How Many Design Concepts?

Design ConceptsI was recently asked by a client to provide multiple different design concepts (3) for the same website, yet this is something I haven’t done in years. I don’t have a problem with it, but in my opinion it’s the wrong way of doing things, and here’s why…

The way I see design, it’s all about educated decisions. From the very start of a project you will make numerous decisions and you will discount certain things based upon a combination of the current brief, your experiences from the past and what you believe is right for the project. Producing multiple varying visuals goes completely against this.

Putting myself in the clients shoes for a moment, were I to receive 3 different visuals from the same agency I would question it. It would send me the message that the designer/agency weren’t confident in their approach and trying to cover all their bases. I would question whether it was the best use of time and resources. If I’m paying someone to design something for me, I’m paying them to make these decisions and present me with their answer to the brief.

And finally… anyone who has submitted multiple design variations to a client in the past will know that inevitably the same thing will almost always happen. TheĀ  client will select elements from each of the designs submitted and ask you to put them together – something that you should have done in the first place.

If anyone out there has any interesting takes on this I’d love to hear them!



09 Feb 2009 10:32:38

Hi Dave,

I’ve been in a similar situation a few times – in my experience being approached by the client like that suggests a less than positive experience with a previous agency or designer and has nothing to base your working relationship on until you are quickly into the project.

Retaining the client and building trust and understanding seems to cut down on the red tape of multiple design options. As you’ve obviously experienced you quickly come to a working relationship where you can produce a tailored route and save the client time and money.


Neil Roebuck:

09 Feb 2009 12:53:54

I have to do this all the time and the inevitable always happens initally. The clients picks elements from all all or most of the options and the end result doesn’t always work. I agree with Edd in that it’s important to establish a good working relationship with the client(s) in order for them to understand what’s been produced and why (hey, we do things for a reason) but not only that, you (the designer) have to understand (from being briefed correctly and clearly) what it is the client is wanting. A bit of give and take is usually the best practice – usually!

Mark Rushworth:

22 Feb 2010 12:05:47

I only ever submit 1 design and go through the process, if it doesnt hit the mark then i go back and rething the goals of a project, the client gets billed for them all as i dont do spec work. usually the client doesnt really know what they want and if things prove too difficult then i take elements from the competitors and bastardize a site together… its not the best solution but sometimes clients dont want that, they want something they already know… sad but true.

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