The what clients want survey

One of DBC’s main roles is conducting research on behalf of designers — researching the stuff Greg and I would have liked to know when we ran a design studio. Our latest research aims to build on an exercise conducted in the UK.  It’s investigating the relationship between clients and their creatives.

We’d love as many Australian designers as possible to share the survey with their clients – the large and the small, the regular and the once-off. And we’d also like you to share it with other designers. The more responses, the better the insights.

So you understand what we’re asking of your clients, here’s a rundown of the type of questions:

  • The survey is anonymous but we ask about their industry sector and annual design budget
  • What is their main business challenge?
  • What is their main aim when sourcing creative?
  • How they source design suppliers and how they prefer to source design suppliers.
  • Whether their design suppliers regularly exceed expectionations.
  • Is their design supplier reliable/how they react to briefs/do they understand business.
  • We ask what they would like to see/hear in a 45 minute new business pitch.
  • We ask how they use designer’s websites and why and when they ask designers to pitch for their business.
  • Finally we ask how designers can stop being pigeon-holed by clients.
  • Oh, and we ask a few questions around budgets and costings.
  • And we ask if COVID has/will change they way they work with designers and if they have any additional insights to share.

We’ve deliberately used multiple choice to try to save client’s time, but we don’t want to put words in their mouth so each question gives them the chance to add narrative. It’s been road tested with some of our (past) loyal clients and in average it’s taking just 6 minutes.

To make it easier to share the survey with your client(s), I’ve written a suggested email preamble:

Hi xxx

The Design Business Council – one of our industry associations – is conducting research into the relationship between designers and their clients.

We designers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to guess what our clients want. The survey aims to help remove the guesswork by asking clients directly; what’s working and what’s not?

It’s anonymous and will take around 6 minutes. I’d be grateful if you could take part — link to the What clients want 2020 survey.

Results will be shared late August.


Thank you, we look forward to sharing the results and the comparison between Australian and UK clients.
As always, happy to discuss, just email.

Carol Mackay

If this article was of interest to you, you might also like:

What clients want

It’s not a client’s job

How to think like a client

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After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, I pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry. Now with the Design Business Council I use my experience, and research, as a design mentor and coach. I help designers build robust, sustainable businesses, and help businesses integrate, and profit from, design.

The core of the DBC is the building a design community – over 85% of designers work in businesses with less than 5 employees, many less than 3. That means designers don’t have the same support network of other professionals. The DBC’s solution is supplement paid gigs with mentoring breakfast meet-ups, informative UNseminars and practical workshops in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

An archive of her design work at
Her current work can be viewed at and

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