I often hear designers talk about how they need to do 2 or 3 mockups for a project so the client can pick their favourite.
Back when I was starting out as a web designer, I undertook some work for a design firm. I too remember at the time being asked to come up with 2 or 3 mockups for each project that went my way, then the sales guy would show them to the client and the client would pick their favourite.
Never supply a client with more than one option
You should have final decision based on your expertise. If you show a client two mockups and one has navigation down the left and one along the top and ask "which is your favourite?" you're degrading your expertise. You should know what the best option is and be able to back up your design decisions.
There's a good story in Yes! 50 secrets from the science of persuasion about jars of jam for sale in a supermarket. Give the customer too many options, they'll get confused and walk away. Narrow the options and they're more likely to buy it.
Same goes with design. Presenting too many options over complicates things and the customer thinks about it too much.
They'll also pick the option you didn't want them to pick. Trust me, it'll happen.
More work for you
Why produce more work for yourself? If you're spending a number of days researching, wireframing and mocking up for one design, why would you want to do that all over again? Put all your effort and attention into one design, the one that you believe, as a professional, works best for your client.
If you split your workload in two, the outcome is going to be two half-assed efforts, rather than one full-ass.
Client isn't getting the best
If you have to come up with more than one design it undoubtedly means that your first design isn't the best, or your second design isn't the best. If they were the best, there would be no need for another design.
One mockup allows you to focus all your expertise and attention to what you feel is the best solution for your client.
But what if my client doesn't like it?
You can't always get it right first time but you can take on board their feedback and iterate.
Make sure you encourage good feedback. Good feedback includes a good reason as to why they don't think something will work.
e.g. "I don't like blue" is not good feedback. "I don't think the blue works because it's very corporate and we want to show our customers we're fun and creative" is a lot better as now you know the reason behind their thinking so you can work with this, plus they're keeping their users and target market in mind instead of letting personal preferences get in the way.
You can then go and make the necessary amendments to satisfy each of the feedback points.
What do you think?
Some designers can't help it and are told to produce 2, 3 or 4 mockups. Some maybe prefer to do it this way.
What's your approach? Do you present more than one mockup? Is it your choice or are you made to?