'The customer comes first.'

Business 101, right? So why is it that some web designers and marketers often forget that clients' needs and desires are just as important to consider as those of the audience the content is serving?

Matt Donovan explored this topic in his presentation 'Defending Creative Design' at this year's Big (D)esign Conference and cited one reason for this disconnect to be the tendency to just say 'no' to any request from a client that we might not agree with or believe is worth doing.

This slighting approach must stop or client relations will surely continue to suffer. Designers can be notorious for their defensiveness when it comes to client critique and therefore are often branded as difficult to work with. And while some designers will say that they'd rather die than change a single thing about their work, their business will most definitely die as well when clients grow tired of having their best interest always put on the backburner.

It's time for a relationship revolution.

So how do agencies avoid the prima donna persona and present themselves as 'people' people?

The power of listening is constantly underrated--- listening not only to what a client says, but what their brand says about itself and what the client wants to be said through your work.

Get to know the client brand as if it were your own and treat it as such.

Breathe it in and live its personality and purpose as an organization.

Understand their audience and how it serves them and create your content and design strategy accordingly.

Clients hire agencies because they are good at what they do. Offer your expert opinion and ideas that will assist in accomplishing the brand's goals. But always keep in mind that it is critical to make sure that you first understand what the client is attempting to achieve through your work and then make those goals your own.

Be one with the brand.

Many agencies make the mistake of showcasing too much of their work all at once. 'Avoid the big reveal,' Donovan cautions. Share your work with the client often and get feedback to ensure that you are going in the desired direction. Making little changes along the way is far easier than creating a complete design that requires multiple mass alterations in order to meet clients' needs. It is an iterative process that should always allow for feedback and input throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Mind the Golden Rule: Treat the client with respect and openness and you will be treated likewise. Your amicable work style will surely earn you a highly regarded reputation and lead to referrals.

Business is built on relationships, not projects.

In a world full of seemingly stubborn designers, it is important to step out of the box and ensure positive client interactions.

At LB, we don't just create experiences for the client's consumers, we also believe in creating unique experiences for our own consumers: the clients.

We are leading the charge on this relationship revolution.

Let's all put the customer back where they belong.

By Savannah Harper