Members share Project & Client Management Tips in RGD Virtual Community for Solo Designers
Noah Ortmann RGD
, Freelance Graphic Designer, shares notes from the Solo Designers community gathering!
RGD Virtual Communities
bring together Members working in similar areas and/or who face a particular set of challenges to share knowledge, discuss experiences, propose solutions and support each other. The RGD Solo Designers Community
is composed of freelance and independent designers and meets virtually every two months. The group is led by Noah Ortmann RGD
and Nicole Duncan RGD
Here are Noah's notes from the group's last meeting:
When Design Projects Go Bad
A design project gone bad can be especially difficult for solo designers, as they often take full responsibility for maintaining, organizing or sometimes ending client relationships. At our last virtual meeting, our group discussed strategies to prevent projects from going bad and how to better cope when they do.
Keep the Project Moving
Clients are busy, their priorities can change and they get lots of emails. It’s important to remember this when a project stalls or your client disappears for a while. Rather than get frustrated and assume the client is no longer interested, remember that you’re the project manager — you’ve got to keep the project moving. One Member recommended sending a friendly reminder of the project status with a copy of your last communication to ensure you’re both on the same page. While a design project may be a top priority for the designer, it might be one of several other priorities for the client.
Contracts are essential to have in place before a project begins. They set expectations for both sides. Ideally the contract is a backup when all else fails — it isn’t a substitution for a good client relationship. One Member likes to reference the RGD’s Code of Ethics
in her contract as a “professional guidance” clause. This helps to ensure they are not forced to do anything that breaks industry standards.
In terms of payment, a Member reminded the group to always get a deposit up front before starting a project. When you’re chasing a payment, be persistent — especially if there has been a personnel change within your clients’ organization.
Clients who break their own brand guidelines
When you’re a solo designer working with a big client, you can sometimes be the last line of defense in maintaining brand consistency. There are many voices in a large organization that can come with different interpretations of their own brand guidelines. Our group discussed ways to steer a large client away from going rogue.
Champion Brand Consistency
The brand is the client’s story to tell. Helping them remember that every piece of design is part of a bigger story can keep them on track. Off-brand designs can be less recognizable to stakeholders or customers and the design may not present the client as a global leader in their field.
In cases where the client has insisted on their ideas being implemented, one of our Members created two versions of the design for review — one off-brand and one following brand guidelines. Having the two versions in front of the client, possibly in context with other on-brand company materials, is a good way to reiterate the importance of consistency. In addition, explaining to the client that multiple design versions or revisions equals more time and more money can be a strong deterrent from playing around with brand standards.
Asking the client why they wanted to go off-brand or what they were trying to achieve are great questions to get at the underlying reasons behind a client’s push to not follow their own company’s brand standards. Once you get at those reasons, there’s likely other ways to solve those problems while remaining on-brand.
Members share experiences in RGD Virtual Community for Designers in Municipalties