Show Me Wild and Crazy

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I recently got a request from a client who asked me for a design that was wild and crazy; something that no one has ever seen before.

Every time I hear this it boggles my mind and unfortunately I hear it every few months. I have three questions that instantly come to mind.

What have they seen?

I spend all day on the Internet researching new designs and styles and have been doing so for the past six years. I guarantee I have seen more “wild and crazy” sites than my clients ever will, but I have to start somewhere. This can be very difficult because you need to look at the personality of your client. What kind of sites are they viewing? This hopefully will help determine the level of craziness they have seen. If your client is a business man who mainly uses his computer for Word or PowerPoint and occasionally peruses the country club website then you can be fairly sure that their level of interactive excitement is minimal. On the other hand, if your client has referenced a lot of UK designers that tend to push the envelope when it comes to designing on the web, then you know you need to step it up.

Whose definition of wild and crazy?

Is the client’s idea of wild and crazy bright colors throughout the design that are hard to read on a computer screen, 3-D elements that make the design feel alive, or random tattoo-style art that makes usability and semantics a bit tricky? None of these can be determined by "create something wild and crazy." I have in my mind what I consider wild and crazy, but that might not be what the client has in mind.

This type of direction can easily be the most misconstrued concept of the entire project. Even when issues are simple, they can be misunderstood when two people are discussing subjective matter. When a client and I look at a page discussing the color blue, what they see as dark blue might not be the same color I see. As a designer, I tend to analyze color more deeply. The dark blue that the client sees might be more of a deep purple to me. Without specific examples that we are both looking at, anything subjective can easily turn into multiple revisions.

Are they bold enough to approve the design?

Different or unusual designs are always good, they bring the level of design up and encourage people to approach things with a new perspective. The hardest part about designing something that is different and unusual isn’t the design work but having the client approve it. Since they have never seen a design like it, they can't compare it to anything so they have a hard time approving it. They can't say, "This company did it and their marketing is through the roof, so we want to be like them." Designing a wild and crazy site means that you need a client that isn't afraid to go their own way, or have enough foresight to see the big picture. Nine times out of ten when a client asks me for a wild site they can't handle it and they decide to go back to something that they've seen before. You don't get to be a company like Apple by following someone else's marketing plan.

Finishing touches

The majority of this battle is selling the design to the client. Unfortunately there are no easy, step-by-step instructions for this. Obviously you need to know what you're talking about as a designer; there are definitely ways to present with professionalism. Explain why you put everything where it is and why it's going to work. You need to help the client see your vision in order for them to agree with it.

I am in the middle of this pickle right now and I'm still not sure how it's going to turn out. Luckily, in my situation the company isn’t going to have to survive on this one marketing piece so a lot of the pressure of them deciding on one design is taken away. I will be sure to post again when this project is complete. If anyone has any insight or bits of inspiration I’m all ears.

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