I’m sure that most of us designers out there have had at least a few clients that seem to continuously ask you for revisions. These projects seem to go on devastatingly slow as the client proceeds to ask for one more thing after another. This is extremely frustrating as a designer and it can be a complete waste of your valuable time and energy. It can happen with any design project including logo designs, business card designs and even something seemingly simple as stationery design. So, how to you stop it? This can be a very slippery slop as you try to eliminate excessive client revisions while still keeping your client happy in the long run. However, you can do it and here are a few tips to help you get on your way.
Set reasonably time frames for projects
Let’s say for example that you get a request from a client for a new logo design. Don’t underestimate how much time this project is going to take. Consider the time that you will spend on the project (brainstorming, creating and revising) as well as the importance of the project for your client.
Remember that a logo is a symbol that will represent a person’s company for years and that it isn’t something that can be rushed. A new logo design is much more involved than a business card design with an already existing logo.
Be patient and don’t rush projects. If you set unrealistic goals and expectations for a project then you will become frustrated and annoyed with every client request. Make sure that you set reasonable time frames for your projects that include time for client revisions. A good rule of thumb that I follow is to take the time that you estimate for a project and multiply it by two. If I follow this formula, I am usually able to complete a project within my expected time frame including client revisions.
Clearly educate your client about revisions, what is included and what is not, BEFORE your project begins.
In your first meeting with a new client you should outline the specific steps involved in your collaborative project. Explain to your client that revisions are an essential step in the design process and that there will be specific times when revisions will be needed and requested. Let them know that when it comes time for revisions, you will give them a few days to think about what they would like changed before you make the actual changes. For example, if you are working on a logo design project, you would send your client your first four new logo ideas for feedback. Give your clients a week to respond to you with their feedback. Do not sit back down at your design table until you have given your client a full week to think about their desired changes to their logo. Often, clients will need more than one email and more than one day to think about what they really want in their logo design.
Once you have received their feedback, you will then reiterate these requested changes back to them before you get started on the actual revisions. This is the end of the first revision step. Make sure to clearly define and discuss with your client how many revisions will be included in each project. Explain to your client what constitutes an extra revision and how much each extra revision will cost.
Constantly communicate with your client and let them know where you are in the design process
As your project proceeds, be sure to regularly update your client as to where you are within that project. Keep your client in the loop as you proceed through each step of the design project. Knowing exactly where you are, what you are doing and what is expected of them will eliminate a lot of confusion along the way. This is also a great way to continuously convey your professionalism and expertise throughout the project.
There is a great and easy way to do this without being too in-your-face with your client. How? In the subject line of your emails, be sure to outline the current step that you are in. For example, when you send an email back to your client with your clients first logo revisions, the subject line should say something to the effect of “1st logo revisions out of 3”. That way, the client is clearly reminded that they have only 3 revisions included in this particular logo design project.
Be flexible and don’t be afraid to put a stop to revisions if need be
Inevitably, you will have clients that ask for more revisions than you specified in your initial quote. Consider these requests carefully and remember that it is important to show some flexibility. If you say no every small request, you will come off as if you are unprofessional and that you are just in it for the money. Sometimes, it is ok to give your client a little bit more but be very careful. If your client is asking for more major revisions, there comes a point where you definitely need to put your foot down. You can do this quite easily and in a very non-offending way by again explaining to your client that there were a set number of revisions included in your project quote and that these new revisions are extra revisions that will have to be billed separately.
Good luck and remember that managing client relationships is tough. However, with a little practice and a set design process, it does get easier.