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I have a client who has asked if it's possible to screen share so that he can watch/dictate changes in real time.

The issue is, I've already made several requested revisions per his direction. However, once he changes one thing, another is affected therefore, requiring additional revisions.

I've never been asked to screen share with previous jobs, so I was unsure if this is normal? I'm worried that if it isn't and I do it once that it will be expected by the client in the future.

I want the client to be happy with the result, but how do I approach this?

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    Are the changes related to the content or the visual? Is the client a designer /art director / creative director from an agency? – curious Jul 25 at 0:37
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    The simple answer is "get a new job" :) Certainly "No", no designer should ever have to do this. – Fattie Jul 25 at 10:46
  • In a way, they're asking to watch the sausage get made...Doesn't seem like there are any upsides here for either party (despite what they may think). – BruceWayne Jul 25 at 16:32
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    I'm surprised at the answers here - I've collaborated with graphic designers in the way you're describing multiple times. It may be important to note that my experience was during early/conceptual phases, where we were rapidly iterating though different colors/positions/etc on mockups, as opposed to making "final" revisions on a finished product. – A C Jul 25 at 23:24
  • Are you willing to make a compromise? I know certain streamers who have 2 monitors, and only one is shared to the public. If something comes up during streaming (he comments on news), he searches on his other one not to accidentally share anything sensitive (or get banned by the streaming provider for some 18+ picture image search happens to find). You might find a similar solution useful. – Nyos Jul 27 at 19:41
36

This kind of depends upon who you ask.

Here.... it would never be an option.

Much the same way I do not work with a client standing behind me "dictating changes". There is no feasible reason why a client needs to be that close. If they wish to micro-manage to that degree, they need to hire an employee. As a freelancer, it is asking far too much in my opinion.

In addition screen sharing, basically gives the client insight into how I work or what tools I use, and if I'm not careful, personal items I do not want on display to clients.

No. I would not permit any screen sharing at all from my system.

If more immediate changes are necessary due to a looming deadline or something, then a phone call and revisions while on (speaker) phone may be permitted on very rare occasions. With email used to send revisions. This provides a "wall" between what I do and what the client sees while still providing instantaneous feedback if warranted.

In short... I am not a "while you wait" or "on demand" service.

Would a chef allow a restaurant patron to come into the kitchen and dictate how much of what spice was put into which dish at what time? OF course not. The chef merely needs to be told "no cilantro". --- They may as well ask to sit on my lap while I work if they want to screen share. To me, it is just as ridiculous of a request.

But, again, that's merely my opinion. I'm sure there are others that have no problem with it.

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    A remote meeting to go over the design and make notes, I can see that, but as you said, dictating live changes? that's a bit odd. – Baldrickk Jul 25 at 9:42
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    Even as a meeting, I've never had the need to screen share.. as long as everyone in the meeting (over the phone) is looking at the same PDF/web page, that's generally been more than sufficient. In fact, I'll throw PNG iterations up on my server and give a link, so all one need do is refresh a browser window if changes have been implemented. – Scott Jul 25 at 14:06
  • I agree with these comments. In 25 years I have only been involved with this once, a CEO for a global travel brand who insisted that he 'new better than anyone else" - what he was actually doing was interfering, adding work and making subjective inputs that he liked (not necessarily logical or what the customer would need). Working live with a client is a recipe for disaster unless its final tweaks for expediency or a deadline - send them a visual, ask them to mark it up with reasons why, express an extra time / cost for their changes - that normally flushes out the crap and stops it dead. – Applefanboy Jul 26 at 7:58
29

I've been in and out of the graphic design world over several decades, and have also spent a lot of time in both technical writing / illustration and architectural design & 3D modeling - in all those professional spheres, I've used screen sharing for communicating final presentations or interactive demos, I've used screensharing to teach, and on several occasions in the 3D Generalist world I've used screensharing in live design collaboration with other designers - but I've never either allowed or heard of anyone else allowing a client to virtually stand over my shoulder in that way.

Utterly inappropriate.

I had a principal of an architecture firm who had a practice of physically standing peering over my shoulder when I was (as his direct employee) working in 3D in a BIM model, and I learned to deal with that, though it initially disturbed me. He stopped doing it completely after one day when he had quietly assumed that position without saying anything and I unknowingly knocked him arse over teakettle when I cannoned into him on my chair as I scooted backwards very quickly to go get a print I'd just fired.

My take is that if they want to stand over your shoulder, they must take the physical risks inherent in that activity, and oh MAN should they PAY through the NOSE for that level of ludicrous extra interaction - hell I charge for revision cycles beyond contract scope, and for extra beyond-scope meetings I charge double my usual meeting rate - you want to sit and mouse-direct? That's gonna cost you enough money to compensate me for lost design time on your job and several others into the bargain.

This faux-price list is an oldie-but-goodie - it's been floating around on da interwebs forever (so the actual price-point is way low - to make current, assume those prices are per-hour labour rates) but the conceptual framework is exactly on point:

enter image description here

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    Can i please request an explanation of who do 'I' and 'You' refer to in the context of the image? Thanks in advance – lucifer63 Jul 26 at 12:38
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    @lucifer63 "I" is the designer, "you" is the client. – Raidri supports Monica Jul 26 at 12:49
11

Since I like playing devil's advocate, I'll elaborate on situations where I think that kind of request would make sense.

