Does showing just one idea work?

Rochelle Weiner asked the question, “How many creative ideas do you show?” on the CFC LinkedIn Group:

When I'm designing a project for a client, I usually show them up to 3 different creative ideas for a web page or 3-6 ideas for a logo, etc., which begins the discussion. The client usually either chooses from these, or more likely, they start making suggestions and changes to a favorite design or combine two ideas, etc. It usually works pretty well for me. However, I just was talking to a web development group and they've recently started showing only one idea to a client, and find that this is working well for them.

Whether you’re a photographer, writer, designer or illustrator, how many creative ideas do you show? How is it working for you?

2 thoughts on “Does showing just one idea work?

  1. Dwayne Cogdill

    When it comes to logos, I don’t buy the idea that only a couple of good ideas are possible. If we think of categories like monogram, symbol, logotype, etc., we can easily come up with many approaches to identity.
    I show between 15 to 30 ideas for 1st round. Client chooses a “direction,” and we move to round 2. Round two is 6 to 12. Client chooses a “solution,” then I introduce color and show 2 to 3 options with stationery.
    By the time we get to the final design, the client feels confident that we have chosen the best solution, and that he got his money’s worth. I call presentations “conversations” — working meetings. The result has been many design awards.

  2. Matthew

    I only show one to the client. Why? Because that’s my job. I get paid to come up with the best solution to their design problem. I do all the sketches, thumbnails, and roughs and decide which one is the best. Me, not them. I choose the direction. Again, because that’s my job. That is what I am good at, that is what I am trained to do, and that is why they hired me.
    They are not my creative partner. If they could do what I do, they wouldn’t need my services. I don’t show them 30 ideas and say “which one do you like the best?” That’s my job to figure out. That is why they hired me. They didn’t hire me because I can crank out a few pages of ideas; They pay me because I choose the best, the one idea, that will work for them and help them achieve their goals.
    The minute you provide the client with a choice on direction, you are purposefully taking the creative power out of your hands and giving it to the client; An individual or group of people who are not designers, and do not have the training, knowledge, and background to correctly choose the best option. Why would you allow them to take creative control?
    Basically it comes down to this: You should choose the best idea and present it to them. One idea. If they don’t like that idea, then you can talk to them about it and figure out what’s not working. That is when you can go to your backup ideas. But don’t give the steering wheel to the client, because they don’t know where to go. You are the map, they are simply the gas money.