in previous agencies I've worked at.)

Highlighting this clause during contract negotiations will help you, as long as you preserve your profit margin for the project if the discount is exercised.

Other posts in this series include: