How to stop client from art directing?

I’ve had the problem with several clients that they want to tell me exactly what to do when designing. I’ll come up with some concepts, they like one, but then they proceed to directly tell me: change this image, move that to the right, change this color, etc. All of these changes ruin everything they liked about the original design, and of course, it ends up looking very unprofessional.

How do I effectively communicate that that behavior is counterproductive to their product/company? I am here to solve their design problems, and they make me jump through hoops with making the changes they want (and usually when they get them, they say, Oh, that’s not working…) Would it be advisable to say something like, “Tell me what problems you have, and leave the design solution to me”?

Some background info: I have made several designs for my client that they have liked, and I feel like they do value my work since they are keeping me busy. However, lately I am starting to feel disrespected by their requests for changes because the changes do not seem to be coming from an actual need, but more because Bob in Sales thinks the logo should be centered. I’ve tried the normal diplomatic approaches and explaining why things work the way they do (easier to read, target audience likes this look, this way conveys/highlights our core message, etc.), with varying success. I would love to hear your experiences, especially if you have successfully dealt with this situation.

EDIT: Not a dupe, I read the other post. I’ll rephrase my question: how have you successfully dealt with stopping a client from art directing? Not, why should I suck it up when the client is art directing?

EDIT 2: The thumbprint client info, while related, is not what my question is. I am interested to know: has anyone successfully stopped a client from art directing? If so, what kind of communication did you specifically use?

The other posts that people think are dupes have answers that relate to A) taking it and dealing with it B) walking away from the client as a last resort. These are not the things I am asking about.

Note: I did see a video of a well-known designer who mentioned he does not allow his clients to art direct and had to stop a client from doing so (he did not elaborate).


Engage your client in your thinking process and ask challenging questions.

I don’t know what kind of things you create, but since design is all about solving problems (and making it look good as well) the focus should be on a solution for the problem. Example:

Client: I want a very big blue button. And the image should be on the

You: I see. What is the problem that we are solving?

Client: Eh.. People will notice the button if it’s big, and I like blue.

You: Yes they will notice the button, but the main action of the user of this page is to find XX and the blue big button will draw all the attention and distract the user from their main goal. We should place the button on another page in order to help users complete that particular task.

And the brand style guide of your company defines two types of buttons: a red one (main) and a white ghost button (secondary actions). Let’s stick to the brand colors to keep consistency in your branding. That way it’s recognizable for users.

Client: Ok.. What about the image?

You: Well, the image draws a lot of attention but is only a supporting image in this case. I think we should give it a less prominent place, so the attention will be drawn to your very important offer, promoted on this page.

Client: Oh great, I really want the user to see that offer. We can place the image somewhere else.

This is just an example. Help your clients to focus on the goal of the users and their owns goal as well. Is a big blue button really helping to complete your clients goal?

I deal with this issues as well and it can be super frustrating if clients just want something that they think looks nice. And even after trying to engage them, a week later they send a feedback request with: I like the icon but it should be orange. And sometimes I compromise, because it’s your client and you should choose your battles. It can also help to send them a link with ‘proof’ that supports your reasoning. Or examples from some common, well-known websites where the problem is solved well.

Help them deliver problems to you, instead of solutions.

Source : Link , Question Author : TCDesigner , Answer Author : Luchadora

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