As a designer, your work is vital to businesses. Most people prefer to read something with a beautiful design than a plain one. In addition, about 39% of people abandon a website if the images don’t load or load slowly. That might make you think your work should flow seamlessly. After all, it is vital work. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
There are many unknown factors and potential pitfalls in design work, such as the preferences of your client, coding issues that might crop up, or third-parties who don’t deliver on time. Every designer has problems here and there, knowing how to overcome them is the key that makes one designer more successful than another.
As a designer, you are likely juggling several clients at one time and several different projects, all at different phases. The Franklin Covey system of productivity can become extremely helpful in situations where you feel overwhelmed. First, you should follow the Covey pyramid which lists identifying your values as goals as the base of the pyramid. You should also prioritize tasks as urgent, not urgent and important and not important.
For your benefit, set a time every evening before you’re done working to plan your next day’s schedule. Write down what you want to accomplish and give yourself realistic completion times. Keep in mind that tasks with a written plan have a 90% success rate. By having a schedule, you increase your productivity and will benefit everyone in the long run.
If you have a regular client who expects you to create a new infographic every Friday and this client pays you like clockwork, that is going to take priority over the occasional client who only throws work your way once or twice a year or perhaps takes forever to pay.
Not Knowing When to Say No
Another pitfall you might run into as a designer is clients who try to tack on work after you’ve already agreed on a price. They want a “few changes” here and a few changes there. Oh, and could you also create a PDF of this page for print copy? Oops, they forgot to mention you’ll need to clean up some old pages for them.
Pretty soon, all these changes can add up to more time than you allotted for the price you quoted. You have to know when you are simply offering a good customer service experience and when you are being taken advantage of. One solution is to send a polite note that the add-ons are going to require X% more of your time than expected and you’ll need to charge X more dollars to cover the extra work.
Being Too Defensive
Have you ever pointed out to a co-worker that changing something could make their work better and had your head almost bitten off? Not only is it not fun to be on the receiving end of a person who is defensive about their work, but clients will wind up with designs they aren’t really happy with.
Do your best not to take ownership of your designs to the point that you take it personal when a client tells you they hate the yellow in the middle of the logo and want green instead. Some changes might actually make the design better in the end.
Not Understanding Your Audience
Know your client’s target audience. If their target audience is senior citizens, you’ll need to choose a crisp, clean font and a simple design. About 50% of visitors view the navigation menu to understand what a site has to offer. Make this simple to find. Younger audiences may recognize a hamburger menu while older audiences may or may not.
One of the worst things you can do that will get you not only fired, but lose you referrals is to not keep up with current trends in design. Know the trends, understand them, but don’t be afraid to break the rules and explain to your clients why you think something fresher or more classic will work better for their target audiences.
Sloppy work will also lose you clients and cause you extra hours to fix those mistakes. Check for typos and grammar. Even in a simple design, such as an infographic, it is easy to transpose numbers or use the wrong symbol. Check and recheck your work to give it a professional edge.
When it comes to design work, there are some tried and true standards that will always remain. Perfect those, add some fresh touches, listen to your clients and you’ll soon be avoiding the pitfalls and turning away work because you have far too much of it to keep up.