Your portfolio is not all yours

March
10
2010

For anyone who provides any kind of service in the creative realm, you already know the frustration that can come from having to please a client on every front. As designers, it’s certainly not that we don’t want to make our clients happy, but it can be so difficult sometimes to save them from themselves.

Take for instance a recent client of mine. From the moment we met to discuss the project, I became very excited about it. I shared some ideas about how the business could grow beyond its current ilk of static informational websites to a destination place for enthusiasts, and authoritative voice for its industry. My client shared in the excitement and was quick to note that her intentions for this site were never fully realized, but that now she felt they might be. Things were starting off just right…

Not exactly “design by committee”, but…

As my work began, feedback for the website design was largely vague. As with most, my client knew much more about what she didn’t want than what she did, which suits me just fine anyway. That way, everyone’s clear about what’s taboo, and I get some latitude to design as I see fit so long as I avoid specific pitfalls.

As I finished polishing my design conception, having given great amounts of thought and consideration to colours, textures, white space, usability and the like, it was time to press on to the logo. Usually I have the logo from jump, but in this case the logo was being scrapped. While I mused at what might work nicely in its place, the client had already begun developing a new one.

Enter Papyrus

That’s right, the bane of typographic design the world over, I received the logo designed by my client only to discover that I’d been “James Cameroned” (that’s right, I’m making him a verb to be used whenever the ill-advised use of this font springs up, just as he used the hell out of it for his latest movie, Avatar). What’s worse is that I got the logo idea as part of a design concept for a splash page!

Choosing your battles

Now, obviously as a web designer I found a splash page and a logo written in Papyrus both objectionable, almost to the point of physical discomfort. Unfortunately, when a client is already sold on something that you didn’t sell them on, you’re often fighting an uphill battle. There’s also a necessary amount of sensitivity for what the client wants out of their project, because, well, it’s theirs!

After hearing about how much this client loved that font, I decided that I would try to take the bridge at “splash river” to help fend off further assault, even though sleek typography had been sacked at the “town of Papyrus”!

Unfortunately, a splash page was one of the few things this client was sure they wanted as part of the new website. I explained bounce rates, SEO, and the perils of flash web pages.

In the end, I had to agree to the splash page, but got the client to concede that flash would be left out.

Now, I just have to find my way to adding that website to my portfolio. Dam you James Cameron!

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