Avoiding Multiple Concepts

When doing design work, you have to present your concept for the project to the client, but just how many should you show your client?

It is fairly normal for designers to present as many as 3 (if not more) design concepts to the client, and while it may seem good for the process it can often make things worse. Where possible, or explicitly requested by the client, only 1 design concept should be presented to the client.


Choice is Good?

Every time you provide a choice, you’re asking the client to make a decision. Asking a client to make a choice isn’t always a bad thing, but for those inexperienced in building websites, this choice can lead to doubt and confusion. It is common for a client to request one element from one design and another from the second. While this can sometimes work, it rarely does without going back to the drawing board.

Smarter Resource Allocation

Choice takes time, and time is money.

Creating many concepts for the design is going eat into your budget for the design, something that isn’t necessarily going to create a better result. You usually have a favorite concept even when presenting multiple concepts to the client, so why not spend a little extra time refining that one, instead of creating others just for the sake of it.

It may also be better to spend more time earlier in the process talking with the client getting more details on their requirements. Spending more time doing additional concepts, that you don’t really are right for the projects, is not good for you or the client.

You’re the Expert

You are hired by the client for your design expertise. From asking the right questions during the client interview to making the right choices during the design phase, you’re expertise will help produce the right design for the client.

After you’ve discussed the clients needs, you’ll probably play with some different concepts. When deciding which to show the client, you should make the choice of the best one. You should be making these choices instead of providing too many choices to the client.


I’m not suggesting you present just one design to client and say you’re done. Once the concept is presented to the client you will make a number of revisions to that design based on the feedback from the client.


Paul Rand:

“The designer who voluntarily presents his client with a batch of layouts does so not out prolificacy, but out of uncertainty or fear. He thus encourages the client to assume the role of referee. In the event of genuine need, however, the skillful designer is able to produce a reasonable number of good ideas. But quantity by demand is quite different than quantity by choice. Design is a time-consuming occupation.”

Paul Boag:

“In a world of limited budgets it is unwise to waste money on producing designs that are ultimately going to be thrown away. The resources would be better spent refining a single design through multiple iterations.”


Although I’ve wanted write this post for a while, I was reminded of it by a essay I recently read in the book: Designers Don’t Read, by Austin Howe. Although I haven’t finished the book yet, I would highly recommend it to any doing desgin!

About Mubashar Iqbal

Mubashar Iqbal is the creator of Most Inspired, a web designer and developer, who has been building websites for over 13 years. You can read his blog at Mubashar Iqbal
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