As a consultant who helps customers define their projects, and as an engineer who does design work, I constantly have to remind myself of the concept I call “I know it when I see it”.
For those projects where the end results are customized and unique, most customers do not know exactly what they want until they see it. Seeing it might be for the first time as a written scope, drawings, 3D model, prototype, mock-up, and/or previous example. Once there’s a representation of what the end result could be, the customer has the opportunity to decide if that is what he or she really wants. Until then, it is the designer’s guess as to what the customer wants based on how the customer can describe their needs and wants.
It can be very frustrating to make second guesses, spend the time to do a design, and then to only find out that the customer wants to make changes. The customer has a right to change their mind and get what they really want and need. The key is for the designer to get the customer involved early on in the decision making to keep the changes to a minimum and reduce re-work. If the designer can help the customer to “see” what the end result will be as the project evolves, there’s a better chance of success at the end when the customer will say, “yes, that is exactly how I wanted (envisioned) it”.
For the designer, it is simply “seeing” the project through the customer’s eyes.