Mockups are a cost-effective way to present your ideas to a client before you go through with the real deal. They are great for making sure you and the client are on the same page. Basically, they are the most effective way of communication between a designer and a non-designer client. The visual bridges all the gaps and shows the client the direction the designer is taking.
If you and the client are not on the same page, you can change the course without spending a lot of time or resources. It’s a win-win! Here are just some of the reasons why mockups are great for building and growing your business:
As a designer, you have your own style that’s entwined into any work you do. Regardless of whether you’re working for a client in mechanics, fashion or medicine, your style will always be seen in the work, even if the theme is completely different.
In this way, mockups are a good way to present your aesthetics to the client to make sure that’s something they like. If they’d like a different style, you have to determine whether you’re comfortable with ditching your style to fit the client requirements.
Later, you can include mockups in your portfolio as a way of showing new, potential clients your general style. Usually, this can save a lot of time negotiating and discussing business, because clients who like the underlying style your portfolio will generally like anything you create for them.
Mockups are the best way to save time when a client asks for changes. They are simplified and basically a sketch, so it’s not that much of a trouble to add or remove certain elements or styles. It’s not a finished work, nor will you be emotionally attached to it – it’s just a canvas for changes, so look at it from that perspective.
“From the moment you submit your mockup to the final deliverable, there will likely be tons of changes and you need to learn how to be okay with that. Mockups are flexible, adaptable and changeable – and most importantly, the degree to which they’re such speaks a lot about your business and professionalism”, says Kristin Savage, a marketer and contributing writer at TrustMyPaper and BestEssayEducation.com.
For designers who are working for non-designer clients, it can be very hard to even start the conversation. Usually, it seems like we speak entirely different languages. There are also problematic clients who have an extremely fixed idea of the design they want, but they don’t know how to verbalize the way it looks.
In these cases and beyond, a mockup is a way to start the discussion with the client and present a starting point that will serve as an introduction to further tweaks. When you present the client with something, anything, it’s easier for them to point out what they like and what they don’t like.
At this point, it’s also important to establish a clear line of communication with your client. Be very direct and transparent about what you can and cannot do. If your client has unreasonable deadlines, refer to that and discuss possible delays instead of promising something that will put huge pressure on you.
Words are strong, but in graphic design, the work is what does the talking. You can have dozens of meetings before you present that first mockup, but most likely, the client won’t have an exact idea of what you’re imagining before you present it in a visual form.
For you, it might be more time-consuming and require more effort, but it will be much more valuable to the client. They like to see what you are working on, and not just hear about it. In order to present a full picture of your design, create a presentation where you will feature the design on multiple areas and surfaces. For example, if you’re creating a corporate logo, don’t just present it as-is: show your clients what it would look like on business cards, pens, papers, brochures and so on.
Mockups are a great tool for building your brand and strengthening your reputation on the market. For potential clients, mockups show that you are ready to set aside the time and effort necessary to wow them, even though you’re not working together yet. For existing clients, it shows that you value their input and feedback from the earliest stages. As we have already mentioned, mockups that you worked on in the past can be wonderful additions to your portfolio.
As you are gathering mockups for your portfolio, make sure to include a versatile collection of designs, which differ in style and function. This will show potential clients that you have the range to tackle any type of design work. It’s also a great idea to include the initial requirements from the client because they will work as a great context for how the design was made. People will also have the chance to see how you actually carried out those instructions and how on-brand you were.
It often happens that clients who asked for something (element, color, style, etc.) end up disliking it when they see it in visual form. The opposite is also a frequent case: you try to talk your client into something, they oppose it and don’t think it will work well, but when you present a mockup, they like it.
Designers usually joke about this as it can be quite frustrating to not be able to explain a visual element to your client with words. To go around this gap in understanding, the easiest way is to just let the visuals do the talking.
In the competitive world of graphic design, mock-ups are a great way to initiate visual communication with your clients and stay on the same page throughout the design process. Most clients also like being included in the design process, so make sure you listen to their feedback and inputs and apply it to your tweaks.