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Three Tips for Starting a Project with Your Designer

By on July 16th, 2018 in Design

As a designer, I’ve worked on many projects that didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped – which means multiple proofs, and in some cases, a complete redo. Usually the biggest culprit for wasted time and energy is a lack of communication. Sometimes clients mistakenly believe that we instinctively know what they want, so they turn over their project to us with little or no information or direction and tell us to “work our magic”.

There are many creative avenues that can be taken, so giving us adequate direction will help jump start design inspiration. The more information designers can collect from the customer, the better equipped they will be to deliver a product that gets results.

Customers are typically paying by the hour for design work, so doesn’t it make sense to get all the details of the project worked out at the start of the project – even before turning it over to the graphic designer?

Let’s look at three simple steps that will save time and money (and also make your designer happy):

  1. Supply all pertinent information up-front.
  2. When designers start a project, they assume the client has provided as much information as they had available. Please don’t assume that we know your company as well as you do! If we don’t have a regular working relationship with your company, we probably won’t know the terms familiar to your products and services, or even the contact information or address of all your business locations. Sure, we can gather some information from your website or Facebook page, but researching that just adds time to the job. If your job was quoted for two hours of design time, wouldn’t you rather have more time dedicated to the creative aspects of the project instead of the research? Your designer certainly does!

    If you have a pre-conceived notion of what you would like the piece to look like, discuss it with your sales rep or designer. Give us some solid ideas of what kind of artwork you envision, or maybe a specific theme that the artwork could follow. Many customers search Google images or stock photography sites and email examples to the designer. We don’t mind that, but we do reserve the right to suggest other images based on our creative instinct. Vague or abstract suggestions may make it more difficult for the designer to come up with a solution. Rather than say “make it pop” and offer no other direction, be more precise with your request. For example, the designer would immediately know how to proceed if you said “eliminate the background of the photo to make our product stand out more”.

    You can save time and make it easy on the designer by supplying all of the copy in a Word document. Don’t bother formatting the text or adding color to headlines, we’ll take care of that on our end. Add notes as necessary. For instance, indicate in the Word document where you might like to see a certain photo, or highlight text that can be eliminated, if necessary. Be sure to indicate what is the most important aspect to emphasize. Is it the rate? The quality of your product? Or maybe the service after the sale? A professional designer will look at all copy and make their own determination of what is most important, but we can’t guarantee that it will coincide with what you had intended to highlight.

  3. Provide descriptive feedback
  4. On rare occasions, the first proof a designer provides will be perfect. 99% of the time, though, there will be revisions that need to be made. At this stage of the project, customer input is crucial. Designers may love abstract artwork, but when it comes to client feedback they are looking for instructions that are crystal clear. Don’t just say “I don’t like it”. Be specific! By “it” do you mean the layout? The images? The colors used? Help your designer break down the components of the piece to determine the area(s) that you feel need improvement.

    Clients should be as descriptive as possible when providing feedback to the designer. Say for instance, the headline needs to be bigger. Or the color you’ve chosen looks too much like our competitor’s branding. Designers are open to other points of view, so we are not offended when clients return a proof with revisions. The clearer those revisions are, the fewer proofs will be necessary.

  5. Have faith in the designer’s abilities
  6. Don’t take it personally if we take liberties with some of the suggestions you make. It may appear that we are ignoring you, but based on our knowledge or experience, we know that the suggestion you made will not turn out as you had hoped. As an example, if you provide a photo for a billboard design, we will be most concerned with its size and resolution. We want to ensure overall quality, so if the photo you provided was the size of a postage stamp, we know that it can’t be enlarged much without becoming blurry. Therefore, we will request a new photo or suggest a similar stock photo. Ultimately, you can trust us to make recommendations that we believe will result in an improved product.

    Having faith in the designer’s abilities means allowing him or her space to exercise some creative freedom. I am not saying you need agree with everything the designer does. If the project is heading in a direction you don’t like, be sure to voice your concerns. Ask questions and seek explanations, if needed. Be certain that there wasn’t a breakdown in communication at some point along the way.

    Your designer looks to you as an expert in your field. We value your input and suggestions because we know no one knows your business better than you do. In turn, we hope that you would give us the same consideration. Overall, our goal is to work hard to earn your respect and deliver a product that you’ll love!