How do you present designs? Look feels? Do you provide a lot of options and let the clients say what they like? Or do you move in one direction and give reasons WHY you are making these decisions?
One recommendation, but we involve clients along the way so they don't really get big surprises or big unveils. When they say they want choice, we get into the uncertainties and address them rather than play piñata games with design.
Agreed. I would also add that as you give multiple options along the way, always have a recommendation.
Example: "Here are 5 directions for the logo, this one would be my personal choice"
It let's them know that you can direct the flow of the project but still allows them to disagree and select the one they are drawn to.
It depends on what point in the process you're talking about.
Early on, it's important to provide variety — inspiration buckets, mood boards, style tiles — both for you as the designer and for the client. It's human nature to mix-and-match, and by presenting multiple organized stylistic elements (as opposed to multiple full designs) you allow the client to choose out the pieces they like before you do the complex process of figuring out how it all works together. This helps you both understand each other better as well.
That said, final designs feel more like complete products to clients (regardless of whether the dev work is finished or not). Final designs should be presented with a confident visual "voice", include well-thought out reasoning behind the decisions you've made, and allow for some flexibility on small pieces (because people need to feel heard).
tl;dr Early on, provide high-level options for style and direction (with recommendations on why). Later on, provide low-level options on specific implementations of the high-level decisions (again with recommendations and reasoning).
Never ever (and I mean ever) give multiple choices, that's my personal rule. If a client insists on say three options, I will politely explain that they would be spending three times more cash/time on getting three good designs instead of one great design.
Options are bad because most clients aren't designers, and so they are basing their opinions on personal taste, instead of trusting the designer to come up with a proper solution based on facts and experience.
To those who don't understand the discipline of design our creative decisions can seem like a wishy washy stab in the dark. I whole hardily agree with the comments so far in that you provide concise solutions with clear intent to solve the problems at hand. If you start with a clear brief & tangible goals developed from the clients requirements everything you do following should be a reaction to what has been established in that founding narrative.
Great question. Personally, I prefer to move with one direction and explain my reasoning. This is because, in most cases, I am being hired by the client to make these exact decisions. Presenting them with multiple options - I feel - undermines my own ability as a designer to take the clients constraints and goals and come up with an appropriate design.
All that said, revisions and feedback are an incredibly important part of a good design process. Showing a few versions of a single idea can make sense where, stylistically, the client may appreciate the nuance of another design. Aside from that, your best design decision should be the one you propose. Iterate as necessary.
The whole design process can be considered a suite of choices.
I force myself to mentally motivate every single decision I take in my design practice. Taking that process to it's end, I can only come up with one final solution.
Providing several solution would be like giving up on designing and handing the decision to someone else.
Providing lots of options in a design solution, is the worst way of getting the client involved. (You rather get them involved when helping them to make you understand their problem and clearly define the goals you need to achieve)
This is a good option to uncover visual preferences: http://danielmall.com/articles/visual-inventory/
Have ongoing conversations with your client in the early stages so there is no 'reveal'. This reduces the shock-value of your designs and when presenting a design, you can logically walk through your decision making process of a single brand direction.
Any sort of layout questions should be tackled in a wireframing process, outlining importance of the content and where it lands on the page.
Up the communication, lower the amount of guess work.
I've never done 'client work' in sense that it is usually discussed. This has probably influenced my pretty strong stance on this subject:
Amateurs present options. Professionals present recommendations.
Present multiple options. State your recommendation and why. Be prepared to defend your preference.
When you do this, everyone feels involved in the process. And if you're working with a client/stakeholder regularly, USUALLY they'll be cognizant of whether they went with your recommendations before, and be less prone to shutting out your recommendation every time.
It doesn't guarantee your preferred design every time. But it certainly makes for a good relationship.
People are always a fan of choices--however, in my experience, I've found that when you present multiple options to a client (be that as a freelancer or your boss, who is also your client) they will choose an option that you don't like, a majority of the time.
I am more in favor of the process where you present your design and tell them why made the choices you did. From there, you can begin a conversation.
The alternative is your client will hum and haw over which option they like better, rather than refining the work you've done already.