In this week’s episode we discuss how to get out of your own head and see the wider picture. In design, it can be really easy to get blinked in your work, but it’s so crucial to get inside the head of your clients and those people experiencing your design work. This week we look exactly at how to do that, and ultimately how to make yourself a better designer in the process.

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Meet Your Hosts

The Honest Designers Show started when our founder Tom found he was regularly chatting and sharing tips with top designers; Ian Barnard, Lisa Glanz and Dustin Lee. We soon organised a weekly call where we would help each other with areas we were struggling with and try to give each other actionable feedback. Soon we realised that the collective experience of the group was proving so valuable for each of us, that we thought ‘why not share these conversations with the world?’.

And so, The Honest Designers Show was born! This podcast is an insight into how to succeed in the creative industry, as well as giving you a totally transparent, under the hood look at some of the tougher, less glamorous hurdles to overcome! We also tend to get a little goofy along the way, so this is a chance to get to know each of us a little better :). We’ve loved recording this show for you, and we hope that you find value and enjoyment in listening to it.


Please find full show notes for this episode below:

[1:00] This week we talk all about putting yourself in your client’s shoes
[2:30] The hosts are teasing Dustin about mentioning his Instagram profile @heydustinlee which is doing very well
[3:00] It doesn’t matter how good your work is if you don’t have any customers interested in it
[4:00] Getting so caught up in your work that you end up missing the client’s brief
[5:00] Assuming that everyone else can understand your vision
[6:00] When you want to highlight so much of your work that your portfolio ends up looking busy
[7:30] When Tom was doing art at school and created portraits, he focused on the individual details, which he drew really nice, but then forgot to consider how the design will look as a whole
[9:15] There is a process that you could follow to avoid this
[10:00] The hosts emphasize on the need of thinking ahead and proper planning your work
[10:30] When designers forget that end customers need to be able and read the text
[11:00] Great design is invisible and this applies to movie editing, it’s unnoticeable
[11:50] Dustin’s example of self-serve frozen yogurt counters, with such badly designed store that makes it hard for people to know which way they need to go
[13:50] Consider your audience before planning
[14:30] Ian’s clients usually have a mood board of style examples they like
[15:30] He prefers clients which narrow it down for him, and this allows him to be more creative
[17:00] Ian’s analogy of drawing a mountain – you start with the bigger part at the bottom. The best way to work is to put a lot of work with the right direction and then make smaller tweaks at the end
[17:50] Get a clear idea of the project upfront and then make sure the message gets across
[18:20] Ask the client the right questions and the work feels like it almost does itself
[19:00] The hosts have different opinions about the situation when the client’s mood board is below par compared to the quality of your work
[19:40] Lisa prefers this situation as it gives her a chance to shine and impress the client
[21:00] Ian’s tip: make a tutorial to show your clients how to make a mood board on Pinterest
[22:00] Pinterest boards are easily shareable
[22:40] Designers will know all the social media platforms, but your clients might not know this so they will require examples
[23:40] Suggest them to photograph things they see and like when they’re out and about
[25:00] Dustin likes to go and visit the business location so he can get a good idea of their store space
[26:00] Lisa suggest giving them more added value by making suggestions of other designs which the client can add to the store, depending on the available space
[26:40] This gives the client a lot of trust in your design experience
[27:30] By giving your client direction early on, you’re setting the tone for your working relationship with them, in which you’re the expert and their taking the lead
[28:30] The hosts tell Ian how much they’ve missed him over the past two episodes
[29:00] The example of Graphic Design professor Diane Gibbs asking her senior students to create a product which they must sell
[30:00] Understanding the product helps you ask the right questions
[30:30] Tom suggests hiring another affordable designer for your project to test yourself and see how you behave as a client
[32:00] Keep a file of some of your client’s statements and use some of the words in the copy
[32:30] Lisa wishes there was a similar insightful podcast when she was starting out as a designer
[33:30] The host debate the name “Ian Barnard is better than me” as a title for a TV show or a novel
[34:30] Dustin does a British accent and the other hosts tease him that he can’t pronounce Ian’s surname right
[37:00] The advice to ‘Listen twice as much as you speak’ which Dustin finds really challenging
[37:30] Quick fire up of good questions to ask your client
[38:00] Lisa’s question: ‘How do you want your customer to feel about your brand?’
[38:40] Tom’s suggestion: ‘Tell me stuff you don’t like!’
[39:10] Dustin’s question: ‘What it the number one thing you want to achieve with this project?’
[39:50] Tom adds a caveat to Dustin’s question and suggest when asking the clients this to make sure the answer is not: ‘making more money for the business’
[41:00] Ian suggest asking the clients to sum up a list of words that describe their business
[42:00] New content coming your way soon as we’re planning to put the hosts amazing ideas into content which will be available on DC
[42:50] Dustin usually ask clients to describe Retro Supply and found this was completely different than how he would describe his business
[43:20] Ian suggests: describe your company as a type of car, what car would it be and why?
[44:30] Dustin would describe Retro Supply as an ice cream truck: it gets you where you’re going but you can also stop and have some fun along the way
[45:00] Design Cuts would be the Scooby Doo mystery mobile: it’s full of awesome people solving problems for the community
[46:00] Tom does his Scooby Doo and Shaggy impressions
[46:30] Lisa says her business would be a fox on a tricycle with a jet and Ian sees Lisa’s business as a VW Beetle
[47:20] Ian’s business would be a Bugatti Veyron and as an animal he would be a donkey – not particularly quick but gets there in the end
[48:30] Dustin compares Ian with a 60s Mustang – anything he writes looks so good
[49:30] We’d love to know what animals and cars you’d be on so please let us know on our social media channels or over at
[50:20] Thank you all for listening to this week’s episode

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