You’ve worked hours on it. It’s beautiful. It’s got glossy buttons, reflections, trendy diagonal lines and the perfect combination of textures and gradients. It’s easy to understand, the information is logically organized, the content is emphasized beautifully by contrasting colors and visual elements. It looks amazing… something like this or this: Now it’s time to send to the client! He/She is going to love it! You can’t wait to get comments of this piece of magic. You feel like a web design ninja! You get a good comfortable night sleep in you BED with visions of smiles and approval dancing through your head. You come in early the next day to work check your email and there it is… the response from your client! You open it up and it reads…

“I don’t really like it. Overall, this is really not the direction I wanted to go in with the site. Do you think we could try something new?”

The client is not always right… we just have to make them think they are always right

The initial response to this situation, post anger and aggression, is: “wow this client stinks!” What does “he / she” know about the direction they SHOULD go in! I’m the designer!

For the most part, theses comments are all valid. The client is not a designer, if they responded like the above quote they probably do stink, and no, they don’t know what direction they SHOULD go in.

What the client does know is what they WANT and how they want it to look. Unfortunately it is up to you to give them what they want. I believe every client has a basic mental picture of what they want from their website. “Good clients” are people who are willing to alter that image based on your input. Bad clients are the ones that stick to that image and don’t want to make any alterations to their beautiful imagination.

So in other words…

In order to go anywhere with clients, you need to understand your client and try to grasp their imaginary website. Being able to do this takes time and understanding of your client’s personality, site examples, and listening to how they talk about their website. If you do this, it is easier to do what the client wants. You have to use their imagination as a starting point for your comp.

The key is to both satisfy their mental image while demonstrating good design principles at the same time. Take advantage of the client’s hazy mental picture. Modernize it. Make it work. Unfortunately, a lot of the time client’s mental images of their site are based off badly designed web sites so you may have to sacrifice some cool web 2.0 design trends and styles in order to achieve a good balance.