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Balancing Act: Satisfying Client Needs Without Portfolio Overindulgence

Posted On Monday, October 30, 2023

Author: Donna Watson (Technical Support Administrator)

Imagine you've just snagged a new web design project. Excitement courses through your veins as you dive into the creative depths, ready to craft digital magic. But pause for a moment and ponder:

  • Who is the star of this web design show?
  • Are you placing your client's desires front and center?

Or, do you find yourself daydreaming about showcasing this project in your portfolio?

It might sound like trivial questions, but they open the curtain on a common conundrum in the world of web design. One that often tiptoes into ethical territory. Most designers aim to be paragons of virtue, diligently serving their clients' best interests. Yet, we're only human, susceptible to that subtle siren call of self-interest, sometimes without even realizing it.

The source of this quandary? It lies in those tiny decisions we make throughout the design journey. They're the spice in our creative stew, adding that dash of 'portfolio appeal.' They undoubtedly make our portfolios shine, but do they radiate the same brilliance elsewhere?

So, let's unravel this web of intentions, distinguishing whether that flashy new feature is serving the client or the designer. Let's find out who's basking in its digital spotlight.

Look What I Can Do!

Picture this: You're caught in the mesmerizing whirlwind of the latest web trends. A new feature catches your eye, and excitement bubbles within you. You can't help but dream of weaving it into a project, showcasing your innovative prowess.

Parallax scrolling? Oh, it's a crowd-pleaser, no doubt. But you've never had the chance to sprinkle its magic onto your canvas.

Then, destiny brings you to a project with a perfect fit. It boasts a breathtaking hero image that promises to dazzle users. Without hesitation, you work your digital wizardry and implement parallax scrolling.

Technically speaking, it's a success – a trophy on your designer's mantle, right? You picture your client marveling at your artistic flair. It's a thrilling prospect!

Reality, however, can be a stern teacher. Your client, with a discerning eye, isn't as thrilled. They astutely point out that the parallax effect, instead of enhancing user experience, hijacks the spotlight. It distracts users from the primary purpose of the page, which is to guide conversions.

What went wrong? Looking back, you realize your motivation was off-kilter. You adopted the parallax scrolling not because it served the client's goals but because you could. It didn't enhance the final product. In essence, it was like a child being mischievous to grab a parent's attention – effective at drawing focus but ultimately annoying.

Features Should Have a Purpose

Now, hold your horses! It's not a call to arms against incorporating trendy features or cutting-edge wizardry into your projects. It's merely a gentle reminder that any addition should have a clear and meaningful purpose. It's not just about flaunting your creative muscles; it's about making the user's journey smoother and more delightful.

Take microinteractions, for example. They're like digital elves, guiding users along their path. Animations can be the spotlight that illuminates essential information. It's all about placing these elements in the right context at the right time.

The problem arises when we, designers, sprinkle features like confetti without giving much thought to their raison d'être. We should ponder each addition's purpose. Is it purely for showbiz? Or does it serve both the user and the client?

Web design can sometimes feel like a wild race to be the first to showcase the shiniest new gadget. We use these elements as pedestals to boost our ego and income. No one wants to be branded 'outdated.'

However, we'd arrive at a different conclusion if we took a step back and honestly assessed the project's needs. The truth is, many of these extras can likely stay backstage, awaiting their moment.

Here's a useful rule of thumb: If it doesn't contribute any value to the final product, it's better left out, like skipping that unnecessary accessory on a first date.

What About Client Requests?

Now, designers aren't the sole culprits in this dynamic. Clients often throw their hat into the ring, requesting these shiny extras. How should we handle these scenarios?

t's indeed a sticky wicket. We yearn to keep our clients content, but we're also bound by the principles of our craft. Thus, the same philosophy applies – dialogue is key. Engage your client in a discussion about these feature requests, outlining the pros and cons and, most importantly, defining their purpose.

Sometimes, shedding light on the rationale behind a particular feature might be enough to sway their decision. And if not, at least you've earnestly advocated for the project's best interests. Remember, you can't win them all, but you can always strive to serve them well.

Design for Your Project, Not Your Portfolio

Web design isn't merely about crafting visually stunning websites; it's a journey to make things better, more effective, and more enjoyable. Achieving this demands thoughtful consideration and, sometimes, a bit of soul-searching.

At the core of it all, the essence lies in finding the perfect solution for the task at hand. While an impressive portfolio is a valuable asset for your career, your clients' satisfaction carries even more weight.

So, if your portfolio lacks those trending features, don't fret. Perhaps the right moment is yet to come. Always remember that helping your clients conquer challenges and reach their goals is the cornerstone of your future success. In the intricate dance of web design, this will be your ultimate performance.