How To Deal With Clients Who Think They Can Design Better Than You

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Imagine this:

A group of people sat around Picasso while he is painting and keep giving advice to him on the colours or textures or how to make the painting feel more alive.

What do you think Picasso will feel?

No designer likes to be told by someone else on how to design “creatively”. In this post, we, as a web design company in Singapore, will share with you a few approaches to deal with clients who think they know about design. It applies to all creative professionals in all sorts of design industries.

Clients Who Think They Are Better Designers Than You

These kind of clients are actually very common, especially in Singapore. They will (almost) always send an email to us on their feedbacks on our design draft. As a designer, you might not be perfect but your objective is always been trying to deliver to the best of your ability and you take a lot of pride in all the work you do. So when such an email comes, it will hurt every single time, even if you know it’s coming.

Sending the design draft to a client for approval is probably the most stressful process for a designer. Like asking your first crush out on a Valentine’s Day date, sending the design draft requires a great courage to click on the send button. That’s why it hurts so much when you finally get a negative reply.

Below is an example of a typical reply from such clients:


Dear Designer,

Thank you for sending us the first design draft to us. We have went through it with our team and below are our list of changes:

  1. We like the colours used, but is it possible to incorporate more blue here and there? Maybe on the white areas?
  2. Can we change to a different font that is friendlier? The website needs to seem approachable. Can also try having a bigger font and increase the gap between each line.
  3. Do you feel that the triangles used are too big? Maybe you can try adjusting the size according to your judgement.
  4. The navigation menu seems very wordy, maybe we can try a vertical navigation menu?


(Disclaimer: All change comments above are fictitious. Any resemblance to real situations is purely coincidental.)

This is just the beginning of more change comments to come. If you read this, you most probably doubt if you are still a designer in this project.

3 Approaches To Deal With Clients Who Think They Are Designers

1. Learn To Recognise The Traits Of Such Clients

Sometimes to avoid getting into such a problematic situation is to avoid it altogether. Learn to filter out the bad apples and you can reduce the chance of hitting one. You can create a checklist to identify the prospects’ traits based on the first meeting discussion. There are a lot of similar tell-tale signs that you can pick up from all the past problematic clients.

You can also set a clear guidelines upfront on the terms that you can tolerate and what you won’t. Also put these terms into your contract and get the clients to sign on it.

2. Learn To Relax

It’s easy for a designer to feel offended when someone points out something they don’t like about his or her design. But being angry won’t solve the problem at all. In fact, it might make it worse.

You need to take the feedbacks less serious and one way to do it is to convince the fact they these clients are designers in their previous life and laugh about it. If you take all rebuttal too seriously, then you will eventually give up on your passion.

Try to explain to the clients on the decision you have made on the design and do your best to respect their feedbacks.

3. Heart-to-Heart Talk

If the client is still constantly bringing new design ideas and revisions to the table, maybe it is a good time to sit down with your client to raise up your concerns and hoping that they will put some faith in your expertise.

Most of the time, the ideas look great in their heads but once it is laid out, they will understand that it was a bad idea in the first place.


As long as there are clients and designers, these situations will always happen. Clients always think that they are the one paying and they should have the final say regardless if they have any relevant expertise.

As designers, we often despise such clients, but in all fairness, the clients just want the best possible result for the money they have invested on. It is our responsibilities to educate them along the way to achieve a happy ending.

If you have a better approach, feel free do share with us in the comments below!

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