What Clients Don't Know (and Why It's Your Fault)

“Whether you work with outside clients or whether you’re part of an internal team your job is always, always going to include having to convince someone of something. Because your job isn’t just making things. Believe it or not, that’s the easy part. You’re going to spend 90% of your time convincing people that shit you thought up in the shower this morning is right. Your job is to figure out whether something should be made, how it’s made, and always, always, always work to convince someone that you’ve made the right choices.”

That’s a quote from Mike Monteiro’s presentation at the Event Apart Austin 2013 conference, a presentation that seems suited to system administrators, IT consultants, and IT professionals in general. Thing is, the presentation is actually talking to designers, about designers. But design is a client services business, just like IT, whether we act like it or not (often the client is just the organization itself). Us IT guys can definitely learn a thing or two from our design brethren, and watching this is a great start. To whet your appetite here’s three of the hundred or so points he makes:

  • “When you’re afraid to make [an argument] with your clients what you really are saying is that I think you’re too dumb to understand, and they are not! Put them at ease by letting them know that you not just going to do whatever they ask for. Clients need to know that you’re confident enough to not even let them screw up a project. Never work for somebody you can’t argue with. And definitely never work for somebody that you can’t say no to.”
  • “Design is the solution to a problem within a set of constraints. There is no bigger constraint that you have than your budget.”
  • “Make sure that you talk to everybody on their side, and always, always, as a professional courtesy, find out if there is another designer in the vicinity and announce yourself. That other designer is going to have a lot of valuable information for you, and projects go better when somebody isn’t feeling butthurt for being left out. And if you are that internal designer don’t be a jerk. Make the people from the outside your friends. Don’t make competing comps to show your boss behind their back… Crap like that helps no one and only serves to jeopardize the project.”

Watch it. Now. All of it. In HD. At work, because it’s 100% professional development, which we all need more of, and your boss didn’t have to send you to another state to get it. Then share the link.

What Clients Don’t Know (and Why It’s Your Fault) by Mike Monteiro – An Event Apart Austin from Jeffrey Zeldman on Vimeo.

Hat tip to Alex King.