No matter what computer geeks we are, working as software developers and designers, there’s a responsible moment in our work life when we are to use all our communication skills to make the client satisfied with the design for their project. Your design may be perfect, but if the client is far from UX, intuitive interface and end user preference, chances are their opinion on your design is going to conflict yours.
You, as a professional, should not give up on the huge effort you’ve put into that design. Moreover, it’s your moral obligation to help the client make the best possible design and not fake it just because you prefer to avoid conflicts and do everything as told. That project is not only the client’s. It’s your company’s and personally yours just as well which means your reputation and record depend on it! That’s why convincing the client that you are right (as a pro) and he is not (as a person far from IT in most cases) is the right thing to do. The only problem is you can’t address the issue in these exact words and you need to be very delicate.
Consider these 10 tips:
- Talk about users.
Your client is a business-focused person which is no wonder. Instead of rolling your eyes in amazement at how they can’t understand some trivial things (as they seem to you), start from the point of view which is critical to the client – end users. Once it’s launched, the project’s success depends fully on its users, so it’s important to listen to their preferences. Of course, you, as an expert, can share your idea about what users prefer – and that will be the exact thing your design looks like now!
- Stay friendly and ready to help.
People are tired of the sense of distrust and insolence. Instead of talking down to them some tech details your client may not know about, it’s vitally important to stay friendly and ready to educate the client on the area of your competence so that they understand the strong points in your design naturally and feel as if they came to understand that on their own. Explain your reasoning in a friendly way and open way – and you’ll see how more willing the client will be to accept it.
- Never say no.
Don’t contradict the client directly by saying “No, I can’t do it” or “No, you are wrong”. In this way you only create a negative image, contribute into the conflict and make the client feel like refusing all your arguments in turn. Instead, listen to them without objections and nod in approval when the client is right. Thus you’ll earn more respect and understanding from your opponent that you could in a heated debate.
- Recognize their business needs.
As a designer you probably care too much about the aesthetic appeal of your work whereas the client is more interested in its practical value for their business. Naturally, explaining your point from the designer’s perspective will not give you expected results. Instead, keep talking about how your design meets their business needs and how you kept that business side of the project in mind while developing it.
- Don’t defy their ideas.
A client is a grownup person with a big business expertise and determined goals. They don’t want you to tell them they don’t need this or that, and they don’t want you to do this even more because you are paid money for doing what they want. That’s why your communication should be not about who’s right, but about you can better help the client achieve their goals. Therefore, instead of challenging them, it’s critical to show you are taking them seriously.
- Don’t take it too personal.
You two are not arguing – you are working on the common goal which is the project. The client isn’t challenging your expertise (or nerves) – they are just worrying about how to gain the best software or website. Similarly, all your suggestions are made for the sake of that project, not for your own sake. Once you assume this right order of things, it’ll be easier to take off the pressure associated with this discussion.
- Tell them the design sticks to the original purpose.
Once the client is apt to say that you’ve done something wrong, it’s helpful to delicately remind them of the initial plan of project design you took as a basis for your work. Don’t just say this out right blaming the client – explain how everything you’ve done realizes your client’s idea and maybe they’ll recognize they were mistaken in the initial purpose and that affected the design. But, of course, people don’t tend to admit their mistakes so easily – rather the client is going to stop accusing you and decide on leaving the design as it is.
- Tell them about how the same thing worked well before.
Often their resistance is connected with the client’s worry that something will not work. As non-designers, they must have doubts and you should be the person who’ll lead them to the right decision. One such trick is to give them evidence supporting your idea of how this or that design element appeared successful in the market. This will reassure them in most cases.
- Show your care for the project.
If you are always focused on the project and nothing beyond the project, the client will feel OK relying on your in some issues they are not quite sure about. By showing your professionalism and care for the project you’ll gain more trust and freedom of actions. It’s much easier to come to a compromise with a person who’s into the same end game and who shares your goals, so you have to make it clear for the client that you are exactly that person.
- Speak like an expert.
This is the most important tip of all. It’s even more a rule than a tip since to make anybody sure in your words, you have to be sure of them yourself. And if you are sure, why should you worry? People believe confident people because they provide them with authority and reason to believe that something is true. So being confident while speaking to the client is not only important in order to provide a sense that you know your business very well, but it’s just essential whenever you want to stand your argument, as a psychological means of persuasion.
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