When working with graphic designers, it helps to understand their language. Avoiding requests that may annoy them, and being aware of their pet hates, can eliminate unnecessary bumps in the road. This may lead to a final output you’re happier with, in a quicker time.
Don’t make these key mistakes when speaking to a designer, and your process of working with them is likely to be a lot smoother.
- Can you make it pop?
Words I’m pretty sure make every designer shudder. What does that mean?! Be specific. Avoid terms like these with no reference to what you’re envisioning or a clear direction of what you’d like. As talented as they may be, they will not be able to read your mind.
- Do you mind jazzing it up a little?
- There’s no budget but this project will give you great exposure! Are you in?
Exposure does not pay bills. Just as I’m betting you don’t get paid in ‘exposure’, a designer cannot survive without being paid, no matter how much ‘exposure’ you think it will give them. Be understanding of their talent and time, and pay them accordingly.
- Can we include this image I’ve found on Google?
Images on Google have various copyright issues, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lift specific images that you think are perfect. You can send over images which capture what you’re thinking, but the final images will likely be stock photos that either the designer has access to and permission for, or which you purchase.
- We haven’t pinpointed the target audience yet. Can you start without that information?
The designer should have a full comprehensive creative brief before starting. This should include content, copy, audience, sizing and distribution plans, all which may change elements of the design. Provide as much information as possible to boost the design’s effectiveness.
- Something’s not quite right, but I’m not sure what it is. Can you fix it?
You need to know what you want. If the designer presents something that doesn’t match your vision, articulate what is missing the mark and needs tweaking. Expressing what you want changed and how will speed up the process and make you happier with their work as you’ll see it become closer to your vision.
- I don’t like it. Can you change it?
Remember, the design you get back is the designer’s piece of work. Just as you would hate for a piece of work you do to be criticised with no respect for the time you’d taken to complete it, the same goes for a graphic designer!
Offer constructive feedback even if it doesn’t live up to what you were expecting. If you’re commenting on something you don’t like, identify what and why, and offer a suggestion on how it can be improved. Be respectful and remember someone has worked hard on it.
- Do you offer unlimited revisions?
When negotiating on fee or confirming terms, this is a question to avoid. Although a designer may be happy to make a few revisions after a first draft and initial feedback, there has to be a limit to the back and forth, otherwise the project could be never ending.
- Can you do something that looks like this?
It’s fine to have a vision board, or give examples you like to demonstrate the designer what you’re envisioning, but no designer will want to directly copy another design. A good designer has their own creative offering and aesthetic, they’ll want to stay true to this and not mimic other designers for your project.
- Can you get it done by this afternoon?
Be considerate of their time. Just as you have deadlines, they’re juggling various projects, with multiple clients issuing demands. They may not be in a position to bump things up for you. Consider their schedule.
- Can you make one more quick change?
The likelihood is that you’ll need another change – both you and the designer will know this! Avoiding this promise removes the awkwardness of having to say this again at a later stage.
Additionally, when you ask for something ‘quickly’, unless you have in-depth design knowledge, you don’t know how long this change will take a designer, don’t assume!
- Can you send me the working files?
This releases control of the finished design from the designer. You could completely alter the design, or mess up the formatting, but the designer will still be associated with the project. Many won’t be comfortable with giving over their work for someone else to edit it.
- I trust you, are you happy to do what you think is best?
Whilst it’s great to give the designer creative freedom, they will also need direction to do a successful job. To get the desired result, it will need to be a collaborative process, so don’t make the mistake of giving no direction. It will only work to slow down getting to the final product.
- Can you get our logo from online?
You should ideally make life as easy as possible for the designer so that they can focus their creative energy on your design. Equip them with a high-res version of your logo. This ensures they have an up to date and high-res version to work with which may save revisions down the line and improve the final product’s quality.
- We also need x, y and z, can you deliver on these designs too?
You should be upfront with what is expected from the beginning of the project. This allows both parties to set their terms and expectations. The designer will have committed based on this.
When asking designers to do more work, expect another conversation on fees and deadlines, and understand they may not have capacity. Also, if you do this multiple times it may seem as if you don’t have a complete overview of your project.
Like any working relationship, liaising with a graphic designer is one you need to build. The best results will come from clear communication, consideration of their time and openness to what is presented. Creating a design that encapsulates what you envision should be a collaborative process. You both want the same outcome – a great design! Work together, and make it as easy as possible for the designer to understand what you’re looking for and when by, so that they can deliver something great that you’re happy with, in good time.