What I changed myself to satisfy clients without losing the standard

5 tips from a Designer’s perspective.


Hoang Nguyen

3 years ago | 5 min read

Typically, a designer will start a new project with eagerness because:

This client seems easy-going. He also has good taste and has all his faith in me. This definitely will be a project which I should proudly add to my portfolio. Let’s do it!

Later on, after lots of changes and suggestions, that easy-going person is nowhere to be found. He has transformed into a demanding client with weird taste, which ruins your initial good ideas. Eventually, the project finishes, but we feel that it is one we should not feel proud of and decide not to use in our portfolio.

It’s all because of the clients. Because they are so demanding!

Now let’s consider, have we ever been in the shoes of an annoying client?

  • If my cup of coffee has so much milk, I will ask for more coffee.
  • If my Kamikaze (a cocktail mixed from vodka, lime juice, liqueur) is too sour, I will ask the bartender for another one.

Not only in the Creative industry, but annoying clients do also exist in all industries. Here are five tips I learned from over 9+ years working as a Product Designer.

Creative majors are often “in the same boat” in customer management. So I hope this may provide a perspective to other creators to apply for their case.

1. Designing is a service-product mix

it’s service-based because

Both clients and designers initially don’t know how a complete product will look like. There is a huge expectation gap between the two parties, which requires many processes to clarify and lessen it.

If you provide a service, you must be responsible for the process.

It as well is product-based.

The final output of the design process is a visible product (logos, websites, posters, etc.). The client will assess the designer based on that outcomes.

If you produce the products, you are the one taking all the responsibilities for the complete products.

Therefore, I consider designing as a combination of both the service and product industry to accept our responsibility in both fields.

The point is taking responsibility. Our job does not end when we finish our consulting or deliver our work. We care about the impact they create and the value they contribute to the business because we understand that this actually brings satisfaction to our clients.

2. Designing is not the work of an artist

The most significant difference between an artist and a designer is the purpose of their products.

  • Artists create things to express themselves, primarily work off instinct.
  • Products created by designers are to solve a specific problem for their target users.

It’s also worth mentioning that designing usually is affected by emotions. Designers aim to be more creative and convey their style via their designs as much as possible. On the other hand, clients are always looking for some design solutions that are really “Wow,” but at the same time bring value to their business.

It’s common to see how designers are emotionally attached to their design while clients focus on what they want. Should their roads never cross each other, the relationship will worsen and usually end up with the designers feeling insulted and the clients being disappointed.

Clients don’t pay us so that we will have a chance to polish our portfolio. They have their problems with their business and are willing to invest in having the problem resolved.

Hence, let set our ultimate goal is to resolve the problems which our clients are facing. It is the first step to build mutual sympathy, or correctly put. We are on their side in this relationship.

Chris Do talked about the same matter in his clip, “Your client is not your enemy.”

3. What Clients want

It is human nature to ask for the best. Our clients are no exceptions.

But limitations do exist in reality. Some that have the most significant impact on the final result are Time, Cost, and Quality.

I’ve seen memes making fun of how titanic the expectation is while the project budget is tiny.


But before laughing at them, ask ourselves whether we have ever tried telling them about the matter? The designers are experts in their domain, so act like ones by listening to clients’ needs, studying and analyzing those, then consulting them on suitable solutions matching the limitations.


  • If possible, ask for the client’s budget. If they can answer it, then provide them with an estimated cost for similar designs that we have made.
  • Be sure to include the URLs to example outputs when sending out the quote so that they can visualize how the product will look in its final stage.
  • Upon receiving their extra/special requirements, let them know how much time and money they will take accordingly.
  • If possible, raise the constraints and consult the solution as soon as possible because the closer it is to the due date, the more challenging it to convince the client. If you can provide five design options for a logo with acceptable quality in 7 days, tell the clients immediately. If they still want to stick to that schedule, talk to them and only make it 2–3 options.

4. What we think

Different points of view create different responses to a problem. Especially with designers and their expertise, they tend to be biased in what they think is true, then subjectively suppose that they understand what clients want.

The client might favor a bird with a red crest, but it must be the one with a blue tail for us.

That’s how problems happen. Even people in the same family might misunderstand each other, which leads to “I thought…”, “He thought…:”, “She thought…” situations, let alone us and our clients.

Thinking that professional people talk less but understand more is a wrong mindset that could make us lose everything. Make sure what we thought has been confirmed by our clients for its correctness.


  • Ask questions clearly, and frequently throughout your process of creation.
  • Repeat what we understand using our own words so that the clients will have a chance to spot errors and correct them.
  • All communication must or should be done via email because it is written down and has legally valid.
  • Improve our communication skills, keep them concise. Don’t challenge the client’s patience with lengthy emails or chat messages.

5. What pleases the client

What clients want is neither what they say nor what we think. What they want is what we and they work together to clarify.

That is the reason why we need the design processes. Applying them helps us better clarify client expectations, show them what limitations they might run into when implementing the design in real life, and then work with them to resolve their problems.

Finally, the biggest challenge for me to become a good designer is neither finding remarkable concepts nor creating an outstanding design. It is “managing client expectations.”

And I hope that demanding clients will not make you lose your spark in designing.

Originally published here.


Created by

Hoang Nguyen

Co-Founder and Product Design Coach at GEEK Up. Writing about Product Design, Creativity, and Personal Awareness. Site:







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