Client Code-Speak: aka directions off a desert island
You have a project that requires images or articles, and there are a lot of them. That’s normal. Here’s where it gets tricky…
Client: Can we put some images of the seminar on page 6?
You: Sure, just let me know which images are needed.
Client: Okay, use the blue river images.
(You look in the images folder, and there are no images with the words blue or river in the name. You start going through them, and there are no images with a river, never mind a blue one)
You: Hey, I went through everything, but I can’t see what images you’re talking about.
Client: Blue River is the code name for last year’s event. Use the event images – the ones from last year.
(You find event images, and place those in the layout, and send to client)
Client: Those images are from the retreat, don’t use those.
We all go through this, and we’re equally guilty of the reverse, often speaking “creative code language” for concepts, art or things we need. A great policy for project-related dialogue – easy to do, but hard to remember to do – is to imagine everything as directions off a desert island. Assume the person you’re talking to doesn’t have the benefit of knowing what you know. I’m not talking about fellow team members who’ve been there with you the whole way through the assignment, of course, but clients and suppliers in particular. Whether you need something or are providing something, clarity is key. Those random photos you need for the project could be saved into a folder called “Blue River event photos”, so ask your client to kindly organize them in this format for you. Conversely when you have to supply concepts and art, be equally clear. You might save your PDFs into dated folders with descriptive filenames like:
Projects will ALWAYS go smoother, and less stressfully if you both offer, and ask for, clarity. Politely, cooperatively. Your clients will notice you’re button down, and they’ll respect that.