Why designers should never have the final say


Remember those arguments you’ve had with your siblings or significant other where you are both just bickering back and forth until someone finally gets the last word in?  Sometimes, design projects can get that way.  Usually someone will pull rank and make a final call but in a design project I’ll explain why the designer should almost never have the final say.

It’s good to be reminded of objectives

It’s rare, but designers can lose track of the goals or intentions of the project.  Especially if there are too many specifications — your designer may feel like they are walking on eggshells and are too busy trying not to do the wrong thing instead of striving to meet the project objectives.  If the objectives are not simplified and clarified early enough, the client will have to step in and direct changes to a near final product.  Not ideal, but likely to be necessary.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go

As with any profession, when you put your heart into a project you may become emotionally attached to it.  Getting unnecessarily defensive is a common outcome on both sides of the client-designer relationship.  Often it’s a good idea for the designer to take a step back and be a little introspective to prevent this from happening.  Clients need to remind the designer that while the designer is the expert in their field, the client still needs a project that will fulfill all the business needs they identified and that will be consist with their brand and organizational culture.

Special considerations

Sometimes design projects may have unique circumstances that may or may not be confidential/secret. This may produce requirements that are non-negotiable, but clients should try to explain to the designer why it is they need this or they need that.  Hopefully, this will give the designer an opportunity to find a more suitable solution.  The more the client can explain their requirements, the closer the designer will be able to match the client’s vision for the product.  Clients should also be sure to make the designer aware of any re-branding initiatives that exist or any desires to tweak the brand’s image.  The more communication clients have with their designer, the happier both will be with the final product.

By no means am I trying to push the balance of creative control to the client.  Both sides have to make very important decisions in the design process.  Think of “the final say” as a pendulum of control that swings from one side to the other (designer to client).  If both designers and clients work well together the outcome will be a favourable one for all.  While “the final say” can be an intimidating decision, the anxiety of making  that decision can be mitigated through thorough communication, clear specifications and objectives, and focusing on the big picture.

What are some projects that you have found hard to let go of?

Photo by Norman Lear Center

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