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I'm a junior Full Stack Developer doing some freelancing here and there. I just wanted to ask if designing (UI/UX) with your clients is a good idea? To what extent should they be involved?

For instance, it's not freelance work but I'm recently making a portfolio website for my gf and she proposes designs to me which from a web dev perspective, doesn't really look right. It's not terrible but you know what I mean.

But in previous projects, my clients have been involved in designing the UI/UX with me (one literally thru the whole design phase). I do get ideas occasionally by discussing with them, but to further improve my workflow, is this a good practice?

Thanks.

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    This depends on your clients and the agreements you have in the contract. However a portfolio is something that repesents that person. So it might be best to make it just as your girlfriend wants. She has to use it to get work. – Kevin M. Mar 12 at 12:11
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You Are Describing Participatory Design

This method has a name and it is a perfectly fine way to design as long as you understand the pros and cons to this approach.

Participatory design (originally co-operative design, now often co-design) is an approach to design attempting to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure the result meets their needs and is usable. Participatory design is an approach which is focused on processes and procedures of design and is not a design style. - Participatory Design, Wikipedia

Pros

  • Clients feel at ease about the process (your process is less 'secretive' to them)
  • Client involvement ensures their approval
  • You leverage their existing knowledge of their customers, market, products
  • You have a team: instead of designing alone, you have multiple people providing design ideas

Cons

  • You need to prep activities and tools: Workshops, collaborative prototypes, shared asset locations
  • Self-design is common in non-designers. The risk is high of "as a user I would.." and client designs for themselves.
  • You have to manage expectations. Clients need to know that their feedback is not guaranteed to be included in the design.
  • This requires more organization and leadership skills that other design processes. You need to coordinate with the client and facilitate the participation.
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Nothing wrong with including clients in design process. You can get ideas for your functionalities and do some basic testings. But they should not be taken into serious consideration with numbers, as they already have emotional connection with the brand / product and metrics taken should not be used for general conclusions.

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There is nothing wrong with clients creating their own designs, in fact it can be very useful, but be aware...

...if they have the impression that the designs are useful in practice and they are not, it could endanger the relationship.

Some clients like to show you examples of the competition and talk about it, some create excel sheets with requirements, some like to draw their ideas on paper, some create complete designs themselves etc. etc. It's just another way to communicate what they want and/or need. And that's good! But stay ahead of all the trouble and be clear and honest from the start. Tell them that you will only use any material they create as a reference for your own designs. You don't want clients to put hours and hours in a design that they think is going to be used while it won't. Still leave a door open, especially when you haven't much experience. If their designs are good enough to use parts of it unchanged, you can maybe learn something from it as well :)

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I agree with what others say, there is nothing wrong with involving your clients,the advantages are :

  1. Client feel more involved in project and will be less picky about error
  2. You reduce the amount of time for your project
  3. Continuos delivering of task/activities
  4. What you do is what your client want (on the line of WYSWG)

Since you're stepping into UX/UI it would be worth knowing Agile methodologies that follow the involvement of client into your project

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