Your Client Does Not Know More than You

Posted on by Chris

I read an article on Six Revisions today on the subject of a designer’s perceived arrogance versus the client’s better knowledge of their business. It could have been a good article; it had some very valid points, but it was completely spoiled by setting up the most egregious straw man it’s ever been my misfortune to read.

“What if your dermatologist refuses to prescribe you any medication because you’re beautiful the way you are?”

This is a deeply false analogy – the correct counterpart to this in the field of design would be the designer designing according to his own personal preferences of colour and typography, and we already know that’s unprofessional.

We, the dermatologists, refuse to prescribe medication that’s contraindicated by the patient’s symptoms and medical history. If the patient disagrees with our professional opinion they are perfectly free to consult another physician for a second opinion. if that physician is less principled than ourselves he may give the patient exactly what they want – in this situation, I think we can all agree who is at fault. The patient may be making specific demands, but these can only be made from a position of relative ignorance. Note that I do not say absolute ignorance; that would be the perceived arrogance on the part of designers which the article seeks to combat – but the relative ignorance that comes of having experience of their own symptoms without the requisite medical expertise to treat them.

The Responsible Physician

It is our responsibility as “physicians” to discover as much as we can about the “patient” and their symptoms, to use our experience and training to come to our best diagnosis. It is not the act of a responsible physician to countenance self-diagnosis on the part of our patients, and bowing to that self-diagnosis in the face of pressure from the patient is at best deeply irresponsible, at worst unethical.

The medical profession is highly regulated and mechanisms exist to disallow unethical practitioners from continuing to practise. The design industry has no such regulation; the actions of unethical practitioners can continue to bring the profession as a whole into disrepute.

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One Response to Your Client Does Not Know More than You

  1. Thanks for the comments, but I think you missed the point. I’d rebuttal back, but what you brought up was covered already in my follow up comments if you read through them.

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