Client: I’m really not vibing with any part of this website.
Me: What's the problem?
Client: I don't like the copy.
Me: That's placeholder copy. What's the problem with the design?
Client: I dunno. Just not feeling it.
I worked with a client who did business coaching, designing their promotional materials and such. They were nice enough, but I have to admit - if they were good at business, I never saw it. It seemed to me that they were mostly good at throwing around buzzwords and self-help. That was fine for me, usually, but one time they gave me a full blast of nonsense:
Client: This really isn't good enough. I'm not getting "passion," I'm not getting "commitment to values." I want the design to really speak to excellence, to disruption, to transforming industries. I want this design to change someone's life.
I added red to the palette and sent it back.
Client: Perfect! I'm so glad you heard me.
Client: That isn't working for me.
Me: Okay, what don't you like?
Client: I don't know. I just don't like it.
Me: Is there anything about the design that you do like, that I can zero in on and expand?
Client: I'm not sure. It's not BAD, I just don't like it.
Me: Do you have an example of another design that you like that I can take a look at?
Client: No, I don't really pay attention to this stuff.
Client: I don't know. Try to come up with something.
We've been working with this client for a couple of months and things have just not been the smoothest. We ask them questions but they get annoyed that we do. We ask them to send us examples, they ignore me. All they say is "we are not designers, we don't know what we want until we see it." And it also seems that giving us information to their thoughts equate to telling us exactly what they want or doing our job for us.
Me: If you don't know what you want, we won't know what you want.
Client: Maybe we haven't made it clear to you what our vision is at the beginning.
Me: Can you help me understand your vision again? I believe you all have mentioned a few times to us that you did not know what you want.
Client: Okay, let's not get into a he-said-she-said situation. Just so we are aligned, can you tell me what your vision for us is?
I did my best to present my understanding of what they wanted. They shrugged: "maybe."