5 things designers wish their clients from hell knew

Keira Bui
4 min readJul 9, 2013


The long, painful battle between graphic designers and clients never ends. There are lots of things designers want to say to their clients, but it seems they never say that directly to their clients (of course, who would?). After asking some of my fellow designers what they wish their clients from hell knew, I compile a list that would be useful if you are considering hiring a designer:

  1. Freelance ain’t free
Designed by Ena Bacanovic

Just because you hire freelance designers doesn’t mean they will work for free. That’s why you should never hold a design contest unless you want to waste your time and money. Crowdsourcing competitions only attract hobbyist designers, amateurs and designers who are not serious about their work. Most of the designs you get from the contests will be based on the designer’s personal tastes, not those of your targeted market. In contrast, a professional graphic designer will do research about your company, your competitors and the industry to make sure the design match your business goals and stand out from the rest.

Once again, don’t expect professional designers to invest time, energy and resources in working for free.

Designed by Pfahlert Creative Labs

Or even better:

Designed by Ams Design Studio

2. You get what you pay for

Designed by Colin Harman

Don’t expect to get a great and cheap graphic design done in half an hour. Enough said.

3. Designers are not mere tools (or Photoshop monkeys)

Designed by Daniel Levanon

After working as a freelance graphic designer for 5 years, I come to understand that some clients don’t know how to get the most out of their designers. For instance, when giving feedback, just voice your impression, like how that blue color makes you feel, and that you want a more feminine color. Tell your designer that you want a color that will attract female customers, but don’t say you want pink. Unless you have more years of training in graphic design than your designer, don’t tell him or her exactly what to do. Your designer who is packed with years of education, training and experience will know how to solve the problem based on your impression. Trust your designer more and you’ll be amazed with what he or she can come up with.

Fact is, designers don’t only know how to use graphics software, they know all the principles and elements of good design. If you don’t take advantage of that, you are throwing your money away.

Designed by Jennifer Farley

4. Less is more. Respect white space.

Designed byMark + Paddy

Uneducated clients tend to cram as much information as possible in a design. They are afraid that the lack of information would drive away customers, but in fact, what they really need is a design that stands out. Once the customer is interested, he or she would go to the company’s website to get more information. The era of passive consumer is long gone.

So why do you have to respect white space? There are numerous benefits, but in general, white space helps attract attention and creates elegant, sophisticated designs. Here are some very good articles in case you want to learn more about white space:

White space in web design
How white space improves readability
Why white space is good in graphic design

5. Hire those who believe what you believe

Designed by InkSurge

This is unrelated to graphic design but it’s a very interesting point indeed. I hope you can find a designer who looks at the same direction as you.


So that’s my guide on how NOT to be a client from hell. I know it’s not complete yet and would like to know what you all think. I’m always on Facebook / Twitter, or you can send me an email via my website.



Keira Bui

Keira is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. She loves books, ice cream and perfection.