As someone who struggles to draw anything more complex than stick men, I’m certainly not a person who could be considered a ‘creative.’ However having worked with creative people in a professional capacity for most of my working life, I can definitely appreciate that the way in which a designer’s brain works is significantly different from my own.
Design, whether it be web design, logo design, mobile web design or any other kind, is all about communication and collaboration. If these basic principles are not understood when working with creative people, it can lead to many frustrations throughout the design process, not just for yourself but your designer as well.
Just as a writer is not simply someone who can use a keyboard, a graphic designer is not just someone who can use graphic design software. It’s important to be open minded to new concepts, at the end of the day you are paying for their ideas and opinions as much as their skills in Photoshop.
For many of our clients, their first experience working with a creative person is when they begin working with our team on their website design or logo design project.
So how do you work with a creative person to get the most out of them and ultimately the best result for yourself? Striking the right balance between conveying the direction you want to take a design, while still giving the designer the creative freedom to feel inspired and come up with fresh concepts, is really an art form in itself.
To help you get the most from your next creative design process, here are my top 5 tips for working with a designer:
Trust your designer
You are paying for their expertise and skills, so let them help you. You can be confident that your designer probably knows more about design and its visual impact on your customers than you do. After all they have studied design, they live and breathe design, and they do this for their chosen profession. Give them the same professional courtesy you would when seeking the advice of a lawyer, accountant or any other professional services. If you ask for something and the designer explains to you why this isn’t a good idea, you should probably listen.
Don’t design by committee
Ever heard the saying ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’? Well that same adage also holds true of decision makers in a design process. Too many people voicing opinions ultimately leads to a less effective design, often riddled with conflicting ideas because it is trying to please everybody. It will almost always lead to a frustrated and uninspired designer who is receiving contradictory feedback from multiple people all trying to design to their own agendas. Whilst it’s a good idea to seek opinions and input from a select group of friends, family and other trusted sources; there should ultimately be a single decision maker and point of contact on any design project.
Be clear with your brief
Often clients are afraid of giving too much direction with a design, not wanting to influence the designer with their thoughts and ideas. Unfortunately this then leads to the other extreme of not supplying any direction at all. If you don’t have any strong ideas on layout or design then that’s fine, you don’t need to design it for them, but you do need to give some clear direction as a starting point. It can be as simple as explaining what you are trying to convey to your customers with the design, providing some colours you like, and providing some visual cues as mentioned in tip number 4.
Provide visual cues
Your designer can probably tell more about what you like from the visual aids you send them in your brief than anything else. A handful of links to other websites you like or logos from other companies you have seen will help the designer identify common features you may not have thought to mention. Ultimately designers are visual people, so sending them visual cues as to your preferences will help them get a better overall picture of your preferences.
Give constructive and specific feedback
Don’t just say, ‘I don’t like it, make it better.’ This sort of feedback offers nothing of real value that the designer can work with. Explain what don’t you like about the design and why. If you aren’t happy with a colour or layout idea then try to be specific about the elements bugging you. Often a design can be one small change away from perfection, so help the designer pinpoint the problem by avoiding vague comments and unhelpful feedback.
Remember that you are an integral part for the design process, so getting the most out of your designer can often come down to being a good client. Knowing how to communicate your ideas effectively to a creative person will ultimately lead to a better design outcome for you, and a better working relationship with your designer.