Knowing how to work with your graphic designer is an important element in making sure you’re satisfied with the final product. When projects go off the rails, it’s usually because communication breaks down between the designer and their client – leading to budgets being squandered, schedules being blown, and unnecessary hard feelings. Let’s take a look at what the client can do to help control the process, and ensure a positive experience for them and their team.
Before the project
1: Before you choose a designer, shop around.
Look at lots of portfolios and, when available, lists of clients and testimonials. This is remarkably easy today thanks to the Internet. Many designers specialize in specific industries, or have a specific style that they work with, while others only work in either print or Web, and some have very diverse skill sets.
2: Find a designer you trust and build a long-term, multi-project relationship with them based on mutual professional respect.
If you don’t “click,” with a designer, don’t hire them. Even a relatively small project is going to require you to work closely with your designer for at least a couple of weeks. On the other hand, the longer and more often you work with a trusted designer, the easier subsequent projects become.
3: Think about what your goals for the project are; determine the measurable results you expect to see.
This will give you an objective way to determine whether or not your project is successful. Remember, graphic design is all about communicating a specific message to your target audience. The measure of success won’t necessarily be whether or not you “like,” a design – it will be how well that design communicates with your market.
During the process
4: Be ready to answer lots of questions about your business.
A responsible designer is going to need to know as much as possible about the history, purpose and goals of your company or organization. They’ll want to know as much as possible about your competition. We’re not being nosy – just doing our job
5: Do your homework.
The questions we referred to in tip #4 are important and you need to be able to answer as many of these questions as you can, as thoroughly as possible. Giving well thought out, accurate, complete answers will mean the difference between the success or failure of your marketing or branding project.
6: Be as specific as possible; if you have a specific look in mind, find an example and bring it in.
Saying you want something “cool,” or “edgy,” isn’t very useful unless you have examples you can show us.
If you’re seeing something you don’t like, point it out as early in the process as possible. The further along in the project you, are the more difficult, time consuming, and expensive it is to make changes. Conversely, if something is awesome, let you designer know that as well.
8: Let your designer do their job.
Remember, you chose them for their expertise (see tip #2). Listen to their reasoning, and if it’s logical, give it weight against your personal likes and dislikes. After all, the design is targeted to your audience, not your personal tastes.
9: Select a point person/ultimate decision maker on your end of the process.
Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup. The entire process will go more smoothly, be more enjoyable – and ultimately satisfying – if there’s one final decision maker with ultimate veto power who has authority to communicate with the creative team.
After the project is delivered
10: Debrief with your team.
What worked, what didn’t, and why? Did the process meet your expectations? Did the project meet it measurable goals as laid out in tip #3? Always keep communication open and honest—a great tip for the design process, and for everyday life as well!
11: Understand and pay your bill.
Review the expenses and fees compared to the estimate. You should have a contract, estimated fees and expenses, and work change documentation to compare to. If anything looks inaccurate, bring it up right away!
And don’t forget…
Enjoy the process! It should be fun, exciting, and enlightening to create your visual identity or to refine it with a new website, business cards, stationery or brochures.