Designer and Client Faults

By Toon
An interesting post over at the Estetica Forum titled: Designer and Client Faults, I thought I'd share it here too.

Designer and Client Faults


So you as the client pay good money for an A3 double page spread. The last thing you want is the designer skimping on actual design work. What you get in return is a small heading with body copy and three quarters of white space left. This usually leads to the designer being asked to fill every space on the white paper with ads, call to actions, the company logo, pictures, infographics, contact details, social media icons, etc.

The expression ‘Less is more’ applies here. It’s quite possible the reason for the white space in the first place was for the message to have more impact. There isn’t (and shouldn’t be) any pressure to fill the whole page. Most of the time you’ll find that the design with a very simple message is more effective than the one crowded with too much detail.


Graphic design is the creative process of communicating a message through the use of image and text. It’s no secret that the perfect image is key to making a design work. In some cases where the supporting text is minimal it’s make or break. But in this tough economy you want to keep costs as low as possible. So you supply an image that you took yourself. Problem solved right? Well unless your other job is a professional photographer then no.

The harsh truth is that you are not a photographer. It’s quite understandable that you want to keep costs to a minimum but it comes at the expense of having your design look unprofessional. Royalty free images have proven to be very successful and is the answer here. The wide range of choices also help the designer have more freedom to work rather than the restrictions imposed by a supplied image.


You need something designing but all you have at the moment is a few lines of text that briefly outlines what you want. You still haven’t decided what images you want in there and the messaging hasn’t been confirmed yet. Unfortunately you need it by the end of the week so this will have to do for now. So you hit send and hope for the best.

There may be quite a few issues that are playing a part in the delay here. Images that haven’t been commissioned yet may still need supplying. Perhaps you are taking over someone else’s workload and aren’t fully up to speed. However being unorganised isn’t good practice for a successful business. Make sure you contact the studio only after you know exactly what you want. It’s the same kind of organisation you would expect from the design studio (Would you want them to send you half a logo?). Therefore it is essential to make sure the level of professionalism goes both ways.


A really important decision in design is what colour to choose. In most cases there are two colours (primary and secondary) However you want the design to look “bright” and “vibrant” so your choices aren’t exactly the best. Unfortunately bright pink and lime green just don’t mix.

: It’s best to have some knowledge of colour theory. There are some colours that just don’t go well together whilst other colours can have a completely different meaning to the message being conveyed. A quick solution to this situation is to visit sites like Kuler (https://kuler.adobe....ate/color-wheel) or Colour Scheme Designer (Paletton - The Color Scheme Designer) to help you pick out the right colour.


You have the perfect design but it’s too small. What if the customers can’t read this from a distance? It needs to be bigger.

Solution: First of all unless it’s large format print (signs, bus backs etc.) the customer probably won’t be reading a leaflet from a distance. Having really large elements can affect the overall look of the final design. It not only compromises it but also patronizes the viewer. Most clients feel that by not making their title or logo bigger it would mean that customers might miss out on what the main message is or whom it’s from. This is nothing more than a myth. Customers are a lot smarter than you think.



Designers have this mentality where they skim and scan through a brief, pick out the keywords and get straight to work. Within hours they have created their work and sent it out on proof. Job well done, bring on the next- oh wait, what’s this? The client came back with a huge list of changes? What did I do wrong?

The problem here is the supposed precognitive ability that designers think they have. You think you’ve read this kind of brief before and so the rest of it isn’t important. In doing this you ignore important details such as tone, target audience, specifications etc. In some cases you have read the brief but have misinterpreted it. It’s advised to ask as many questions as you can. Remember that ‘He who asks is a fool for 5 minutes, but he who never asks is a fool forever’


There is nothing worse than having something look beautiful on-screen but looking completely different on paper. This is always down to the type of colour model that it is. RGB is always used for on-screen whilst CMYK is for print.

It’s always worth checking this before sending it to print. The best way to do this in Indesign is to go to File > Preflight which gives you an overview of everything from missing links to RGB images.


Clients can be indecisive. There will always be a situation where the client feels that a previous version you did actually works better than the new one. Unfortunately you saved over that old version and there’s no way to get it back.

The solution is a simple one. Make sure you save versions of the same artwork elsewhere. It’s worth doing this when a big change is asked of you. Also try to work in a non-destructive workflow. This means that you should set your work out in a way that should be easier for you to access and track back should you need to i.e. duplicate layers, use masks instead of eraser, create new layers.


Sometimes there is a lot of text that needs adding to a page. There may not be a way around this and the client can’t edit any of it as it’s all important. So you go about designing it in the only way you know how. You make everything as small as possible.

This is a difficult situation to be in. There are times where a client can edit their copy to help make space for your design so if this is an option then by all means use this to your advantage. If not then you need to start prioritising your message. What part is the most important? Is it the most visible? It’s possible that you may have to sacrifice good design to achieve this. As a general rule never have body copy smaller than 8pt.


Everyone has been in a situation where they get really invested in their work. So much so that they have more than one option. In doing this you feel like some fonts work well in the first version. But the second version has a more appropriate font. Why not use them all?

: Good designers have this unwritten rule where they restrain form using more than 2 fonts. Sometimes the main headline requires a very decorative font. Make that your primary font. This font doesn’t necessarily have to carry over into the main body copy so for that a more legible font can be used.

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Toon Creffield

I'm Toon Creffield - A Graphic Design and Marketing professional from Sheffield, UK