Review of “You’re my favorite client”

The perfect gift for every client, boss, and product manager

I put a lot of stickies in this bad boy

I am a big fan of Mike Monteiro at Mule Design in San Francisco. I’ve had the pleasure to see him speak at An Event Apart, and his book, Design is a Job, came into my life at the absolute perfect time. I had just started my freelancing business and was desperate for the candid advice it offered. As soon as I finished that book I added You’re my favorite client to my shopping cart with every intention to read it as soon as it arrived in my mail box. But then, of course, life happened (as it often does).

One of my main clients was acquired, I found out I was pregnant with my second kid, and I promptly started worrying about money. This led to me accepting a full-time position with a local company and putting my freelance business on the back burner for awhile. I am considerably less worried about money now.

But I *was* worried that You’re my favorite client wouldn’t hold the same magic for me now that I am doing minimal client work. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This book provides guidance to any product owner or design client on how to best manage and involve themselves in the design process. It includes strategies on how to hire designers, how to evaluate designers, how to provide good feedback, and how to make sure you’re not that guy with the constant “swoop and poop” of random opinions on things that don’t matter.

I especially appreciate Monteiro’s advice on how to nurture a positive design environment, and make sure your designer feels comfortable enough to try new ideas. Take a look at his advice on the importance of trust:

“You need to grant your designer the space the need to create good work. Give enough trust and freedom so they can try ideas that push boundaries without fear of losing their job. A designer who’s in constant fear will solve problems in the safest, least challenging way possible. They feel they don’t have the safest necessary support to innovate or try directions that may fail. In other words, they do boring work. Make sure your designer seems secure.” (p. 56)

And, as always, Monteiro is funny. Check out his strategies on getting candid, honest, feedback:

“I’ll tell you a secret. I do most of my testing by grabbing people who’re on the way to the bathroom. I say, ‘Hey, can you look at this real quick?’ They’re stressed out with a full bladder and don’t have time to putz around, which means they need to make a fast decision. They’re also less likely to be nice, because I’m keeping them from peeing.” (p. 68)

By the end of this book I had composed a long list of people I wanted to buy it for, including my current boss. (The fact that Monteiro uses analogies from basketball practice is icing on the cake, considering that my new boss is a 6'5" fan of all things basketball.) I would also recommend this book for any product owner who is interested in learning more about the business of design, or any designer who is looking for ways to better communicate with their clients.

Bookclub questions

What are some of your strategies to managing the client-designer relationship?

What’s the one thing you wish your boss/client/manager understood about the design process?