Web Design

50 Annoying Things Clients Say to Graphic Designers

By September 30, 2013 26 Comments

I might be running a web design company these days, but I’ll never forget my roots as a solo graphic designer.

I’ve had a heap of great clients, but I’ll never forget the frustrating ones who always had crazy requests. I always did my best to keep them happy, but in the end I’ve realised the best policy to really silly requests is just to say ‘hell no!’.

I’ve asked around the Web123 office to compile a list of annoying things we’ve heard from often well-meaning clients, and I’ve thrown in some of my own too.

Here are the top 50 annoying things we’ve heard…

  1. “Can you make it look like this, but better?”
  2. “Can you start this straight away? I need it 5pm. No really, it’s urgent.”
  3. “But my target market is everybody.”
  4. “Can you bold and underline all the text so it stands out?”
  5. “Hey great logo, now can you just throw in an awesome slogan too?”
  6. “I don’t really have a design idea yet, but can you tell me how much it would cost?”
  7. “Why is there all this wasted real estate on the brochure?”
  8. “I need you to highlight it without drawing too much attention.”
  9. “Can you make it really modern, with a retro flair?”
  10. “Can you just make the black a little lighter? Not grey though, just a lighter black.”
  11. “I love the logo, but can you just make it pop a bit more?”
  12. “Hmm, I like the design, but can you just make it more professional?”
  13. “I need more polka-dots.”
  14. “I know it’s gone to print, but can we just make one more change?”
  15. “I don’t know what I want yet, but it isn’t that.”
  16. “Why can’t you just use all the styling from my Word document?”
  17. “Can you just make my logo a little bigger? Nope, bigger again. Like to fill that whole area there, that should do it.”
  18. “Hey I’ve got Photoshop, should I just do the design and then you make it more professional?”
  19. “I really like the colour, but can you change it?”
  20. “You’ve done what I asked, thanks, but it doesn’t make me feel that floaty feeling I was hoping it would.”
  21. “Why don’t you give me 5 different looks and if I like them, I’ll pay.”
  22. “What do you mean fonts cost money?”
  23. “Why are you writing everything in another language?!”
  24. “I’m the target market, and I don’t like it.”
  25. “That dog on the banner doesn’t look like my dog at all.”
  26. “Can you turn this around in Photoshop so we can see the front better?”
  27. “Would there be a discount if I design it first in Paint?”
  28. “Why are you charging me for 10 mock-ups? I’m only paying for the design I want.”
  29. “I’m a happy person so I want rainbow colours in my banner.”
  30. “I’m not sure that a light bulb icon really represents an idea.”
  31. “Sorry my invoice is late… can I have a discount IF I pay?”
  32. “Can you put a bird on it?”
  33. “Can you just save my website as a PDF so everyone here can review and comment before it goes live?”
  34. “Please just use Comic Sans. We need it look ‘fun’.”
  35. “Why are you charging me for a whole redesign? It was just a fresh mock up with new colors.”
  36. “Can you reduce the design of the website, it doesn’t fit on my notebook?”
  37. “Great design, love it all, can you come to our office for feedback?”
  38. “Can’t you just Photoshop it?”
  39. “Love the design, it’s perfect, but can you change it?”
  40. “I’ve just contracted another designer to work on your designs. Can you just send me all your working files?”
  41. “I want the screen to shake every time you click on a news item.. so it’s like earth shattering news!”
  42. “Can I see your work in progress so far?”
  43. “Tell you what, let’s start again from scratch.”
  44. “Why is your invoice so high? I could’ve gotten it cheaper on Elance.”
  45. “Can you copy my competitor’s brochure exactly, but make it different?”
  46. “Can you choose different pet pictures? They’re not sexy enough.”
  47. “You haven’t put enough design in it.”
  48. “Your PowerPoint presentation looks too PowerPointy.”
  49. “No pressure, but I need it ASAP.”
  50. “Can you just {{anything!!!!}}.”

Got your own stories of crazy client requests? I’d love you to add your experiences by commenting down below!

