Are you making your clients look like Hilary Clinton?

October 13th, 2010

Not that there is anything wrong with looking like Hilary. But short blonde bobs are a pretty safe bet and won’t get many oohs and ahhs on the red carpet. If you’re watching the bobs roll out like on an assembly line at your hair salon – perhaps it’s time to fire your stylist. The same applies to designers. Too many tired drop shadows, turned up corners and bubbles are grounds for immediate dismissal. We all do it because we know it’s a sure thing, but too much of it is a creative cop out. Eventually these safe design options will lead to the client going elsewhere for more innovative work.

I have a rule which works for me. I will use one, maybe two of these designs elements within a fresh layout that includes lots of original visuals elements. Ideas for the visuals are pulled from the client Info Gathering phase – as a result clients tend to respond positively when they see their input taken seriously. Especially when the work is moving in a great direction. At this stage I think it’s important to get other colleagues involved – getting their feedback is super important. Make sure every element serves a purpose; even if it’s just pointing the way.

Finally, sometimes it’s a good thing to have a client go away. It can be very liberating. When you’re creating a couple of boring landing pages every month that always look more or less the same and bring in a safe, dependable amount of money, it’s hard to let it go. Especially in these times. However I’ve found that when this happens, almost immediately something new comes in its place 100 Xs more creative and fun.

Ready to move forward on a big project and the client has disappeared?

September 3rd, 2010

Sound familiar? You’ve had two face to face meetings with a client for a majorly exciting giant project. You have a verbal agreement on the estimate and the project scope in place. The client indicated he wanted to start ASAP. You’ve got the contract ready to be signed. In short, you’re ready but the client has disappeared, gone underground, gone fishing. You’ve emailed, left voice mails with no response and it’s a week later. What to do – continue reaching out or give the client a long hiatus?

Fortunately most business people are savvy and upfront; they don’t want to waste your time or theirs so they get back to you one way or the other quickly. But there are others who for some reason, staying on top of things is difficult; they get bogged down or sidetracked easily. So in this case the best thing to do is to be patient. Still continue reaching out on a regular basis by letting the client know that you’re looking forward to working with her/him. Or keep things fresh by continuing to contribute critical info on the project – more solutions, ideas and options. For example you can say something like this in an email to the client: “I’ve done some research on various opensource CMS options and I’d love to chat with you on a solution that would work…” Don’t lose hope; people are super busy right now. This approach has worked for me many times and gotten even the most elusive clients back on track.

On the other hand, there are people that get cold feet, are in limbo, or decide to go with another company – they’re just not comfortable dealing with these awkward situations. In this case you can continue reaching out – calling a couple of times a week with a follow-up email. But after 2 – 3 weeks, I’d just add their info to the DB and move on. The most important thing to take note of about this scenario is not to get angry at them – or waste any time fretting over what could have been OR applying First Aid to the ego by telling yourself that they made a big mistake by not engaging you. Just preserve your energy by moving on to the next great adventure.

The last scenario is where the client has actually disappeared. If you’re lucky, eventually you’ll find out what happened. I had a client who took off to Thailand – he was never heard of again. Good for me – it happened in the beginning.

3 mini vacation escapes

July 14th, 2010

During the work day, I take a break with travel/nature pics. It’s like a short vacation. Here are a few taken during July. Lake Jenkinson has several islands in the middle, easy to swim to and be totally alone. Visit steamy Shimo in Tokyo, with its people landscape.

Lake Jenkinson in Placer county California

Shimo in Tokyo

Hot rain in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Northern California coastline in summer