So you’ve decided it’s time to invest in a designer and hired one, how do you make sure the process goes smoothly? Every designer has their own process, but no matter who you work with, it’s important to communicate your thoughts clearly. That seems easy enough, but if you’ve never worked with a designer before, it can be intimidating! Here are a few things to consider:
1. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t like something.
Design is personal, and I think a lot of people don’t want to say they don’t like something out of fear of hurting the designers feelings. But you know what? It’s part of the job, and we are used to it. We’ve probably heard worse! In fact, sometimes I will design something I know isn’t going to be the perfect fit for the client in order to start a conversation, especially if the client is looking to find balance between two extremes. By designing to one of those extremes, I can get specific feedback from the client to help me understand what elements are going to work, and where that line of too much is drawn. When you’re first discussing the direction of a project, the concepts can be very abstract, so by translating them into real design elements, I can start to understand what the client is visualizing for their project. So, you see, sometimes I want you to tell me you don’t like it!
2. Be specific, and tell the why.
That said, simply saying you don’t like something, or it’s not insert-adjective-here enough isn’t really helpful. For example, say you want a cheerful design. Well, there are a lot of variations on cheerful! Is it a little too Hello Kitty cheerful when you were looking for Kate Spade cheerful? Everyone visualizes adjectives differently. Of course, if you chose a designer that fits your design aesthetic, you probably have pretty similar ideas of what cheerful means, but no two people think exactly the same. Take a few extra minutes to analyze why something isn’t working for you before you send feedback, and look for examples that are more in line with your vision.
3. Refer back to your goals.
Like I said, design is very personal, and you may be so close to the project that you forget your original goals. Something may not look exactly as you expected, but before you immediately dismiss it, refer back to your goals and ask yourself if what you see supports those goals. One of the reasons to hire a designer is for outside perspective, and there’s usually a reason behind every design decision we make. Start a discussion before you decide something isn’t for you!
4. Don’t design for us or ask us to copy.
This is a pet peeve of designers everywhere: when a client asks a friend of a friend who kind of knows Photoshop to Frankenstein our work, then asks us to recreate it. Or when a client says they want their site to be exactly like insert-popular-blog-here. Not that any of you would ever do that, right?! I understand that some people are more visual, and you need to play around with the mockup to understand and communicate what you really mean, but don’t do the design work for us (and definitely don’t ask us to copy another designer’s work!). You hired us for a reason, remember? If it’s easier for you to play around in Photoshop, then explain that to your designer, and make sure they understand that you ultimately trust their expertise.
Designers, what have you found most helpful when working with a client? Clients, what did you learn when working with a designer?