Until next time,

 Bianca Board

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Author Bianca Board

After 20 years inspiring more than 10,000 designers and small business owners to take control of their business, Bianca is now spearheading Foxley, a brand spanking new SaaS platform for designers. She is deeply passionate about helping distil the complexities of running a web design business - to make it easier for all designers to make the leap from designer to design entrepreneur. She’s a translator of web jargon, a lead generation master, a champion for small businesses and you can Google her brain for endless strategies on how to transform your business.

More posts by Bianca Board
  • Comic Sans. Enough said 😉

  • Bahahaha do they even still dare ask for Comic Sans?

    Not sure if you saw this that I posted the other day on Facebook, but it’s hilarious…

  • Paul

    If I had $5 for every time a client has asked me if they can have their logo made bigger and larger I would be retired by now ! – Dont get me wrong, logos are important but they should not take up the whole banner on a website !!!

    • Ahh the age old problem of ‘make my logo bigger’. I’ll never understand why so many clients believe a massive logo will get more sales!

  • NUMBER 50!!!

    I hate the word “just”. It’s not a magic word that makes the huge thing you want easy! ARGH!

    • I just thought… hang on, you mean it isn’t a magic word??

  • Ben

    HAHA! I have heard all too much of these. Also, when they ask for “more pizzazz” is also a winner. That one comes up a bit too often.

    • Pizzazz, hmm. I think that means starbursts and GIF sparkles… right?

  • Dylan

    Being new to the industry I’m still hearing these as they come. “Your PowerPoint presentation looks too PowerPointy.” <—– This is by far my favourite from the list!

  • Liam

    Just reading these is making the headaches come back, especially Number 46. Sexy Pets is just wrong.

  • honey rose

    This is hilarious! oh thank goodness i did not become a graphic designer! This would do my head in completely!

    I work as a florist and these are my favourite requests:

    “Can I have something in bright pastel colours?” (bright or pastel? hmmmm….)

    “I want it to look traditional, you know- modern?” (ok…… so……yes…….)

    “It needs to have the WOW factor” (what on earth IS the wow factor?)

    “Can you make it look really beautiful, it needs to look really beautiful” (like….normally we do ugly but for only special requests we do beautiful!)

    “Can you hurry up I am double parked down the street with my baby in the car” (grrrrr)

    “I need you to deliver this by 2pm” (at 1.55pm)

    “You just pick flowers from your backyard, why are they so expensive?” (hahaha!)

    “Just put some of that white stuff in it” (that would be baby’s breath?)

    “What, greenery costs extra? Why? It’s just leaves” (yes and of course I grow this in my backyard forest also)

    “That delivery fee is so expensive!” (have you bought petrol lately?)

    “Can I have a discount- I know the owner of the business” (???)

    “I’ll do my wedding flowers myself, I want it to look like it was just picked from a garden!”

    Hey, maybe it’s really not that different to graphic design after all………. 🙂

    • Haha, sounds like you’ve got the same problem Honey Rose. It must be a creative thing. At least you can ‘accidentally’ leave a few thorns in their rose bouquet. The best us designers can do is type a microscopic ‘FU!’ somewhere in their logo… not that I’d ever do such a thing!!

  • Eric

    Haha, love this list. I still believe one day when I have a spare couple of thousand (the dream!) this is going to become my exact list of things to say to a design who I get to design me a logo (and website, I assume they can do both for a couple of thousand yeah?).

    I will get my payback on the design industry for all the times I have had an amazing request from a client… one day I will get my revenge, one day… mwahahahahaha

    • Oh noooo, you’re not going to become… an evil client!!??

  • Lliam

    Regardless of the medium whether it’s design, website development or in my case Video & Photographic work for clients you are always going to get those people who are hell bent on asking for something that sounded good in their head after a long day but in practice is just going to hurt their business! Clients will say some of the most ridiculous things sometimes but again you just have to remember that to them it’s not ridiculous and it’s important that they feel heard. Even in my case when Chris & I spoke to Web123 about getting our site designed we were listened to and our brief was met to our expectations and then some!

