Posted March 3, 2012 7:06 am by with 3 comments

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nullOver the last 5 years of helping clients design and build their imagination on the internet, I have come to realize that most don’t know the difference between creativity and skill. In this post I will explain it so you can quit making the same mistakes that so many do.

Skill, is the ability to draw or paint a horse. Creativity, is putting a horn on its head and calling it a unicorn.

Skill is sculpting clay or stone to make structures. Creativity, is applying those same skills to make buildings that one can only dream of.

Skill is sewing felt and foam together. Creativity is giving it character and personality.

As you can see, skill and creativity are two different things entirely. Unfortunately, most that hire developers and designers never understand this. Typically, this is how things progress:

  • Client talks with web designer about their needs.
  • Designer asks what their vision and design preferences are.
  • Client usually responds with something very vague and ends conversation by saying, “Just get creative”.
  • Designer gets creative and shows client.
  • Client can’t believe what they are looking at. It is in no way what they need or want.
  • Client says, “Why did you do this?” Designer says, “You said to get creative and didn’t give any direction”.

Usually, this process goes on over and over again until both are frustrated and client is out of money. So how do you avoid this type of situation? Well if you are a client always give direction. There is no such thing as to much direction. Spend lots of time researching your design characteristics and needs. Make a scrapbook of design ideas and inspiration that you can talk about with the designer. Show examples, color swatches, and use descriptive language. If you are a designer, learn to communicate with your clients in a way that furthers their design dialog with you. Force them to articulate their ideas and thoughts. Start out of the box with adjectives that describe their vision then get closer until you have nailed down the color of the font.

You see, in the end you don’t ever want to hire a creative. You want to hire someone with the skills to bring your creativity to life.
[photo credit]

  • I’ve found that the best way to deal with this issue is through a standard process. Obviously this is difficult in some situations but start with a process and tweak as you go. This has totally changed our approach and relationships with our customers.

  • You’re making clients have to actually think and plan and have a goal. I love/hate it. 🙂

  • Sometimes the ‘creative’ aspect is what leaves a lasting impression with the potential customer and be a powerful tool for brandingl.