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As a graphic designer, whether you are freelancing or employed by a design studio, a day will come when you will have to face clients. Most of the time, things should go fine, but some clients can be a pain to work with. Those rare bad customers play at least a positive role, they teach you to cherish the good and effective graphic design customers. But how do you identify effective customers? We’ll try to help you recognize them by underlining some traits good clients have in common.

The effective customer knows his role

This is probably the most important point, you client must stay away from all visual aspects of your work. Of course he should share his feelings and opinion about what he sees, but you are the graphic design professional and you should make it clear. On the other hand, your customer knows his industry better than you do, so you have to listen to whatever he has to say on that topic.

If he doesn’t see it that way, let your client know that you should be working like a team, each providing his knowledge and capabilities.

He gives you the copy and image on time

This happens all the time. Your client and yourself set a reasonable deadline, you make it clear that you need specific documents to get the work done and the documents arrive to you three days before the deadline. Guess what? Even though he is responsible for the late delivery, this type of client will complain that you don’t respect the deadlines. To avoid those complaints, send an email to your client where you specify when you need the working copy and images to get the work done on time. If he doesn’t send it to you, you will have a proof that you told him.

He is available and easy to contact

Some clients are just impossible to reach, they usually are the same that don’t give copy and images. If you call this client and he doesn’t answer, leave a message. If you send him an email, require a message opening confirmation. Ultimately, I would recommend not to work with these people if you have a choice. The lack of communication may not seem that important, but it is crucial and can ruin a working relationship, so make sure you are able to contact your client easily. Not getting answer is also a threat to your respect of deadlines.

He has some basic technical skills

When your client enters his URL in the Google search box to access his website, it will not hurt your working relationship. However, when he can’t send you heavy files, can not open the zip files you sent him or he sends you his logo embedded in a Word document, that will make your job harder.

This sounds a bit silly to mention, but your client’s lack of computer skills can cost a whole afternoon. It can also make a big difference in the way he approaches the work, as well as how he will understand your explanations about the creations you did for him. Believe me, not having to explain things over and over can save you a great deal of time.

He pays you on time

You did your work, your client is benefiting from fresh new designs, but you have to wait forever to get paid. Everyone hates this scenario, no exceptions. Usually, asking front payment for half or a third of the amount quoted will help you detect this kind of customers. If he doesn’t pay upfront, run away from this client. The client who pays you on time is great to deal with and really encourages you to be more productive and provide better service. He also show that he respects your work and understand its value.

He doesn’t obsess on the small details

Don’t get me wrong here, details are very important when it comes to graphic design. The problem is when you are dealing with a client that doesn’t know which details are important and focus on valueless little things. The client that spends two hours talking to you about how he wants the logo bigger when you are trying to explain him your color choices and how it will influence his brand can be very painful to deal with.

He understands that additional revisions need to be paid

When working on a project, it is easy to lose track of the work that was quoted and do more. Some customers will try to take advantage of that and will ask you for endless revisions and hope that you will not bill them for it. If you meet this kind of client you should always mention on time that you are doing work that’s not included in the quote. Hopefully, many clients understand what a quote is and pay you for extra-work.

He doesn’t change his mind all the time

The good customer is a good manager or boss, so he knows how to make a decision and won’t change it all the time. He knows what he wants so making business decisions regarding the proposed designs is not an issue for him. If you have to redesign a logo ten times for no other reasons than the changing tastes of your client, or worst, his wife’s opinion, then you are in trouble. When taking a design decision with your client, insist on the fact that changing his mind in the future will cost him more. If he understands that and accepts it, you will probably be on the right tracks to work with that person.

Does the perfect graphic design customer exist?

Of course he doesn’t, every one of your customers will have at least one of the faults mentioned above. However, don’t worry, no customer will have all of these bad habits, so if you take our advice on how to deal with these situations, you should not have too many problems working with your clients. And if you can’t stand one of your clients, keep in mind that you can always fire him if you are a freelancer.

Mirko Humbert is a graphic and web designer from Switzerland. When he’s not blogging at Designer Daily or Typography Daily, he installs WordPress for free.