What not to do as a Designer

What not to do as a designer

As young designers we’ve made our fair share of mistakes. Things that have made us stronger, smarter and more confident in dealing with situations and clients. Guess this is what experience is.

We’ve got over 12 years under our belt and we have dealt with all sorts of situations, non paying clients, trying to over do, working for free and what not! And whilst at that time it felt like it was normal, looking back now we wish someone had warned us of all these mistakes so we could either fix them or not make them all together. 

These are simple things that you know you have to and should do but you tend to make an exception for a friendly client or you think you’ve been doing this long enough and you know the drill. Just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean you don’t prevent it!

What not to do as a Designer

Lay it down 

Creating a Design BRIEF lays down the expectations, requirements, deliverables and budget. It’s your go to document. If you are working for multiple clients, you need to have these things organised to fall back on. A brief also comes handy when the client decides to go off track and starts to ask for something that was not initially discussed in the scope of work. And trust us, MOST clients do that. Learn how to Create a Design Brief here.

Sign that deal

Again one of those things that we never learnt in college. They might have mentioned the need for contract briefly, but never mentioned how important they are. When you work for a client and spend hours on research and design and getting it right for them, you want to make sure you are going to get paid. We’re not saying all clients are the same, but you WILL come across some that will run away half way into the project, try to negotiate or add more work to the scope discussed. This is where a CONTRACT comes in handy. A contract is also your back up, should a legal issue occur. Learn more about Why you need a Design Contract here.

Show me the money

We can’t emphasise on this point enough.. When we started off, we felt shy asking for money or nagging the client for the remaining payment. When writing a mail more than twice, we would apologise “for being a pain”. But excuse us, we spent mad hours doing the client’s work and when they needed changes, they didn’t feel sorry or shy or weird.. So why should we have to? 

After one big hit in the face with a client and a court case, we learnt to NEVER to deliver the products / designs / files to the client till the remaining sum was paid and cleared and in our account. There will be clients that show urgency due to launch of the brand etc. But that’s not your problem. The time line was mentioned in the brief and if they want it faster, they can pay faster (provided you are in a position to deliver of course). We usually go with 50% advance, 25% after approvals of the design and the remaining before the delivery of the final product / files. 

Jack of all traits

Stick to your passion and create a niche in your business. That way you target a certain demographic and avoid being in situations where your outcome is moderate as opposed to being excellent. It’s better to have an expertise in what you do than pulling strings from all ends.


Discounts are for rotting food in the super markets.. Not for Professional Designers. Your design prices are based on the hours you are likely to spend on a project, which includes time for meetings, research, designing and the files you are going to give to the client. Besides, a client that asks for discounts the first time is going to want a “deal” every time he comes to you. Option one is to not even work with a client that doesn’t understand your worth. But, if you feel that the project is good for the portfolio, then you can increase your prices and then negotiate a little to keep the client happy.

If you are just starting off as a designer, your rates are already lower than most agencies and freelancers.. So don’t feel that you need to do things for free, as this is your business not a charity!

We like to ask the client what their budget is before hand to avoid any negotiations.. But some clients are weird with that and prefer to beat around the bush to test you.

Don’t cheat!

There are many mockup ups and logos that you can buy online and modify to some extent to make a logo. If you are using one of those, you might as well be selling burgers in Mc. Donald, coz you’re not a designer! But then there are designers who will copy paste a logo from another part of the world, sell it to the client and call it “unique”. 

Firstly, starting your carrier on a false faith is no good for anyone. Secondly, you or your client can get in a lot of legal trouble as most brands are trademarked or have copyrights. Thirdly, don’t think that because you took “inspiration” from a logo in Spain that it will never be found. In this era of the internet and social media and online portfolios, you WILL be spotted, eventually!

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