10 Phrases Designers Hate Hearing (And What We Wish We Could Say Back)

worst graphic design clientsSometimes it really feels like the design business would be amazing if it wasn’t for all those damned clients. Unfortunately, we usually have to bite our tongues when a client makes a stupid request that’s going to make our lives harder. Here’s a little catharsis for you.

“I can’t really explain what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

That’s OK, because I’m also a part-time psychic, so guessing what you want based on no information shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, wait I’m getting a premonition… I see this project costing you huge amounts of money.

“My wife/daughter/nephew/friend has an eye for this kind of thing. Maybe they can help you design it.”

Perfect. I’ll just add my babysitting charge onto the quote I provided you, then we’ll be ready to get started! Just so you know, my babysitting rate is actually 3 times what I charge for design.

“Can you give me the design as a Word document so I can make changes myself?”

You know, you’ll never believe it but not one of my design programs has a function to export to Word. It must be some kind of conspiracy because Word is clearly the best tool for the job. Oh, that reminds me: I ran into your mechanic. He wants you to call him because he has some questions about your request that he rebuild your engine out of Lego so you can do your own repairs.

“I started doing this myself, but ran into problems, so it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to polish up what I’ve done.”

I always say the most rewarding part of my job is trying to salvage someone else’s mess. Just give me a moment here, I need to phone my electrician to tell him how easy it’s going to be for him to fix my home wiring job. Oh, that reminds me… I need to call the fire department too.

“I’ve been meaning to call you for weeks now. The deadline is tomorrow.”

Oh, good. It’s so handy that the universe works in such strange ways that a project magically takes less time if you leave it until the last minute. I also had a feeling that you might call, so I told all my other clients to take a hike so I could drop everything to do your project.

“I’m not an artist, but here’s how I would do it.”

Thank you so much. It’s really a pain for me when I have to use my skills and professional judgement on a project. In fact, I find that the most effective way to get anything done is to hire a professional, then tell them how to do their job. Later today I’m going to tell my doctor how to perform my colonoscopy.

“I can’t afford a logo design right now. Can you just design me a business card and come up with some sort of logo while you’re at it.”

No problem. I’ll get on it right after I order my lunch. I can’t afford a hamburger, so I’m going to order a pickle, then ask them to just throw a hamburger underneath it while they’re at it.

“I don’t have a copy of our logo, but you can get it off our website”

No worries. I don’t bother keeping track of things that are important to my business either. That 100 pixel wide gif from your website will look awesome in the billboard I’m designing for you.

“Sure, I supplied the text and signed off on the proof, but you really should have noticed that obvious typo. I really think you should pay for the 100,000 copies of the brochure that are already printed.”

You must have noticed our free scape-goat service where we accept responsibility for all our clients’ mistakes. It’s very popular and has made us the top charitable organization in the country. On the downside, we’re $50 million in debt.

“We haven’t actually got the content for the brochure done yet. Can you just go ahead and design it, then we’ll give you the content afterwards?”

That’s a great idea. I’ll just block out some space in random sizes, then if you give me too much I’ll just remove random words and images until it fits, and if you give me too little I’ll just fill the space with pictures of my butt and a collection of my favorite curse words.

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16 Responses to 10 Phrases Designers Hate Hearing (And What We Wish We Could Say Back)

  1. 2.0 says:

    Ha! That’s awesome. My favorite is asking to have a hamburger thrown in with your pickle!

  2. MR says:

    This is really funny. Now can you just make sure all my clients read this? :)

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  5. Karen says:

    LOL… this is soooo accurate!! I’m going to put this on the home page of my website!

  6. Ryan says:

    Haha, that is perfect. I can’t pretend to be a graphics person at all, but I am a programmer and I can tell you it is the exact same thing for us! Though its normally, “My last programmer got us to about 90% complete so it shouldn’t take long at all. You only need to create this form to interact with this one and use ajax for this, oh, and rotate these graphics this way when this is click, but don’t do anything if this is clicked and that is set to 3…”. Just because it takes 2 seconds to click a button and SEE the result doesn’t mean it takes 3 seconds to program the logic!

    …. I’m getting hostile now. Great post=)

  7. David says:

    I appreciate the humor, but us designers will always be stuck in bad situations if we don’t realize that we are consultants who need to fit into our client’s businesses and not the other way around. Once we see ourselves as a team member in pursuit of our client’s business objectives, we’ll start having more success and less conflict.

    This post by @AJWShaughnessy on @DesignObserver starts to get at this point. http://t.co/yR8jMYc

    • Yes, you’re absolutely right. This post was just meant to be fun and give people a little laugh. Thanks for linking to that article. It makes some valuable points. We at Some Design Blog definitely agree with the attitude of being on your client’s side, and we touched on it a bit in one of our previous articles, 8 Daily Reminders For Being a Better Designer. Thanks for reading!

    • Naturally I agree with you’re overall statement, but it’s as if you haven’t read the article. It is true that we, as vendors, must educate our clients as how to best build their brand/product but we are not miracle workers, i.e., When a client, in the first creative meeting either utters the magic words of “knowing it when they see it” or how I must get approval from each member of a committee, I educate them as to choosing the right direction, methods and timelines… and then I quote the project accordingly. I will play failed mindreader if that is how they insist on proceeding but the hours roll up, as does my fee.

      I have noticed typos and point them out to the appreciative client but when a recent project had the wrong legal name of the company (no way of my knowing) and they noticed it as the presses were about to roll, you can bet my fee to stay up all night, fixing such a foolish blunder almost doubled the original fee.

      The same goes for all examples. Sure, it lays out what we would LIKE to say, but a professional knows how to work with a client so all parties are happy. The deadline is tomorrow? I’ll be happy to take on the challenge. Here’s my quote. Too high? Do you this favor and you’ll “remember me?” It’ll be rewarded with more work “later?” Walking away may not be as funny as some of the things one might say, but it sure helps educate the client with less conflict!

  8. Geek Girl says:

    I love this!!! wow I want to post this on my site but i know i’d offend my clients. It is completely accurate. I can picture a client for each one of these…of course Ill smile or respond with a good answer. But deep down i wanna say are you kidding me. My favorite is the first one.

  9. Hilarious! Remind me why I shouldn’t be saying this to clients, because I do. They don’t seem to get the humor. Must be my delivery.

  10. HAHAHAHHAHAHA! This totally made my day, but it’s sad that this is all true!

  11. oh god! I wish I could say these things to my clients! I never have the courage to, but I really loved the hamburger/pickle one…just brilliant.

  12. Just good enough to be dangerous says:

    They missed the one I use with my ad agency all the time…

    Can you make it more “designy”?

  13. I laughed out loud throughout!!!! I can think of hundreds of times I wish I had said that!!! Nt really, but the next time I will be thinking it and laughing!!! Glad to know I am not alone in the design wilderness with the crazy clients!!!

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