Sometimes when clients come and ask for a website they don’t know exactly what they want, but they want a website. Other times they are very specific with their criteria. But in both cases it can come down to the fact that they want a website that they like. This is when it can become difficult to do a good job. Why? Because when a client comes to you, they come to an expert, they want you to tell them how to do things the right way so that they can achieve their goals. If they come and tell you how to do the thing they are paying you to do, how it should look, then they rob themselves of the benefits of your expertise.
This problem is usually created in first few minutes of the first meeting with that client. You need to make it clear that you are there as someone that will bridge between their goals and what their customers are looking for. This is your job, and you are there to press hard for the needs of the customers that visit your client’s website.
If you choose yellow and orange as the scheme for the website, just because these are your client’s favourite colours – you have failed your client. They can be happy in the first moment, but long term they will probably not achieve the goals that were the reason for the existence of the website in the first place.
Design is for the visitors
Tell them that, press on it, explain the reasoning. Then, when you make decisions about the design, make them based on the research you did about that target audience. What do they want, and what does your client want to tell them. As a designer you are a visual communicator and this is why you get paid, not to “make things pretty”.
It is critical for us as designers to realise that we are in the position of professionals and experts, not people who get told what to do. This is not about ego, but we need to realise it in order to fulfil the needs of our clients. Design is not just about making things pretty, it creates a bridge between the business’ goals and those of its customers. And you are the one that needs to build that bridge.