Our first ProDev lunch was kicked off with Mike Monteiro, the co-founder and design director behind Mule Design, offering a fresh perspective on client relationships and giving us an opportunity to fix everything that is wrong in design; ourselves.
What Clients Don’t Know (And Why It’s Your Fault) is a talk directed towards designers, and starts by kicking you right in the teeth, blaming you, the entitled designer, for the shortcomings of your clients.
Mike takes us through his journey in a little San Francisco bike shop where he was looking to buy a new bike, but had no idea what he was doing and was intimidated by all of the choices. Just as he was about to leave the shop in frustration, a friendly salesperson came to his rescue. She showed him empathy, educated him, explained everything about the different types of bikes, and ultimately brought him all the way to the right fit, and sold him a (very expensive) bike. The moral of the story? It all comes down to empathy, something that many designers are sorely lacking.
The talk shifts focus from here, touching on the disconnect that designers and clients often suffer from. How else will a client know as much as you know about the design process if you don’t explain it to them?
“Put yourself in your client’s less stylish shoes,” Monteiro says, and get used to explaining things to them. “It’s part of your job.”
Mike moves on, telling us that “eye-rolling is not a design skill”, and if we want to be able to influence the decision making process, we need to assert ourselves and know that it’s our responsibility to educate our clients about the WHY behind our opinions. There’s no other way.
Finally, Mike brings up his most poignant point of view yet. No client is born a good client, and it’s our job to teach them. Everything that goes wrong in your dealings with clients is somehow your fault. There’s some good news though: when you accept that everything is your fault, you have the power to fix it!