One Small Change
Published in: Design
Published in: Design
Every designer or developer has heard it before. The project is complete and the client is happy… “except…” says the client, “I have one small change”. We smile, and say “no problem” knowing that the profitability of this project has just gone down the drain. One small change for the client is often one large headache for the designer.
For the most part, the stuff I put here in my notebook is read by potential clients. Readers of that persuasion might say, “Damn Christopher, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot by complaining about client behavior”. To the contrary, I am not complaining, but taking an opportunity to provide a smidge of education to the population in need of design services. It is my belief that phrases like “One small change” and “It shouldn’t take long” permeate the nightmares of designers and developers because we have failed to communicate the subtle intricacies of the services we provide.
Not that discussing the details of the design process is ever an easy thing to do. All the finer points of our craft are generally TMI for client types. Of course that is why they pay, so that they don’t have to know. Ultimately that is the point. If you are a client-to-be, be aware of limitations in your knowledge of design and development, weather it be print or for the web. Small changes are never really that small. Design projects are often like a fine game of Jenga. All the elements are stacked carefully in place to support each other. One small change can have a butterfly effect that requires a certain level of compensation throughout the design in order to support the adjustment. One small change can quickly accumulate into numerous small changes in the background so that the whole project doesn’t come crashing down around you.
Its the nature of the beast. And small changes need to happen. But the nightmare side of the equation is that “small change” is generally code for “I don’t want to pay for this”. And for a lot of designers, fear of losing the relationship leads to sucking it up and doing the work. And when designers suck it up and do the work, it sets a precedence that ultimately devalues our craft as a whole.
In the end, it is necessary to understand that last minute changes are time intensive endeavors. The additional hours required to make what might seem to be a minor adjustment from an outside perspective could turn a successful project into an exercise in building resentment. If you ever find yourself uttering the words, “one small change” to your partner in creativity, remember that they, like you, are just trying to get by in the world. Be prepared to compensate them for additional time you are asking them to invest.