and produce great results for my clients too…

After a roller-coaster of a year, cash flow is finally starting to even off in my fledgling business “Fuzzbox Designs Ltd”. It’s a time for reflection on what has made my first year in business successful.

Having a coffee the other day, with some fellow business women, one of the ladies said to me, “You seem to “get” (intuitively know) what people want”. So I reflected on what she said, to see what makes that happen for me.

Most of the time, the first indication I get from a client is a piece of paper like in the image above. It’s a brief (‘scuse the pun) email, or a piece of whatever is lying around used in a creative manner (especially for my music clients, but that’s what I love about them) or a short phone call with a sometimes equally short deadline attached to it.

What I love about working with clients, is getting to know their businesses, their foibles, their likes and dislikes and their motivations. To me, this is a big part of the design process. I go into the customer’s business and talk to them in their environment, using my eyes to look at how they manage their workspace, listening to how they speak and phrase things, looking at how they present themselves personally and gaining a feel for the business. It takes all your design senses to work that out.

Being a freelancer I work alone and don’t have a large team to bounce my ideas off so it’s all down to me to work out what my client wants and needs for their website or graphic design. It’s like being a translator of thoughts into imagery, and that can take a large amount of collaboration with the client.

Sometimes a client doesn’t know what they want, sometimes they have a strong opinion (which doesn’t always tally up with what the business is about). I have strong creative ideas. Having strong ideas is part of being a designer. In the process, we have to find some kind of equilibrium between us and in finding that, we are able to create the look that they require for marketing their business.

It takes collaboration, sometimes with many backwards and forwards movements with the design but what comes out of that process is something magical and quite often great business relationships are cemented through that process. The payoff for both of us is huge, I want them to come back and bring repeat business (and recommendations) and they know they have a designer that takes the time to be their business partner in all things visual.

At first my clients seem to get embarrassed by the amount of time it takes to get something right or about the number of tweaks and edits it takes, but for me this is part of the process. It’s about creating the right visual story for them and providing something that I am proud to add to my portfolio. I can only guess that in the past, they have had substandard relationships with designers and that those designers have been hard to move once they have an idea.

On a business course I did last year, we had a speaker called Ron Mark (New Zealand First MP) whose recommendation that you didn’t take on an accountant or banker if they weren’t interested in your business struck a chord within me. I would say that this is especially true of designers too. They are creating the face of your business.

To me, good design is about synergy on many levels and I take pride in the testimonials that mention that I am easy to deal with. Business is hard enough without having to fight the people that are meant to be on your side.

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