“Is the client always right?” I was considering this recently and it made me recall one of my earliest experiences working as a freelance designer. We were discussing the design and client was describing what she was looking for in regards to the color. She said she was looking for “vivid colors.” In my mind, colors like red, yellow, bright green came to mind. The colors you would find on a Macaw. I did the layout with those colors. Her feedback to the proposed design was that it was not what she had in mind. She said that she “wanted vivid colors…like beige.”

That was not what I was expecting to hear. No wonder I was way off. It goes to show you how much of design is subjective. My idea of vivid colors and the client’s were very different. I then asked her to send me an example of a website that used the vivid colors she had in mind that way I had a better understanding of what she wanted. She did and it was for a site that used earthy colors: sage greens, muted blues and beige. She was looking for earth tones and I had given her a tropical bird.

Oh well, that’s why there’s a proposed layout design phase. You don’t always get it right from the start. Sometimes you have to begin again. It’s why pencils have erasers. Neither of us was right or wrong. We had different definitions of what vivid colors were.

There have been instances when I haven’t been thrilled with some of the elements clients have wanted to incorporate. I always make it work even when it may not have been the color palette I would have chosen. I find the complimentary color that makes their choice look great. I strike the right balance between what the client wants and my own design sensibilities.

Some clients know what they want and a designer should know how to take those elements and turn them into a strong, cohesive design. As a designer, I might advise a client if I think that what they want may not work. Especially, if it interferes with readability. Is the client always right? No one can always be right, not even the client. What is most important is giving them the help they need and the design they want.