Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what we do, be that logo design, vehicle wraps, websites, trade show booths; you name it. We forget that our clients don’t live in the same world as we do. Our clients don’t see the world through a designer’s eye.

When they look at a billboard, they see the message. When a designer looks at a billboard, not only do we take in the content and message. But we also take in the layout, the hierarchy, the use of negative space and the colour pallet. We note what fonts are used and what imagery they chose to relay their message.

When we see something that isn’t kerned correctly, we feel the need to point it out.

We feel almost obliged to mention every stock image we recognize out in the wild.See that photo of that happy family in that car insurance ad? I saw that exact photo on Depositphotos.”

And we stop to admire displays, posters, cards and everything else we think is well designed. After all, when you see something that you feel is well designed, don’t you secretly start cataloging pieces of it away in your mind so you can “borrow” the idea for something you create in the future?

As designers, our brains are just wired that way. We see the world through a designer’s eye. But sometimes, we forget that non-designers don’t see the world the way we do.

My wife has perfected the eye roll she uses whenever I start talking design about something I see. Sometimes she’ll feign interest, but I know that she doesn’t care that the line spacing on the restaurant’s menu is too tight. She just doesn’t get it because she’s not a designer.

But neither are our clients. That’s why they hire us for their projects. And sometimes, it’s easy to forget that they don’t have the same knowledge as us, nor the same interests. And they view the world through a different set of lenses than we do.

That’s why it’s a good idea that before you say or present anything to a client, you try to consider it from their point of view.

Case in point. A designer shared an intro packet PDF in a design group I belong to, asking for advice. The PDF is to give prospective website clients to explain what a CMS is, a Content Management System.

She went into great detail, outlining everything there is to know about CMSs. I how thorough she was. However, I and several others pointed out that it wasn’t suitable for clients.

She explained how databases work, with columns and rows and entry IDs. and how you can edit a database directly with tools such as phpMyAdmin. Then she explained how she builds a custom portal for each client that allows them to easily add, delete, and edit posts in the database.

And finally, she explained how the items in the database end up displaying on the web page. She even showed examples of the PHP code required to make it all happen.

Nothing was wrong with anything she presented, except that most of them are redundant to clients.

A client doesn’t need to know how databases work or how the info from the database ends up on a web page. All the client needs to know is their website will have a CMS with an easy-to-use interface allowing them to add, delete and edit the content of their site.

Remember, these are perspective clients. Meaning they haven’t committed to working with you yet. You don’t want to scare them away before they’ve had a chance to work with you. Donald Miller, the author of Building a StoryBrand, said it best. “If you confuse, you’ll lose.”

Consider your marketing message from a design client's perspective.

Let’s say you specialize in logo design, and you showcase your three-step process on your website.

Step 1) I start with a meeting. I have a list of over 50 questions I ask you, covering everything from how your company got started, to your mission, to where you see the future going. This allows me to get to know you and your business.

Step 2) I take the answers you gave me and start the research process. I take a close look at what your immediate competition is doing. I examine your industry as a whole to determine if there are any trends we may want to follow. I may conduct focus groups to learn more about what your clients think of you.

I then gather all this information and begin the concept stage, where I brainstorm and develop several different ideas.

I then narrow it down to the most promising ones and fine-tune them until I’m satisfied.

Step 3) I present you with the best ideas. If required, we then enter the revision process, where you are allowed three sets of revisions to tweak your logo until you are satisfied.

Once done, I’ll create a brand guide that outlines the rules for using your new logo and supply everything you’ll need in various file formats.

This shows a comprehensive process. And a designer may think this is perfect for showing the client why they’re worth the price they’re charging. However, it may have an adverse effect from a client’s point of view. “50 questions? I just want a logo for my new business. Why does it have to be so complicated? Maybe I should find another designer.”

Imagine a client’s perspective if they saw this on your website.

Here is my three-step process.

Step 1) I take the time to get to know you and your business.

Step 2) This is where the magic happens as I develop the perfect logo for your business.

Step 3) I present you with the best concepts for you to choose from. Don’t worry. You’ll be allowed to suggest minor adjustments to tweak the logo until you’re 100$ satisfied.

Now, this a client can understand. All the other information is redundant or can be relayed once the person becomes an actual client.

Presentation and mockups.

If you are not using mockups in your presentation, you are doing yourself and your clients a disservice. I can tell you from experience that mockups make a massive difference in a client’s decision-making process.

Many clients are not visual thinkers like designers are. Their creativity isn’t honed like ours to imagine how things will look in different situations. A logo presented on a white background doesn’t have the same effect as a logo shown on a storefront, a shirt or a vehicle.

A tri-fold brochure displayed flat may look good. But it doesn’t have the same oomph as a mockup showing what it looks like when partially folded.

I’ve had several clients over the years tell me they were hesitant about a logo design I presented until they saw the mockups. Once they saw the logo “in action,” they saw its full potential. That’s because clients often can’t picture it on their own. Asking them to imagine the logo on the side of a delivery van is nowhere near the same as showing them the logo on a delivery van.

When you prepare your presentations, thinking like a client can help you close more deals.

Showing confidence, a client's perspective.

You know the way you can sometimes tell when a person isn’t sure of themself. It’s offputting. Try to think about how you come across when dealing with clients. From the client's point of view, do you show confidence?

Think about it. As you’re pitching yourself to a potential client, They’re looking at you and considering whether or not you’re someone they want to work with. And that decision may have nothing to do with your actual pitch. From the client’s point of view, they want to see someone who shows confidence in themself and their ability to do the work.

You want every encounter with a potential client to end with the prospect thinking, “This is someone I want to work with.”

Let’s talk pricing from a client's perspective.

Once again, thinking from a client’s point of view. Are your prices too high or too low? Is a client willing to invest in you? There’s no right or wrong answer regarding how you price yourself. It comes down to the type of client you want to work with.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you’re in the mood to go out for a steak dinner. You can find a restaurant that serves a $20 steak. Or, you can go somewhere else and get a $200 steak. What’s the difference? The difference is how much you’re willing to spend on a steak.

People who opt for the $20 steak might never consider spending $200 for a similar meal. However, some people regularly go out for $200 steaks and would never consider a $20 cut of meat.

Now for all we know, both steaks came from the same cow. But that’s beside the point. The person who opts to spend $20 on a steak and the person who opts to pay $200 have two different mindsets. Neither is right or wrong in their decision. It’s just the way they are.

The same thing applies to design clients. Thinking again from their perspective. Most clients who consider Fiverr a good place to get designs made would probably never consider paying thousands of dollars for a freelancer. And there are just as many clients who are willing to spend thousands of dollars which would never consider ordering from a cheap designer.

So who are you marketing to? Do you want low-paying clients to say you’re their person? Or do you want high-paying clients to think you’re the perfect designer for them? Figure that out, and then target yourself to go after that group of clients. In this case, thinking like a client can help you land the clients you want.

I could go on and on about how thinking like a client can benefit you. But I think you get the idea. Most clients are not designers. They don’t think like designers, nor do they see the world around us the same way designers do. Don’t let that become a gap between you and them.

Before everything you do, ask yourself, “How would a client experience this?” And if you’re successful at doing this. There’s no reason why your design business shouldn’t be successful either.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at

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Resourceful Designer podcast intros are performed by the amazing Wayne Henderson of Wayne is available to help you with any voice-over work you require.