10 things you should NEVER ask a designer

Clients – you've got to love them. Except when you secretly want to strangle them.

Yes, of course, clients are the people who pay our wages, and so even when they're at their most frustrating, we do our best to keep these feelings to ourselves, smile sweetly and remain calm, polite and helpful. But there are some things guaranteed to get our blood boiling. We've rounded up the top culprits...

01. Can we have the layered files? We just want to tweak them in-house

"You want my layers? You're going to have to come through me to get them!"

It's an old favourite, and one that clients will try so they can get their in-house team (or more likely just someone they know) to have a play with the files. Even if they're just messing about with a font they don't like, this can potentially change the whole look and feel of the project.

Your likely response will be: "I can't give you the layered files as they are too large to transfer and in an order only I can understand. If you want to tweak the final result, we can discuss this."

But you want to say: "Why should I give you the layered file when I just know you're going to change everything and f**k it all up?"

02. Could you do something in the style of [insert name here]?

Here's how this story goes: a) Client sees something they love b) Client finds out who did it c) Client realises that designer would cost them a fortune d) Client asks you to replicate this style for a fraction of the cost.

It's incredibly frustrating when this happens. You thrive on having your own style and aesthetic; why would you want to copy someone else's? Plus, you're bound to get some stick for it in the design community.

Your likely response will be: "I respect that style and think it's great. However, have you seen this that I did for [client]? I think this style could work equally well."

But you want to say: "I'm sorry, ripping people off just ain't cool, man."

03. Can I have that in Word format?

"Oh dear. You just don't get it, do you?"

Some clients just don't understand design. It's something that, unless you're very lucky, that you're bound to encounter at least once in your career. It's similar to the question above – but shows an even greater misunderstanding of the design process.

Your likely response will be: "I can't send you a Word file as this was created in [insert software here]. However, I'm happy to send you a PDF file that you can open in the free Adobe Reader application for review."

But you want to say: "Word? Word? Woooooorrrrrrrrrrddddd?!!!"

04. Just one more thing...

One type of client who doesn't communicate well is known as 'The Columbo'. Just like the fictional detective, this client initially seems kind, but once your inbox starts erupting with dozens of update requests, you'll realise they indulge in circumstantial speech that meanders to the point, and the closest thing they know to a full stop is the phrase: "Just one more thing..."

Here are Bryce Bladon's tips for dealing with uncommunicative clients.

05. This looks great – but can you add this image from Google please?

Note to non-designers: Google listing an image doesn't make it copyright-free

Another example of clients not understanding the design process, and IP laws in particular. Here's the scenario. You've mocked up a project using stock images (that you've bought). But the client doesn't like them – even though it's just a mockup and you've explained this several times. So, they do a bit of Googling and find the perfect image of a man in a suit at a desk. And they want THAT image. Sigh.

Your likely response will be: "We can't use that particular image as it's the property of [such and such] and has been used on another campaign. If you want an image like that I have a photographer who I collaborate with."

But you want to say: "Don't be such a fool! For one, that image is terrible. And secondly, you can't just take images from wherever you want and use them! Don't you know anything?"

Next page: five more things you should NEVER say to a designer