Fans of The Princess Bride are well familiar with Vizzini’s cry of “Inconceivable!” He uses it so many times that his henchman, swordfighting master Inigo Montoya remarks, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That’s the issue we, as designers, run into on a regular basis with our clients. Sometimes, your client is talking about one thing, when what they actually mean is something different altogether. They just may not be able to articulate exactly what that precise thing is.
This is what I like to think of as The Ultimate Resolution. Though a client may not be able to spell it out, it’s our job to cut straight to the heart of the matter, figure out what their goal is, and produce it. It’s why we're their designer: to make things clean, simple, and to express an idea cleanly and succinctly.
So the next time a client asks for something you find inconceivable at first glance, or becomes overwhelmed with minute details about making things incrementally larger or smaller, brighter or shinier, remember what the ultimate goal of the project is. Is it for the user to click a button? Fill out a response? Request more information? Take their concerns into consideration and design in the true spirit of what they mean. And then explain how and why you arrived at that conclusion so everyone's on the same page. They’ll be glad you did!
Check out this “Inconceivable” montage: