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Recently I have a customer who keeps asking for revisions. The design has been finalized and the final files have all been submitted to them. Yet, after some time, they contacted me for revisions on the final files again.

How do you usually handle case like this? Do you apply an extra charge for the revision or do you willingly make the revisions for free? Any consideration?

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Any work requested after the project has finished, has been signed off on and final files have been delivered, is a new job. Charge accordingly. If it is a small revision, charge for an hours work. Even small revisions take time. It takes time to find files and resources, re-export and prepare deliverables, upload, email etc. Even a 5 minute revision can take half hour out of your day.

Have a contract, read and signed before you begin work that specifies what happens in this situation, how many revision are included and what constitutes a revision. Clearly. If everyone is clear on boundaries and what is and isn't included then everyone is happy (if they aren't they probably aren't worth having as a client).

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    In addition, I'd suggest the contract explains clearly what does/doesn't constitute a revision; I've had some clients get really hung up on whether minor copy changes or typos constitute a revision (hint: they do). Also, whenever submitting a file to the client following a revision, clearly state something along the lines of "please note that you now have X number of revisions remaining." Some clients will conveniently forget what was agreed upon in the contract once a project has started, and consistently reminding them is the easiest method to avoid disagreements later. – Dre Jun 3 '16 at 9:40
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    Agreed. Good points @Dre – Cai Jun 3 '16 at 9:58
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    @Dre I really like that "x revisions remaining" idea, definitely not something I've thought of, but could really benefit from. Thanks! One small thing though - regarding typos, if the client made the typo, fixing it is the same as changing one word to another, or changing a date - that's a revision from what they gave you. However, if it's a typo YOU made, that's a flaw in your design which you should probably fix for no charge. – Jake Jun 3 '16 at 13:10
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    @jake Correct; if I made the typo I would definitely correct it at no charge. However, I'm very insistent on the client supplying all the text, and then I always copy and paste it into the document as required. I avoid typing any text whenever possible, thus mitigating myself from potential typos on my end. I've worked in busy print studios, and I've seen some expensive typos in my time, enough to make me very cautious regarding any typesetting. – Dre Jun 3 '16 at 14:52
  • I don't necessarily agree that you are starting a new job, but is a reasonable choice. My choice, is to have a clause in your contract of what constitutes an add-on for which you get an additional fee. If you do not have a protection clause in your current contract, I would be sure to add it in the next one. Without a defined event, you are stuck with negotiation with your client. However a not recommended choice, is to walk away and sue. – Learned Man Apr 15 at 19:27
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Cai's answer is of course correct. I'd still like to share my thoughts, especially on the question "How do you usually handle case like this?"

In recent years I have been trying to work with Paul Rand's "The Politics of Design" in mind. I'd like to share a few lines from the very relevant post:

The designer who voluntarily presents his client with a batch of layouts does so not out prolificacy, but out of uncertainty or fear. […]

Bent on impressing the client with their ardor, they present a welter of layouts, many of which are superficial interpretations of potentially good ideas, or slick renderings of trite ones.

Naturally, I make at least a few different designs, but in the end I try to present only one to the client. The one I think is best for their needs.

Also important, Steve Jobs on working with Rand:

I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, 'No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people. […]'

I use these thoughts to convey to my clients that I can't produce several different designs that are equally good. One is the best I can think of or I can make. It is a waste of time to voluntarily produce worse alternatives just so the good one sticks out.

With revisions it's a little different and if the contract allows, I will explore options on one design, together with the client.

In the end, my answer is: try to condition the client's expectations from the beginning of the relationship, so they don't expect multiple designs. Work together with regular briefings and refine. In the end, the client will believe they produced the work themselves, but I take this as proof I did my job well.

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  • Great insight on why one design can be it. You and Paul Rand are my heroes just for that alone! But do you ever get clients unhappy because they don't get to see multiple options, despite conditioning their expectations from the beginning? In my experience, a lot of clients want to choose and pick at designs rather than quickly achieve the goal of the project - a great design that serves their needs. – TCDesigner Mar 5 '17 at 23:40

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