I’m really sorry

This is the subject line from an email we received from a long standing client. The content of the email linked to a list of posters which visualise a number of common and sometimes odd requests a design agency can receive from their clients. Our client in this case was aware they’d emailed similar feedback in the past and was apologising having understood that feedback like this isn’t always helpful.

Most agencies and freelancers will have tales of odd feedback they’ve received in the past. We all get feedback on a design that is vague, conflicting or demanding; none of which allows us to do our job to the fullest or give our clients the best return on investment.

But the feedback we receive isn’t necessarily the fault of clients. The processes many agencies have in place, mixed with varying degrees of understanding of the web industry means we cannot simply send a design to a client and leave no guide as to what kind of feedback we’re looking for.

Instead we have to try and guide the feedback away from fixing small details. As a design agency it’s our job to sweat the small stuff and free the client up to look at the overall picture of how a design fits their original brief and how it fulfils the needs of the business and its customers. A client will come to us with problems and it’s up to us to provide solutions.

But when we, as humans, see how to fix a problem we can’t help but try and move things along by providing a solution. Designers love problems and on being confronted with solutions we immediately want to ask questions such as “why?” so we can figure out what the root problem is. It’s only by understanding the problem that we can investigate, suggest and implement workable solutions as well as understand how they impact the rest of the whole website.

Of course we want to provide a design that our clients love, it’s necessary for them to feel engaged with the website for it to reach its full potential. But though this is true our primary focus will always be to make sure a website works for its users, as without them the website will never succeed. To do this sometimes we must question the feedback of our clients to ensure what they want is in the best interests of the user and ultimately the client.

Feedback is important but it has to be structured and guided so that what results from any feedback given has a positive effect on the user experience.

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