The more and more I do graphic design for customers who are not close friends and family, the more and more I run into problems. Generally what I try to do is meet with the customer (face to face if at all possible) and then draw up some comps for them to look at... the problem I run into more often than not is that my customers, no matter how much I explain it, seem to not understand the concept of comps. I feel like my skill is looked down on by my customers when they see the comps and they, for some reason, think I am showing them a sheet of final products to chose from. Either that, or they just hate them all because none of them ARE a final product.
Finally, I just skipped the comp phase for a product and created a finished product for a customer (I like to call that the Steve Jobs approach... "The customer doesn't know what they want until I tell them what they want" or something to that effect). This... turned out poorly, he did not like the design at all because it was not what he was thinking... comps in this case would have saved me 6 hours of work!
So, what do I do? How you guys handle this? Thanks!
I still do comps, but not as much as I used to. Sometimes I'll do a comp for myself before I get on the computer. It comes down to what type of project it is and who the client is and what they become accustomed to seeing on a regular basis.
Remember, even if the customer tells you they do not like what you've come up with in your comp(s), you still served a purpose and you've discovered via a round about way what they were/are looking for. It's a path of discovery. Unfortunately, you end up eating the first round. Don't get frustrated and/or discouraged. Instead, invest more time in listening and researching a way to solve the client's problem(s). Then attack the layout, perhaps polishing it a bit more than they expect(ed). Also, see if you can run the concepts by someone else before presenting them to the client. You might get some useful feedback upfront. The seduction of the computer will not help you until you get the creative down and approved. Something is missing in your presentation. But, without seeing an example, I am only grabbing at straws.
How many different concepts are you presenting in comp form? I understand what you mean when you say the client is confused at what they are looking at. This makes your presentation skills more important than ever. And, yes I have presented computer comps that went down in flames. Again, it's part of the process.