Changing Expectations

First published on November 13, 2007 by Gilbert West. Context is important.

How To Manage A Website

Yesterday I picked up a book I hadn’t read for a while called, Making The Invisible Visible by Hillman Curtis. The book deals with web design and the process of understanding a client’s requirements. I was searching for a particular passage that confounds the commonly held notion that clients “don’t know what they want”.

When it was published in 2002 I found it very inspiring and it is still highly relevant today, although a lot of the web design techniques have been surpassed as new standards have emerged.

Leafing through the book looking for the quote I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t find it and was mentally pressing Ctrl+F in my head. I wanted to search the book and find the quote immediately. I wanted to be sitting in front of a PDF version of the book that I could search and get answers from in seconds.

It’s a beautiful book and of course once I had sat down with it and taken time to enjoy the book for what it was then my frustration soon disappeared.

Anyway, I did manage to find the passage in the end. And here it is…

“Often the most invisible aspect of any design job is your client’s desires. I have often heard from New Media designers that their clients “don’t know what they want”. In my experience this is never the case. It is simply not possible. Part of the process of making the invisible visible is pulling that often seemingly invisible desire out of the space between what the client says and what we hear. And to do that we need to pay attention.”


In actual fact the full title of the book is MTIV Process Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer but that’s quite of a mouthful and my version of the title conveys a lot more about what’s inside the book.