the importance of mockups

After presenting design concepts to a client, hearing “I’ll know it when I see it” is a more troubling statement for designers to hear than you could imagine. It’s a perfect mix of words that compose a particularly worrisome cocktail:

• 1 part poor substitute for useful feedback and creative direction for future explorations

• 2 parts our regret that we weren’t able to sell our clients on the proposed concepts

With regard to this “feedback,” it is our responsibility to receive more clarification from the client. It’s common that we ask questions like “So you still want a green….but one less…vomity?” Better yet, “You want the typeface to say that you sell grapefruit without saying you sell grapefruit?” It isn’t too hard to squeeze more direction for subsequent design efforts.

It’s the regret that really hurts; having your efforts briefly glanced at and dismissed. You can try to explain your hardest why that vomit green color would really pop on the paper stock you had in mind for the business card—especially if it was embossed coated with a spot UV. And that typeface you chose for the grapefruit company? Its form best fit the available space on the wooden crates in which the fruit is delivered.

 

Our client was on the fence about which design he wanted for a new business card. That is, until he saw these bad boys!

 

The best technique for us to avoid this regret is one that’s used by many firms in our industry: digital mockups. Photoshopping the graphics onto blank, templated 3D package designs or printed collateral helps contextualize our concepts, providing our clients a greater understanding of our intent with our designs without having to take our word for it.

Our designs are clear. Our intentions are clear. And more often than not, the air is clear of “I’ll know it when I see it.”