10 things you should never say to a designer

Stay calm and don’t hit anybody; we’ve collected up ten of the most inflammatory phrases for designers, guaranteed to send even the most patient flying into a rage. Take a deep breath and read on… if you dare!

1. Can you design my…(for free)?

Asking a doctor friend to give you a free consultation or a befriended chef to give you that three course menu for free seems pretty ridiculous to most. Why doesn’t this logic apply to designers?


2. I’ve got an idea for a design

When you are commissioning someone to build your house, you don’t tell the builder: “I have got an idea for a roof”. You hire an architect, tell her what kind of house you like and she’ll design it for you. That’s the point: you are not an architect, you are the client. A good descriptive brief is what we need – leave the ideas to us. 


3. The target audience is male and female, age 0 and up

See point above, no clear brief – no clear result. It is as simple as that. 


4. I like it but where is the rest?

If you’d asked for more, there would be more. Oh I see, you have changed your mind and now you want to add product X, Y and Z to the postcards too? 


5. Can we have the layered files? We just want to make few little changes ourselves

This is an old favourite, and one that most designers have been asked by their clients. The idea is for the client to be able to play around with the files until the end result looks a bit like scrambled eggs on soggy toast. If you want me to change something, just ask – the last thing I want is to have my name attached to something that is not 100% original.



6. Can you add more baby images? I heard they really work well

Why yes I can, I can also add images of cute kittens rhythmically moving their heads up and down and a Dalmatian wearing a pink scarf.


7. I’ll know what I want when I see it

This implies that rather than thinking about what you actually want, you want me to go off and keep designing new versions until one magically connects with your previously unknown yearnings? See how silly it actually sounds when I put it this way?


8. We don't have any content yet. Can you just design my wedding stationery and we'll put it in later?

Of course, no problemo. No content, no copy, no colour scheme, no theme, no idea who to invite. In fact, you are not even sure who you will marry yet, but could you please design some wedding invitations? I’ll start your stationery design right away. I have no clue what will come out – maybe I’ll use pink elephants or have little tassels attached to each invitation? I could do the whole thing in shades of grey, maybe even 50 if I can find the time.

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” — Jeffrey Zeldman

9. X, Y and Z have completed how it works, so can you make it look pretty?

Design is often an afterthought but seldom is it made more apparent as when they tell you to “make it look pretty” after it has been conceived. Design is so much more than just a beautiful wrapper.



10. How about we go back to the first design? I quite liked it.

This is one that tests even the most patient of designers. After dozens of iterations, changes, improvements and tweaks you are telling me my original suggestion was the best?


Whether you’ve come up against any of these or not, here at we try to make ordering as simple and stress free as possible, so you go grey a little later in life. If you’ve come up against any of these or have some new gripes you’d like to add to the list? Drop a comment in the box below and let us know!



03 Jul 2014 11:46
Number 10, agghhhh!

I also get people who want to stick a ridiculous amount of diamante on after they are finished!
'I like a bit of sparkle can you add some here and here oh and here' Yeah I can but remember its a wedding invitation not Dolly Parton's stage costume ;)
David Brookes
03 Jul 2014 12:38
Ha Ha I love this. I have had a customer who has done number 10 to me this morning!!! :-( AGGHHHHHH
Tinashe Mudoti
03 Jul 2014 13:11
try work with three directors who have different ideas.....
Lauren Parker
04 Jul 2014 11:32
haha this is brilliant!

Number 5 is the most annoying for me! gah!!
melissa Morley
05 Jul 2014 15:28
number 10 really winds me up... at the end of the day we do know what we are doing and thats why they always go back to the first design!!
08 Jul 2014 08:41
Ha ha – number 5. (I'm laughing yet it's so insulting!) Love the pic that goes with this ; )
Adam Smith
08 Jul 2014 09:43
This is so funny and so true. We're always discussing this in-house to try to make our communication with clients more efficient.
08 Jul 2014 10:29
Great list although I disagree with point number 2. I'm happy for the client to have an input but I will be clear if I feel it doesn't work!

Number 7 is a pain! Please refer to the design brief you completed.
Victoria Page
09 Jul 2014 11:12
Haha 8 for me... please can you design scotch mist.. just bear in mind we'll want to add some more scotch mist later!
Ian McNeil
10 Jul 2014 10:33
This is great! I've lost count the amount of times i've heard number 4.
Alex Wilkie
11 Jul 2014 09:17
the easy way round is
"it's my interpretation of your vision"

The customer is always.......misguided
Daniel Saunders
16 Jul 2014 15:46
Number 1 is what most clients seem to expect
jill cham
18 Jul 2014 11:02
people do always say 1 .. if it is an interesting project and give lots of freedom I dont mind tho...
Sam Patterson
28 Apr 2016 10:33
Number one with my friends. My response: "I wouldn't ask you to tile my bathroom for free would I mate."
30 Nov 2016 12:38
lol! a few of these ring true ;)
26 Jan 2017 16:06
i've heard 1 a few times too!

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