“Just don’t... get the job.”

Nov 10, 04:17 PM

“Get the job, get the job, get the job!”

At some point it’s not relevant anymore. You know, when the job does not qualify as a design job.

It seems that nearly 8 times out of 10, clients come to designers with their own pre-cooked solution. And boy! they’re so narrow-mindedly clinging to it, it’s almost impossible to process any design at all!

In my experience, 80% of the time, clients ask designers to do styling and decoration. 80% of the time then, I end up recommending amazingly skilled professionals in these capacities. They are stylists and decorators, they thrive in trends and fashion and boast singularly good tastes.

Among the 20% of ‘design jobs’ I eventually accept, a good half are really challenging my ethics. Why? I think in his “Inmates” Alan Cooper has a funny way to put it. It goes a bit like: “when we make our clients’ clients happy, we make our clients happy and they gladly pay us money”. So 10% of the time, I find my-self trying to convince my clients that I would rather work with them not for them.

On such occasions then, I end up explaining that they pay me to think in the best interest of their clients, which sometimes can lead up to conflicting views with their own interests, which eventualy does nothing in making them happy. These clients, I know, I won’t hear from them again – the feeling is mutual.

For the last 10% I do exactly the same thing but I’m faced with clients that are apt to change their stance and embrace evolution. Conflicting findings yield innovation opportunities, end-users’ insights solve positionning dilemmas. Good creative work is done and we end up collaborating “on the regular”.

I think there is some form of ‘natural selection’ going on when you state to clients that you don’t do design for them, but rather for their audience. If they don’t get it right away, prepare for a painful design propaganda marathon, or just don’t get the job.

This article is a revision of a comment originally posted on Thursday, March 10 as part of the discussion “To be a design professional is to navigate ethical territory that is rarely black or white, but some shade of gray. What compromises are and are not acceptable in this world?” started by Mark Lamster for glasshouseconversations.org on March 6, 2011.

Lalao HM. Rakotoniaina