When I studied graphic design, teachers always repeated us that we should justify our designs. Every time we presented a project we  had a list of justifications; we were selling the design to the teacher.

Why we used certain typography, the colors, the size of the pictures and so on.

When we started working, naturally we did the same with our clients. The first time I presented a work for a freelance job I prepared my justifications but it didn’t feel right. Anyway I started my presentation explaining why certain design elements were there, why the font selected, etc, etc.

But I realized that the client was not really interested, he didn’t like the design, he didn’t care of all my rhetoric, and I didn’t get what he wanted. The result:  I had to start the design all over again and the client was really upset.

And that day I learned a great lesson: NEVER, NEVER sell your design.

In the first stages of your design process you should listen to your client, you should have crystal clear what he desires. If you listened them, and you stayed true to their communication desires:


It is very important to understand perfectly the clients desires and objectives of the design. The client should be able to look at the design and understand it, you should stay quiet, answering client questions and taking notes of every doubt and question.

Then you should take these notes and refine the design bringing you closer to the client expectations.

Remember that the client knows his product much better than you and he has been exposed to design all his life (TV, magazines, etc) so he really knows what he wants.

Resist the temptation of selling a “great Design” and better translate the client’s desires to a solution to the problem originally proposed:

  • How can we establish a design that meets the client’s purpose?
  • Remember the design process:
  • without a reason or a purpose, there is no design.
  • The clients are paying you to communicate their message so the best way to sell a design it’s not selling it.

The customer should feel that you read his mind; the design should be so fantastic, that the customer has no choice but to buy the design

Designers are facilitators, not products or brands unto themselves. You are a backstage worker. When you do your work well, you become transparent. Your work has to stand alone without any explanation or props. It’s not that you can’t bring your insights to this work; you just have to put your client’s objectives ahead of your ego.

– The Design Method- Erik Karjaluoto

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How to “sell” your designs to clients

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Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero