One of the frustrations designers often face is the misunderstanding from clients of the design process. Often it's not about the importance of design that is lost, but the technical aspects of execution.
Jumping to Conclusions
They may ask for something to be "made editable" without understanding what you need to make that happen or if it's even a good idea. Or, demand that you use Publisher 2003 to create a menu for their restaurant, because it's all they know of. Maybe it's because they want to be able to edit it later and they have Publisher 2003. But, if you dig a little deeper in discussions with them, you may find that they didn't even realize there were other options. Those options could include more modern software. Another option may be a long term relationship with a designer to make updates (which will require layout and formatting changes through the entire piece).
Be the Pro
Most times these situations need upfront, in-depth discussions. This is where your professionalism comes in. Find out more of the "whys" and have honest explanations before you just shut down and feel misunderstood. If the individual is completely set in their ways or doesn't want to work with you then I highly recommend not work with them if you have a choice. As Sean McCabe says There are no clients from hell, only designers from hell (who take them on). Many times, you may be surprised with a relieved client who is even more excited to work with you. Now, they feel even more confident in your ability to do what's best for their future.
In a situation where you're freelancing or working in an agency setting, you can be sure to have a lot of discussions early on. Before you even set up a working relationship - later a contract - (because you wouldn't work without one, ever) these understandings can be present.
Another common situation is working in-house. When your boss tells you to do something a certain way after you're hired, it could be awkward to address. It will feel that way if you don't have the confidence to speak professionally about your craft. Educating yourself and others is important for the business you work for, and you owe it to your team to uncover the best solutions.
Something that can be helpful but is rarely on your mind during the interview process is asking about process and internal clients. It's easy to focus on what you're getting paid, what you'll be creating, and to talk about similar work you've done. But there are even broader ways to focus on connecting you as a fit for the position.
- How would someone in this position receive design requests?
- How often does the team revisit processes?
- How are deadlines handled?
- Who (as in position, not their actual name) has final say?
- What software would be available to use. Is the team open to exploring new tools over time?
- What hardware is available for this position?
- Are there opportunities for educating our clients? For learning about and experiencing their problems to serve them better?
- Ask about company goals and values - this is huge to uncover your fit with company culture. Don't underestimate culture's ability to make or break your happiness with a job - regardless of how excellent their name may look on your resume.
- Ask how their leaders fit design into their business direction.
Not only will these questions be incredibly helpful for you to evaluate a proper fit in a team, but the interviewer will know your level of professionalism and feel even more confident in your valuation of design. It can also help you uncover a leader's actual actions when it comes to educating others. If they won't go to bat for the process, you may have problems down the road.