Would you compromise your design and how far should you go?

I am pretty sure that most of us here, or at least those do graphic design for living, have found themselves in following situation:

  • You agree with a client to do the design, agree on price, schedules, formats etc…
  • You work hard, make adjustments, collaborate with client; everything goes well in the beginning.
  • At some point you realise that the client does not listen your professional advice regarding design and prefers his/her own ideas that might not look so professional (choice of fonts, colors, odd choices of elements, shapes etc…).
  • No matter how hard you try, the client is persistent and will not accept the designer’s advice.
  • You get back to work, try to make the best out of it, and the final result is not so good, mainly because you had to stick to the client’s wishes.
  • Work is shipped, payment done, and you don’t want to include this work in your portfolio because it is not good. After all, it is not your work, it is something that was physically created by you as a designer, but the ideas, concept, story, and message came out as a result of nonprofessional person, your client.

Ok, they pay for it, and as long as they are happy this is fine. But, the more compromises you make, the more time you spend working on bad design. If you are a young designer on a quest to get recognition, you don’t want to work just for the sake of money and then face the lack of good design in your portfolio.

Maybe at the beginning of your career you don’t care that much, but later if life this might be a big issue. At some point you will be approached by a big client that might offer you long-term contract, but first they will want to see your work. No point explaining to them what you did and why you made so many compromises.

They will not be interested in that.

Every project is precious as your time and you want to do use it wisely and produce great work.

How would you deal with such a situation?


I’m a software engineer turned manager, but the same question could be posed with little modification in my world. Others have already said similar things, but I’ll add an answer as much to underscore the point as anything.

The very core of a business relationship is to provide product for remuneration. Every person must decide upon their own boundaries as to what the acceptable mix between creative freedom and what a client deems remunerable will suit them.

As to your portfolio, why not add it? Much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the impact of your work. If it is something you consider utter trash or detrimental to landing the contract, perhaps that’s a line not to cross. But part of the hiring process is to explain your work, victories and lessons learned from less than victorious outcomes. And sometimes the more outlier situations are the ones that get you noticed.

Let’s say you include a design that didn’t suit your artistic sensibilities. If it was a success, you’ve demonstrated that your ego doesn’t override your desire to get meaningful work done and in being able to do so success was achieved. If the work fell short, you’ve still demonstrated cooperation. Underscore why you made the points you did and why the results of your decision would’ve led to a more positive result.

Now let’s say I have three software engineers in for an interview. The first two are solid and embody those two cases, i.e. one can speak of successful compromises while the second has some examples where he stood up for his architectural design but was overruled and it fell short. The third case looks very strong on paper and is unflinching in his conviction to design very solid systems.

The first two could make the second round of interviews. The third will be thanked for his time.

Source : Link , Question Author : Goran , Answer Author : John Spiegel

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