Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Make It Pop" and Other Illustrated Designer Horrors

I came across a collection of posters designed to illustrate a few of the key things that we tend to hear in the industry, and was elated to not only enjoy an inspiring visual project, but to know that I'm not alone.

Created by Mark and Paddy of, this brightly colored, and inspiring collection of designs add visuals to the hilarious requests that some less-than-informed clients tend to ask. In an earlier post, I raved about the truth and genius of the comic How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell by the Oatmeal. In said comic, the point is clearly made that sometimes the client is not always right, and essentially needs a little direction in order to help you give them exactly what they need (and want).

My very favorite phrase to hear from a client while in a working session, or after presenting them a visual draft of their original request is the infamous, "Make It Pop." This is by far, one of the most frequent requests that most of my clients have at one point said to me, and each one meant something very different in the end.

As part of my recurring theme in this design blog, this highlight reel of feedback from individuals outside of the industry further enforces the need for accurate and efficient communication from the very beginning of the client-designer relationship.

"Yes, I hear that this isn't quite what you had in mind. Can you tell me more specifically what should 'pop,' and how? Perhaps if you had several examples of things that you find to have this specific 'pop' I could better understand what you're looking for."

This is usually a conversation that can either go one of two ways if not handled the right way. One - they realize that yes, the singular word "pop" needs to be elaborated on. No problem. Then they get excited to learn about the design process a little more, and may even find it a very fun process to see through the eyes of a designer. Or Two - they somehow take offense to you asking to be more specific, and have lost all respect for you as a designer for not being able to anticipate their needs, or know exactly what they were talking about in the first place. The later of those clients are given a fond farewell and are wished good luck in finding a psychic as opposed to a visual designer. There's not much you can do for them that's within budget.
Sample of gallery

All reminiscing aside, the collection includes over 70 unique styles of illustration and graphic design applied to each phrase. Reading through them all, it's a mixed emotion of sadness for the designer having to handle this type of challenge, and joy that this was turned into something so creative and inspiring. Hearing some of these in real life (even out of context) inherently makes my skin crawl at times, but as long as it's seen as an opportunity to educate someone on how to better communicate in design, the experience can be a valuable one for both parties.

This has even inspired me, and the next goldmine of a comment I get will become an illustration for my personal collection. Thank you Mark and Paddy.

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