Designers' Etiquette

Keeping clients involved

Getting a new client is very exciting. At Orange Snowman we strive to keep this excitement alive by focusing on the designer/client relationship prior to the actual design work taking place. Here are five strategies we use to keep clients happy. We find that when our client is involved with the project, it helps us align our team efforts, so that we are all pulling in the same direction. This also helps our client gain a better understanding of our work’s challenges and complexities. When our client is able to see the design process up close, it helps them to better appreciate and understand our efforts.

We listen to our clients

Nobody likes being ignored. When we are designing for a client, it is important to carefully and actively listen to them and what they are saying. When we say careful, active listening this is what we mean:

  • We try to meet in person or via video conferencing, because there are certain things that we can discern from the tone of voice someone uses and, if we are sitting with our client face to face, we can make an evaluation of their body language and learn more about how they feel.
  • We look for more than merely what our client’s personal preferences are. Whenever our client is talking, there is a good chance they will tell us important things about their brand, their competition and the way they operate their business.

We stay in contact

At times we can get wrapped up in our work, for example, if we are in a design activity that requires full concentration and no interruptions, that would be a time we may not be able to take your call. If we don’t answer, please leave a message. We prefer to call our clients back with something intelligent to say rather than being blind-sided by the news. If we need to travel or be indisposed, we will inform our client ahead of time.

We provide our client with checkups and updates on a regular basis, we keep our client informed of our progress.

We establish a friendly playful environment

When we say playful, we don’t mean chaotic or responsible. Playfulness is the ability to suspend judgment and being open-minded to possible surprising answers. We don’t have to plan social outings with a client or become Facebook friends, but showing our clients goodwill and an eagerness to go out of our way to help them is part of who we are. We strive to demonstrate to clients our genuine enthusiasm and energy towards our work. Our intentions, to be playful and professional at the same time.

We strive to find common values with our client, particularly if we are going to working together on a long term basis. These values could be:

  • our desire to become better entrepreneurs
  • empathy towards the customer
  • being the best version of who we can be
  • fitness and eating healthy
  • meditation
  • travel & life hacking

We use our active listening skills to see if we share some of our passions. It can be a good stress reliever to take a break to discuss the ‘little things’, but it also gives we the chance to get a better gauge on our client. That way we will be better prepared once business talks have started up again.

We recommend that our client discussions take place away from the office. It can be a great idea to meet over coffee or lunch and give a nice change of scenery as well. It gives us a chance to be more at ease. People have a tendency to remember others who are particularly nice as well as those who are really rude to them. Of course we know which end of that spectrum we want to be on.

We should not be afraid of saying “No”

As our above slideshow “who is the boss?” illustrates some customers believe “the customer is always right.” However, that doesn’t mean we should have to take anything a client dishes out. There are times when it is to both parties benefit for there to be an honest “no.” If we say ‘no” expect a clear explanation as to the why of our thinking.

The very last thing that we want to end up agreeing to is a business proposal or idea that we shouldn’t or can’t do. When we get roped into a project because we weren’t brave enough to say “no” it can frequently lead to substandard design work, unhappy designers, unhappy clients, frustration and resentment.

If we find that we need to say “no,” make sure we do in such a way that it doesn’t appear to be too forceful. Make sure to explain why we have to say “no,” and provide other solutions or alternatives to the issue.


Enhancing the relationships that we have with our clients doesn’t really take a lot. However, it doesn’t take a lot to damage them either, so make sure we are deliberate and careful with our clients. Be sure to treat our clients how we would like to be treated, and act like the rock star designer we would want to work with if we were the client.

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