(spoiler: there aren't many)

  • You have a client who has shown to be respectful of your work and time in the past, and the changes are content based, and there is a lot.

Example from my experience: I had a client who is a pipe organ builder. The website was approved and coded, but we had pages and pages of stuff to review and correct in tables. Each single pipe of every single pipe organ has a name and a length and belongs to a set, and there were over 100 of them. Some of the original content provided was actually wrong and the client knew his stuff by heart.

  • The request is extremely time-sensitive and important.

Example from my experience: Being a designer for broadcast news during a time of war. Graphics had to go on air on National TV in minutes and they were highly technical and couldn't be wrong, so I had an army specialist looking over my shoulder and making sure I was putting the right identification with the right equipment image, or that maps showing how the conflict was evolving were correct.

In fact, working in broadcast, screen sharing was a constant deal. The producer always saw my screen in real-time and anyone in the building could tune in and look at what I was doing.

  • Your are freelancing for another agency

Just like a creative director or an art director might come to your desk to ask if you can tweak a few things here and there occasionally, I could see how this would be acceptable every now and then for other designers.

  • yes but question is tagged 'logo' so the feedback can't be content based i assume – Lucian Jul 25 at 16:59
  • @Lucian oh drats, that was subtle! Well, I'll leave it anyways in case it's useful for someone else – curious Jul 25 at 17:00
  • yeah your answer is valid, the OP didn't make the 'logo' part very clear, i barely noticed that myself while answering – Lucian Jul 25 at 18:06
  • @Lucian I think the question can be more useful for others without necessarily considering logo design specifically, anyways. I don't really think it would be worth the community's effort to repeat this question for all other types of design activities. In general, afaic, screen sharing is looking for trouble. – curious Jul 25 at 18:24
  • Interesting cases... – Rafael Jul 29 at 11:38
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I don't think it's "normal", although there are probably designers who do it.

When deadlines have been tight, I've collaborated with clients over the phone while sharing static images with them at the same time using the Adobe Cloud, however I think screen sharing is akin to having the client stand behind you, and it's too invasive. Personally, I wouldn't agree to it as it would make me feel very uncomfortable.

Since screen sharing is a bit of a security risk for all sorts of reasons, rather than just saying no to your client, one excuse you could give is that your company's IT policy doesn't permit it.

  • You can share only one of 2 screens or only part of your screen for privacy. – joojaa Jul 25 at 9:09
  • @joojaa I'm sure that's a possibility, but then the client may still want to see you working on it live - and for some, that is an invasion of privacy in itself. – Billy Kerr Jul 25 at 9:12
  • Yeah i understand that working in front of another person is distracting and causes you to do errors becasue your trying to work too fast. Just say that this is for discussion not for making changes, it takes too long to make everything ok again. (its a sckill to work on somebody's screen, ive gotten over this as its perfectly normal in teaching) – joojaa Jul 25 at 9:35
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    I once had a teacher who said: "If a customer says they want to make changes standing behind you because they don't know program tell them using a pencil and eraser on paper work same way". – SZCZERZO KŁY Jul 25 at 10:52
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    @joojaa I agree totally, for teaching fine, but not for making changes. – Billy Kerr Jul 25 at 16:26
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This is a micromanager. This person is, as Billy Kerr notes, trying to stand over your shoulder and tell you exactly what to do. That is not a client you want to accommodate.

Maybe this person doesn't trust you as a designer to execute his or her ideas, or thinks that his/her ideas are better than yours, or whatever the person's problem is. That doesn't make it your problem.

If the client wants to hire someone to do precisely what s/he says and never mind what it looks like, s/he can do so, but that person won't be you. Or the client can learn the Creative Suite on his/her own time.

Stick to the number of rounds of revision in your contract or whatever your shop dictates, and politely decline this request. "I'm sorry, that's not possible" is an answer. "No" is a complete sentence. Don't give excuses, don't give reasons, just keep declining.

6

Not normal practice and you probably already know this from the way the question is asked.

This is apparently about a logo so it cannot be text revisions, in which case he's probably looking to give you some ideas on revising the shape, the color, the symbol or whatever it is you are working on this logo.

So it can't be a large volume of requests, instead the client is actually looking to discuss ways to adjust this logo. He may need your oppinion on some of these ideas.

Since this is not a multi-page work with high volume text changes which can easily be sent over by email or PDF commenting, it may be helpful to take the call and get his input. He may actually have useful suggestions on revising this logo and closing the job sooner.

Screen sharing and live editing on revising a logo? Neaaah.. this can't be good, unless you really know this client to be a patient, rational, respectful person. We don't know this so the short answer is..

No, it is not normal practice.

4

I would use that session only to take notes.

The question is, is that normal? On a cheap workshop where the "designer" is the client, and the operator is just the interface to the computer, yes.

On a studio, no. It is not professional. It is cheap, it makes think the client is the one filled with good ideas, with taste, with knowledge, with proportion... dam! he should put a design studio, filled with operators, and only giving instructions... he would be rich!

Nop. Only use that session to take notes.

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