Picture this: Your website needs a new look…maybe something professional, yet inviting. As a client, you need someone who can convey exactly the right tone you’re trying to express to captivate customers and turn a profit. As a designer, you need to have room to establish a creative and custom layout. But how do you know when you’ve found your perfect match? Just meeting a designer skilled in their area isn’t enough to go into business with them. On the flip side, designers are looking for clients who will appreciate their input, instead of those who steal the show.

To achieve the best outcome, an even collaboration between a designer and client must be present. There should also be a mutual understanding of the desired goals, business principles, and aesthetic vision. Adhere to these keys to success, and you’ll be sure to maximize your productivity and effectiveness of the designer/client relationship.


Establish clear and concise goals upfront. Before you both throw yourself into a project, be sure to discuss both of your visions for the project. Getting on the same page early on is crucial to avoiding misunderstandings and expanding ideas that will move your project forward. Establishing goals upfront will also make it easier should one of you need to say “no” to a design aspect somewhere down the road.

If you’re a designer, be a designer. If you’re a client, be a client. Problems start to arise whenever these role boundaries are crossed. If your designer starts pointing out flaws with your website that you don’t want to change, resentment and frustration can occur. On the flip side, if you (the client) begins talking about exactly how you want the graphic to be sized and shaped, it can make the designer feel unneeded and as if they aren’t working collaboratively with you, but just being dictated to. Respect is key to productivity, and rules will need to be put into place to ensure that both roles are being respected.

Check your ego at the door. If you really want to respect your designer/client roles, it means toning down your ego to fully comprehend what the other person is saying. It’s great that you’re emotionally involved with your company, but as a client, if you can’t put that aside to allow another person room to be creative and think outside the box, you’re missing out on a lot of innovative new ideas. On the flip side, if your designer can’t put their ego aside to fully comprehend the core meaning of what you want (even if it doesn’t align with their ideas), there will be a significant amount of frustration on both sides.

Trust one another. Trust is hard to earn and sometimes harder to keep, but when you have it, there is nothing more rewarding. The ability to trust your designer gives you faith in their ability, and gives them more leeway to expand creatively. Conversely, if your designer trusts you, they will allow you to access the creative and technical processes of the design.

Follow through. Most people will assume this only means that designers should follow through with the plan that they say they’ll put into place. While this is certainly true, you have a responsibility as well as the client. If you say, for example, that you’re going to email photos that you want used on the website, follow through with that promise. Otherwise, the designer is forced to chase after you, which causes undue frustration.

COMMUNICATE. Share exactly what you want to achieve at the end of this process. If you establish goals up front, you need to work to complete them correctly and in a timely manner. If you don’t like a certain design, say something! We’re all adults here and no one will have their feelings hurt by telling someone in a professional manner that something doesn’t align with the initial vision. In fact, it’s better to say something before it becomes too late and you’re left wondering how things go so far from your original vision. Discussing responsibilities is crucial, sharing problems is imperative, and bouncing ideas around is one step closer to a brilliant website. If you don’t communicate with one another, no one will end up happy and both of you will suffer from disappointment.

By following these keys, you’re guaranteeing that both parties are equally involved in the creation of a new and innovative product. When it comes down to it, both the client and the designer want the same thing, a successful and happy relationship that leads to better business on both ends.

If you’re interested in exploring the designer-client relationship with us, get in touch. We do both web and print design, and we’d be happy to help you out.

GTECH Designs is a Baltimore-based web marketing firm that is committed to helping impact-makers spend more time doing good. For more information, contact us at 410-775-4100, email us at [email protected], or get in touch with us via  Facebook or Twitter.

About The Author

Bola Olonisakin

Bola Olonisakin

Bola is the founder and principal at GTECH Designs, a digital creative agency that helps small and mid-sized businesses launch, grow and succeed. Her research and work in web design, social media and strategic communication have been published in numerous books and articles, and she’s regularly seen on stage at events around the country. She’s responsible for teaching GTECH clients how to blend strategic goal-setting with great design to create effective online marketing strategies. You can reach her at [email protected]