You’re hired to design a website for a new client.
Do you present one design or multiple options?
I’m of the one design persuasion. It’s counter productive to show multiple designs to client, which inevitably cedes design decision-making to them as they begin to take on the multiple designs like they’re at a salad bar.
“I’ll take the beveled edges from Design 1 …some gradient backgrounds from Design 4, and I love the purple text highlights from Design 37….”
Multiple designs also mean your vision isn’t clear (or your creative/art director’s isn’t). You’re essentially saying to your client, “Of all the designs up on the wall today, I have no real opinion on which is the strongest, so I’d like you to pick…”
As a designer, it is your responsibility to provide clarity, focus and vision to your client. Keeping the options to one design helps to ensure this. It doesn’t mean there won’t be changes, but it does ensure they everyone stays on course.
Some people choose to show variations on a theme. This is different and isn’t the same as showing multiple directions. Take heed if you decide on this approach because variations can easily mutate into different designs.
But hey, I’m just one dude. So I decided to ask a few of my colleagues what they thought:
Gianni D’Alerta, Owner, Lift Here
“I usually present 2 designs, but depends. I usually drop the first design and see the reaction …if they love it then I’m good. If not I’ll show one more design and have them them choose, or I’ll revise towards one direction.”
Jedd Flanscha, graphic designer
“The number of designs I show depends on the budget, but I usually show 2 designs. If I have the time, I like to show a few options – even if they’re variations of the same design.”
Jory Kruspe, Analogue
“I show one, but there are pitfalls because many times clients have had experience with other designers so they’re accustomed to seeing options. I think this stems from advertising – and design is not advertising.”
Victor Brunetti, Associate Creative Director, roundarch
“Always show two. Your recommendation for what the project should be and one
that tries to match the tone and manner of what you think the client is expecting. So effectively, 1 “boundary-pushing” and 1 “safe”. No more. No less.”
Len Wilson, Super Starr Interactive
“It depends. Never show a shitty comp. They always pick it. Always show 2-3 that are dope. I usually outline upfront how many designs I will present, but never show a shitty one.”
Dale Garcia, Dalematic
“It depends on the designs. I’ll show one …if they have a bad face, them I’ll show the others. Lately I’ve been showing one, but I’ve also found out through experience that showing one is bad luck because it leads to quick approval and is followed by a bunch of edits that just bastardizes everything.”