A client says to the designer, “Design me a great website”.
The designer builds this most amazing website. I mean it is just truly fabulous!
The client looks at the website and says ‘It just won’t do’.
The designer is outraged. ‘What on earth is wrong with it? It’s great!’
The client sighs and says ‘It doesn’t work on mobile; It’s only in English and 60% of our users are in Asia; and it doesn’t align with our company values. It’s difficult for our support team to use all day every day, and there’s no way we can easily update it without calling you in again’.
The designer is aghast, “You never mentioned any of that before!”.
“You didn’t ask”, says the client.
Well, it depends.
As a User Experience designer, your primary focus should be on the user I guess. At least I’d look at your work from the perspective on how it benefited the people who actually used the systems designed by you.
On the other hand, you’re an employee of your client.
If the needs of your users and the business objectives of your client are strongly connected, and you don’t care about those, then yes, you’re a bad designer I guess. Design is about satisfying needs in constructive ways.
If user needs and client objectives aren’t strictly related, then it depends. I guess you still have to respect the enterprise of your employee, while of course you have to persuade her/him to do something which is actually needed by people. Of course you also have to persuade users a bit, as far as it doesn’t get annoying.
It’s called “creating demand”: it was said, for example, that noone needs a camera in a cellphone: a cellphone is to call other people. Try to find one without a camera nowadays. Of course, it’s not necessarily important to have a camera, but I doubt if it actually hurts. It sure hurt some people’s wallet. But I still think it was perfectly OK to press people a bit towards phones with a camera, even through the interaction model of the device. Fortunately, noone is actually required to buy them…
That said, the line ther is thin: you can easily fall to the other side of the horse, and employ so-called dark patterns.
If the needs of your users and clients are downright opposite, I’d cancel the partnership.
At least, understand the business model fully to decide which one is the case. I think that’s pretty important.
Though you still need to update your question, I’d like to point out that the business model doesn’t always really matter that much, depending on the situation.
Take, for example, the ATM. Do you really care how the bank is making money with the funds in your account? Probably not. You probably just want money from your account. In this case, it could be argued that the business model doesn’t really affect the interaction design aspects of the experience.
But the business model always affects your designs indirectly. Their model helps to determine what you’re designing in the first place, but not what you’re designing specifically.
As with all good design answers: it depends.