5 things clients really want (but probably won't tell you)

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As many designers will tell you, positive word-of-mouth publicity is invaluable. You can have the best design portfolio around, but nothing will convinces prospective clients to get in touch more than a glowing review from a friend or colleague. Key to this is keeping your current clients happy. But how exactly?

The thing is this: clients typically won't tell you what they want. At least not out loud. They might hint at it or suggest it. But it's often up to you to read their minds. In this article we'll dive into the murky waters of deciphering clients, and reveal what it is they all really want.

01. To know they're not being ripped off

First and foremost, most clients want reassurance that their investment in design will be worth it. This is especially true if they are unfamiliar with how much design work usually costs. Itemise and explain everything you can, and never let them think that you're pulling the wool over their eyes.

02. To know you’re listening to their ideas

Many design clients like to feel part of the creative process, rather than merely passing over a brief and waiting for the solution. It can be illuminating and exciting, and it helps them to understand if costs escalate or deadlines are pushed back.

"Generally speaking, client-suggested design modifications are welcomed," says design director Clive Hilton. "More often than not they're implemented if we don't have fundamental reasons not to, which helps the client feel a direct sense of involvement and project ownership."

03. To see something truly brilliant

It goes without saying that any self-respecting client wants brilliant creative. But they also want patience, understanding and professionalism from you, even in the wake of multiple waves of tiny, fiddly amendments to the design.

04. To have their vision realised

A genuine willingness to understand and empathise with the design client's desires and challenges goes a long way. It's about fulfilling their brief in a way that's appropriate to their brand – not massaging your own design sensibilities.

05. To provide the best solution

You are being hired for your expertise in the field. Gather as much information as you can about the brief, but ultimately remember that you're there to provide solutions, not raise more questions.

Don't skip pre-brief discussions. These are a brilliant opportunity to ask questions and to really get to the heart of what your client wants.

This article was originally published in Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. 

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