5 Minute Read

Design 101: How to Translate Client Feedback

Having design skills aren’t the only thing you’ll need in this career path. When you start working with clients, you’ll realize you need to understand the language we call “Client-Speak.” Yes, if you’re a seasoned designer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether you may have seen the 72 Hilarious Posters of Real Design Feedback from Clients or not, I’m here to help you learn this foreign language or at least help you learn how to decipher it.

client feedback

Above, you’ll see one of my favorite experiences with client feedback that I’ve made into my own poster. Let’s get you fluent in this language by translating these 3 frequently common remarks I’ve personally ran into.


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“Can we make it look like Apple?”

client feedback

You’ll soon learn that EVERYONE wants to be like Apple. Over the past few years, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard a client request this. Before you roll your eyes, understand that it’s not Apple they want to be like — it’s the style. Try using thin, sans serif fonts, lots of white space, crisp and clean devices or device mockups and allowing designs to appear minimalistic. THIS is what they are trying to tell you in most cases.


“I’ll know when I see it.”

client feedback

Here’s one feedback remark that’s almost impossible to work off of. When they tell you they’ll “know when they see it,” you need to stop while you’re ahead and ask for more direction. Try asking for an inspire image they are thinking of so you can get their designs right, the first time. If you don’t ask for more direction or an inspire image, you’re setting yourself up for countless rounds of feedback and frustration on both sides of the fence. Don’t waste your time, and don’t waste theirs. After all, they sought you out and are paying you for your services.


“Make it pop!

client feedback

You know, I first heard “make it pop” in my art history classes. What does it mean? It’s such a vague and broad term. Just like “I’ll know when I see it,” this is something you’ll have to ask your client to be more specific with. Though commonly it usually means just adding some effects like drop shadows, a higher contrast in hierarchy or something to make the design more eye-catching or unique, it’s better just to ask. Designers aren’t magicians, and no one believes in the same definition of “pop.” It’s better to be safe than sorry, so just ask them for more details!


Understanding “Client-Speak” is a skill you’ll need to master as a graphic designer… if you want to keep your sanity. If they want you to “make it look like Apple,” give them a minimalistic design with thin sans serif fonts, white space and crisp and clean devices and device mockups. I’m sure some day when you send your designs to your clients they will tell you they will “know” when they “see it,” or ask you to be a magician and “make it pop!” The truth of the matter is that while yes all of these remarks are funny, your clients work just as hard at the jobs that they do too and they might not know exactly how to tell you what they’re thinking of. It’s okay. Take a deep breath, listen and think about what they might be asking by putting yourself in their shoes. If all else fails and you have no idea what they mean, there’s no harm in asking for more direction or taking a simple phone call. Sometimes it only takes the client sending you an image of their inspiration to get the job done.

Pro tip: Send them multiple options when possible (ex. smaller projects such as logo design, mockups, simple graphics, etc.) so they can narrow the project down faster.