Rethinking Deliverables

When presenting ideas to clients it is important to show the details behind your work, and to put as much thought into your presentation as you did with the designs themselves.

One aspect of the design professional's job is to educate our clients and to communicate the reasoning behind the functional and aesthetic choices that we make during the project. Too often designers simply offer a solution without showing the background story of how we arrived at that conclusion in the first place. This can lead the client to assume that the design choices are arbitrary or surface in nature. (And in a few cases that might not be too far off.)

In the past I have been guilty of handing off a mockup or a logo to a customer followed by an open-ended "Here is the concept. What do you think?" But I have come to realize how wrong this is. It sets you up for failure because you haven't given the client the information they need to make an informed decision about the changes. Why did you choose those colors? What was your goal for making the primary element so important? And so on. It also means that the client can only push back on your design, not the reasoning behind it.

This is a big deal. Instead of better explaining their goals the client will automatically point out the aspects of your solution that they don't like. It is important that designers and clients communicate clearly about the problems that need to be solved, and to evaluate designs against those objectives, not just arbitrary likes and dislikes. Presenting your designs clearly can go a long way towards making sure that you and your client are on the same page.

Paul Rand designed this booklet for Express, it is one of a few brilliant examples of how to lead a client through your design approach.