10 things you should NEVER ask a designer

06. This job will get you get loads of exposure. Can you do it for free?

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book: trying to get a designer friend to do a commercial project as if it was a personal party invite. There's no excuse for it – even if you're at the beginning of your design career. It will likely make your blood boil. 

As for the exposure line – would you say to a bathroom fitter "I can't pay you, but when everyone sees my bathroom I'll tell them you did it," or to your dentist "If you make my teeth whiter for free I'll tell my friends and they'll come and pay to have theirs whitened." No. You wouldn't.

Your likely response will be: "Sorry, I'm busy and can't take on any non-paying projects."

But you want to say: Unpublishable. But you can learn how to work through your rage by following these guidelines.

07. That's easy – I could do it

Yukai Du for Computer Arts issue 233

Ah, the well-meaning idiot; 'the design savant'. These types of clients tend to know so little, they don't appreciate how little they know.

They think their wall of participation awards makes them a world-class athlete, and all those hours watching House have made them a doctor – and the fact that no one ever told them otherwise makes it all true. Here's what Bryce Bladon recommeds you do...

08. We don't have any content at the moment. Can you just design the site and we'll put it in later?

Yep, no problem. You don't have any content whatsoever, no idea on a colour palette, not even a slogan. You haven't even decided on a company name. But of course I can design you a site. I have no idea what it will look like. Maybe I could add some teddy bears, flowers, and do the whole thing in Comic Sans? That would work perfectly with what you don't have in mind, right?

Your likely response will be: "No, sorry, we will need to discuss the content of the site and your objectives before we can do any wireframing or design work."

But you want to say: "Get out of my office right now and stop wasting my time, you pea-brained numpty!"

09. Can you make it pop?

Ah, the old 'make it pop'! A client's favourite. Basically it's the same old codswallop as 'make the logo bigger'. It's not going to make the design better. At best, the designer will maybe settle for making something a bit brighter, and at worst, the design will start to veer towards garish.

Your likely response will be: First, ask the client exactly what they mean. Do they want it brighter in general? Try to explain things logically, saying there's a reason for the existing colour palette. If they still insist, ask them to come back in a bit and while they are gone either pretend to make some changes and see what they say when they see the result, or simply ramp up the brightness on your monitor. Of course you could just make some subtle Levels tweaks.

But you want to say: "Pop? Pop? I'll make it pop alright!" Then turn all the text fluorescent yellow.

10. I need to withhold payment until you do a little more...

There are numerous ways a client can mess with your money. They might try to convince you that your price is egregious; they might withhold payment until you do more (essentially free) work; they might drag their feet when it's time to cough up.

Fortunately, the worst nightmare client you can encounter as a designer is also the easiest to avoid. But saying that to someone who finds themselves here isn't very good advice. So here are some tips from Bryce Bladon...

Liked this? Read these!