Creativity Magazine

Sometimes You Gotta Ask For Directions

By Mrstrongest @mrstrongarm

Yes, sometimes you have to stop and ask for directions.

Even when you’re dead, apparently…

cadaver lost, roaming around city morgue, can't find proper cold storage drawer he should be in, consulting directory sign on wall

You Gotta Ask

A good designer (illustrator, contractor) always asks for directions.

No, wait, I take that back.

They always ask questions.

If they don’t, the client should hear alarm bells, and head for the door.

Not even the most informed client can think of everything in advance. He’s looking
for a collaborator– a specialist– an expert.

And the expert (designer, illustrator, contractor) can’t act without first assessing the client’s problem.

If a client can’t (or won’t) answer questions, the designer should be the one hearing
the alarm bells. It means the client isn’t fully invested in solving his own problem.


Why It Pays

Asking for “directions” (asking questions) pays off. How? Here’s my short list:

  1. determines credibility (both sides): no questions/sketchy answers => trouble ahead
  2. inspires confidence: designer is seeking a clear understanding of client’s problem
  3. determines whether it’s a good job match => if designer is right person for the job
  4. clarifies the scope of the project, and narrows the focus
  5. determines if the client has a budget for the project (or given it any thought)
  6. allows the designer to demonstrate his expertise (or lack of it)
  7. gives the designer the opportunity to clarify the value he or she can provide
  8. sets a certain tone– hopefully, a spirit of collaboration and mutual commitment
  9. it’s a chance for the designer and the client to learn each other’s language
  10. in reflecting on the exchange, one or both parties may think of other questions
  11. helps clarify options designer can offer (we can do A or B or C), so client has a choice
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In Conclusion

Oh– there’s one more reason why it’s smart to ask for directions:

Because it’s embarrassing to be seen wandering around, looking for your drawers… : )

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detail image cadaver lost, roaming around city morgue, can't find proper cold storage drawer he should be in, consulting directory sign on wall

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If you’re a freelancer, do you have a standard list of questions you ask a new client?

If you hire freelancers, have you ever backed off because someone did not ask questions?

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