    The point is that when you’re running your own business you are expected to be the expert and sometimes that means that you are going to have to sometimes tell your clients that their idea isn’t going to work for them. When a client comes to me and say’s hey we want this video to have all these bells and whistles on it or create these off the wall photos for their marketing collateral that have nothing to do with their brand or the message they are trying to convey we just sit them down and explain to them (politely) that it won’t work for reasons X,Y,Z and then find a better way of creating what they are trying to achieve or move on to something that will work better for them.

    There’s nothing wrong with taking the stance that you’re in the know as that’s what your clients are coming to you for. They will absolutely appreciate your honesty and by listening to them and explaining why their idea is not necessarily the best option they will feel valued.

    In saying that here’s the silliest thing i’ve ever been told by a potential customer:

    “Can you photoshop the Directors face so that he looks slightly more masculine and authorative? Maybe also shave a few years off him as well or maybe even make him look older as old people are more impressive!”

    Hmmm… my answer might not be the best thing to publish here but i’m sure you can guess my advice against this.

    Bianca do you reckon you can add your two cents to this one haha?

  • James

    Absolutely love this list. I don’t think there is a comment on here I haven’t heard at one time or another. The 2 that I always remember getting while I was studying were “You should just be grateful that I am getting you to do my job so it can go in your portfolio” and “I won’t pay you this time but I promise that I will refer all of my friends to you when they need something done”.

    It took me a long time to come to realise that people will take advantage of you and stretch the working relationship as far as it will go just to save a few dollars!

    • Sarah Adirondack

      Yeah, it took me a long time to realize that I can say no to people who are cheapskates and don’t want to pay for the work I do. And why is it that clients want work now, but when it comes time for payment, they take over a month to get you paid?

  • Kahli

    Quite a few classics here! Although my favourite would have to be “I love the design, but can you do another 5 or 6 and come back to me with them all?”. Then they go ahead and choose the first design anyway..

    • Sarah Adirondack

      That’s when I say absolutely not, unless you want to pay $50-$100 for each design. I think someone needs to illustrate a Design Etiquette chart to give to clients before they do graphic design for them. People can be completely clueless.

  • I once had a client ask for the black background of a design to be more black. It was #000000 in Photoshop… it wasn’t getting any blacker!

    In the end, all I did was resave the file under a new name (blacker-design.png) and sent it back to them.

    The client? He responded with “Ah that’s much better! I told you it would be better with an even blacker background.” Yeah… you sure told me dum-dum.

  • i had someone say to me “can you animate my logo?” we did it anyway! sometimes its just easier to give it up and we did it in such a way that it didn’t impact on the page loading time too much

    tell me someone didn’t actually ask you for sexy pets though? wtf

  • Brett

    Arrgh! These lists NEVER EVER get old! They are perfect for stories later on.. Thought one for that me that pops up time and time though has to be “can you just do this for me – it’ll only take you 2 minutes” and we all know it’ll end up taking several hours later and they usually end up just wanting it changed back!!!

  • Sarah Adirondack

    I just recently worked on a web design project and this older woman ; about 65 decided to announce that she was head of the project AFTER we did the actual coded website; the younger people in the office loved the design, but this woman was not satisfied until she had interjected her fabulous design ideas. I went 100 miles to their job site to take photography for free for them and her comment was “the photos are too artistic!” After she had completely obliterated the clean design; I gave up trying to do anything of marketing value for the customer, did her changes and made sure she paid us before uploading the now crappy website. She had her new HR manager trying to demand we upload the site before payment was received. We said NO ABSOLUTELY NOT and waited until we got a Paypal payment to upload the site, then made them sign an agreement that said after the site files are released we are not entitled to do anymore work for them. Just recently their HR manager tried asking us to make changes to a file. Thanks goodness they were made to sign the agreement. I ignored their email.

  • Sarah Adirondack

    I had a client tell me the design wasn’t sexy enough. I e-mailed her back asking what that even meant. She didn’t answer me, so I sent her an ad with a seductive woman in a bikini photoshopped into the ad design and asked her if that’s what she was wanting. Needless to say, she didn’t ask for sexy design any longer. LOL.

  • jabberjibbers

    Hilarious!

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