I understand that communication between client and designer is very crucial and it will set the tone for possible work and whether you may ruin your rep. That said I would like to improve my communication skills to be a better person, explain in a clearer fashion and feel comfortable in a situation that is important. However, I am having trouble looking for material, sites, or books that will focus on improving communications. Does anything exist that will help teach designers how to communicate better with their clients and even with one another when working on sub-contracts?

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How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy is the best thing I've seen for the human side of the business, and has two chapters mainly about client relations plus lots of relevant titbits throughout the rest of the book. Really good, honest, straight to the point stuff.

For something more ongoing than a published book, I'd suggest the magazine Computer Arts which - despite the name - has quite a good focus on the human side of the industry, and often runs articles on topics like client relations.

Searching on their site for "Client Relationships" turns up lots of relevant stuff. (10 tips for a perfect client relationship would be a good one to start with!)

As well lists of tips like this, they do a lot of more open-ended interviews and features on designers and studios that give useful insights into how other people conduct their work. It's good fly-on-the-wall type stuff - everything from in depth interviews, to designers literally talking through the clutter on their desk - and how they deal with clients is a subject that often comes up.

They also publish books like The Design Studio Handbook and The Freelance Handbook that focus on the business and human sides of the industry, including sections on winning and keeping clients.

They're UK based, so there might be the occasional UK-specific reference, but they're generally pretty international in their focus.

(no affiliation, just a happy subscriber)


There are several references that would be very good reads for someone who is at this point in their career where presentation and collaboration are key to your success. You are not in the bullpen working in darkness; you are out there talking with people, pitching concepts and handling resistance. The way you handle a conversation will make or break the client relationship.

Another book that is particularly helpful in framing difficult conversations (especially with higher-ups) is "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High" by Patterson, et. al. I'm thrilled to say that this book is the backbone of the communication style where I am lucky enough to be employed. If you can effectively communicate and negotiate with people at pay grades above yours, you will feel a lot more satisfied in your career because there will be no topic you can't broach with your leadership. They will also be receiving accurate information, because people will tell them what they need to know (rather than what they want to hear).

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