Email Responses #1: Workflow & Client Education

Note: I’m going to start posting some of my email responses to people here on my blog. I think a lot of people’s questions are valuable and think they’re worthy of a broader discussion. And I hope the advice I’m giving is generally useful.

The first correspondence comes from a attendee of a conference I recently spoke at. I was talking about atomic design and how our multi-device reality necessitates a change in process and workflow. Here’s their question:

You mentioned how Front End should be implicated from the beginning of a design process if not before. At the same time, you have to do the style tiles with the designer and so on. My question is in regards to educating the client. They are used to the process of infinite psd change workflow. How do you go about educating them of this new workflow?

How you go about educating a client really depends on the client. Generally speaking, I think it’s important to bring up why this process change is needed in the first place. I’ve found these three images to really help get the point across and help get them excited for change rather than to fear it.

It’s also important to help clients understand that design is more than aesthetics (the Steve Jobs quote is always a winner). Design includes aesthetics sure, but it also includes performance, clarity, intuition, ergonomics, etc. That’s more ammo for why a change of process is absolutely necessary.

It’s also helpful to talk money, and have a discussion about why infinite psd changes waste time, money, talent, and resources. At the end of the day, Photoshop comps and other abstractions are not the final product. The sooner you can get into a more realistic environment (read: the browser), the sooner you can demonstrate all those other important aspects of design (For example you can’t mock up performance in Photoshop).

If all that rationale fails, a swift punch to the gut can go a long way.

Hope this helps a bit, and good luck convincing your clients!