Why clients are integral to the design process

Explore the importance of working together as client and designer for the ultimate benefit of creating better design.

Working with clients through the design process

We’ve all had the kind of hands-off approach from clients in the past and we all know how it can make you feel like the project fell short of where it could have been if they’d have been more involved. 

From my perspective, client involvement is absolutely crucial to success in design. 

Clients know their own businesses. They have valuable industry knowledge and experience.

Designers know how to design. They have valuable industry skills and experience. 

When you combine the two, whether you’re building an app, designing a website or creating an individual piece of content, you start to see the good stuff. 

Collaboration and mutual appreciation of each other’s fields are necessary for a successful project. 

We need to talk about business objectives

All of my projects begin with an initial briefing. From the outset, I tend to make it clear to my clients that they can leave me to worry about the finer details. I wouldn’t go to my doctor and tell him what I think is wrong with me. I would go to him with a problem and let him find a solution.

It’s for this reason that I suggest clients focus on the business goals and objectives before we even touch a design tool. 

Finding solutions together

It’s not just about finding out what to do next. For me, it’s as much about finding out what we did before that got us to the point of requiring new design. What are the underlying problems that are inhibiting the business? What are we trying to achieve and what is preventing us from getting there?

Once we can answer those questions, we can get to work. 

It might be a case of having a website or an app that has become unsuitable for consumption by the modern user. If it is, we need to explore the problem as well as the solution. We need to understand what kind of impact it’s having on the business because there might well be parts of it that aren’t broken and don’t need fixing. 

Design is a very subjective discipline. We all have our preferences, but what we should be asking as part of this collaborative process is whether or not the potential solution meets the needs of the business. 

I like to sit and listen to the client talk through this for a while so we can really explore it, so it’s a necessary part of the whole process. Only after this exploration can we find a real solution that helps a business deliver on its objectives. 

The importance of obtaining feedback

Feedback is a point in the design process that you simply cannot do without. 

If my client isn’t sure about any particular aspect of my proposed designs, I am always open to discussing this and utilising the comments function on InVision, for instance, to facilitate it.

It’s important to involve others in the feedback sessions as well – the views of people who haven’t been involved in a project can prove to be invaluable.

If it’s possible, external user testing can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not always necessary for smaller design projects. 

It’s all about trust 

Ultimately, the success of a project can often come down to one thing: trust. How much trust is a client willing to put into the hands of a designer and how willing are they to collaborate? 

There is always a reason for hiring a professional designer and it’s usually because the task can’t be executed in-house, so giving a designer the trust and knowledge and expertise of the industry in question is a must for any project, big or small. 

Taking this sort of approach always delivers a much stronger bond between the designer and the client, which means that the output is significantly stronger and more on-brief than it would have been otherwise. 

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. 

If you don’t have Touch ID or prefer not to use it, you have to enter three random characters from your password, which can be a frustrating system if you’ve opted for a long one.

The app could be more accommodating in this way, but perhaps updates are in the pipeline over at HL.

My accounts

The fact that you’re able to see your entire portfolio at a glance is super helpful and makes the app very easy to use and your investments very easy to access.

Clicking into a specific account allows you to see the detail you need in relation to gains and losses over time, but I can’t help but feel that it’s not granular enough. It could do with more filtering options to give you greater control over what you see on-screen.

Charts and technical indicators could be included to bring the accounts to life and take advantage of landscape view in larger smartphones.

Another drawback is that it’s currently not possible to set up monthly savings or move funds between accounts; you have to go online or call HL direct to do so, which isn’t ideal for what should be basic tasks.

It’s also not possible to see broker forecasts, reports or accounts of certain stock and funds, so making smarter decisions on where to invest is made unnecessarily and slightly more difficult.


The app features the ability to organise your favourite investments into folders called Watchlists, which is one of my most-utilised features.

There are a couple of areas that are ripe for improvement here, too. I’d love to see total costs, including gains and losses for each of the Watchlists, and have the kind of organisational functions you have for subfolders as you do for bookmarks on Google Chrome (sub-Watchlists, if you will).

Collaboration with others could also be possible here. If the app could facilitate shared Watchlists, you’d be able to collaborate on ideas to make smarter investments with your family and friends as well.

There are also a few discrepancies between the app and the website whereby this part of the service is still referred to as ‘Virtual Portfolio’, so that could do with clearing up to avoid confusing users.


HL makes good use of its news section to share its expertise and standing in the market, which I find very useful and informative.

Personalisation and accessibility would be key here, though. There’s currently no ability to filter or select my own sources of news and no features that are catered to those with impaired vision.

There are also no videos and few images to enhance the experience for people. The usefulness of the content would be vastly improved if, along with this, they introduced interlinking and improved bookmarking in the app. There’s too much manual work involved on the part of the reader as it stands.


Overall, there’s a pleasant experience to be had in an app that is this easy to navigate. It’s not difficult to find what you want, but this benefit could be even better with things like more detailed bookmarking.

From a design perspective, it looks clean and lends itself to a positive brand experience, but not for those with a tablet or those using different parts of the website.

There have been a few disappointed customers who have expressed the same kinds of frustrations I experienced, so it would be no surprise to see the developers and designers rectifying that in future updates.

The management of my personal finances has been improved on the whole thanks to this app, but I think there’s still work to be done on the small things to allow it to appeal to audiences on a bigger scale.