I think a lot of people don’t even know what a designer really does. They seem to think we’re just artsy people who have the software to build whatever bad ideas they’ve dreamed up.
It’s important to get input from clients to make sure the end goal of the project is clearly understood, but when they begin assuming I’m just a hired pair of hands to implement their ideas, I begin to lose my patience.
About a year ago, I got a call from an institute associated with a big university. The institute was set up to promote harmonious relationships with various cultures around the world, and they needed a logo for themselves.
They told me they wanted a circle to represent the world (like a globe) with all the continents and oceans on it. They also said they wanted the oceans constructed out of a word cloud using a set of words that they had already come up with. I explained that this would be a bad idea because of the complexity and legibility issues at small sizes.
Their response was for me to feel free to come up with something I felt would work better, which I did. When I showed them the work, they were unimpressed and after talking to them, they kept coming back to this awful word cloud logo they had in mind. I finally realized that this really was what they wanted, so I told them it would take several days for me to create it, to which their response was money didn’t really matter.
I was already 20 or 30 hours into this project, so I just decided to go along thinking I could somehow salvage it. Unfortunately, it just got worse as they got more and more picky about exactly how it should look, the colors they wanted, and the gradient they wanted to make it look more 3d. They also kept changing the words in the word cloud in an effort to be as politically correct as possible. It went on for days while they tweaked, retweaked, changed their minds, went back and forth, and got other people involved — all of whom were trying to micromanage me.
The hours kept piling up. I kept telling them it was adding up to a very expensive logo. They told me not to worry about it. They finally decided it was perfect, so I sent them the final copy below. It was easily the most ill-conceived logo I’ve ever built. I got paid. They used it for a couple of months, then word got back to me that they were going to change it because it wasn’t working out for the very reasons I told them it wouldn’t.
Sometimes I think some clients go completely out of their way to spend money making sure the job turns out as poorly as possible.