I've heard a few stories lately from people who've had less-than-great experiences with designers. I know it can be really disheartening to start working with someone only to find out they don't quite 'get' you, or to pay a lot of money for a design that doesn't make you want to jump up and down with excitement.
So, here are my top tips for cultivating a designer-client relationship that feels aligned, exciting and stress-free!
1. Find Your Perfect Match
Of course, you want to work with someone whose creative work you LOVE. But it’s equally important to make sure your designer is someone who really understands your vision and shares your values. The collaborative flow that happens when you and your designer are aligned feels like magic! The creative process is smooth sailing, communication is open, and the end product is better than you could have envisioned. Make sure you meet potential designers face to face (or over Skype) to get a feel for their personality, and trust your gut when it comes to choosing the right one to bring your vision to life.
Trust your gut when it comes to choosing the right designer to bring your vision to life.
2. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
You don’t have to know exactly what the end product is going to look like - that’s your designer’s job, after all! But designers are visual creatures, and we loving seeing images that illustrate what kind of vibe you’re looking for. Create a Pinterest board, and start collating examples of what you like and dislike - colours, fonts, photography, branding - with little notes attached. The more research you do beforehand, the smoother the design process will be. And don’t be afraid of sending through sketches! I’d much rather see a stick figure drawing than have to decipher an email explaining your idea.
Designers are visual creatures, and we loving seeing images that illustrate what kind of vibe you’re looking for.
3. Know Your Brand Story
Creating something pretty without first exploring the soul of your business is like building a house without laying the foundations...it’s not going to last! I send all my clients an in depth questionnaire covering their point of difference, values, ideal customer, brand positioning and much more. Don’t skim over the strategy aspect of the design process. Devoting time and energy to this key phase means you’ll avoid endless revisions down the track, and you’ll walk away with a design that truly embodies your brand.
Don’t skim over the strategy aspect of the design process.
4. Clarify your Brief
A clear and detailed brief is crucial for both you and your designer. Before you email any potential candidates, get crystal clear on the project specifics. Think timeline, budget, your vision for the design, and what the deliverables will be. Be as detailed as you can - it will save endless back and forth emails in the initial phase. It also helps your designer decide quickly if they’re a good fit for your project.
Before you email any potential designers, get crystal clear on the project specifics.
5. Give Constructive Feedback
The design process is a conversation, so don’t be afraid to have your say. Give your designer constructive and concise feedback within the given timeline, including any questions you may have. If you don’t like a concept, why not? Is it the colour? The font choice? Maybe the logo feels sharp and edgy but your brand vibe is soft and feminine. Also be sure to note what you love and the reasons why. If your feedback is vague or unclear, you’re likely to go down a path of endless revisions that’s sure to frustrate both you and your designer (not to mention drain your bank account).
The design process is a conversation, so don’t be afraid to have your say.
6. Be Open-Minded
You hired your designer for a reason… hopefully because they’re a creative badass and you love their work! Trust your designer’s experience and expertise. They’ll likely have ideas and perspectives you haven’t considered, and I can tell you from experience that a little creative freedom usually yields amazing results for you as the client. Your designer will also be able to let you know if that colour is going to send the wrong message, or if that font is a passing trend that you should avoid like the plague!
A little creative freedom usually yields amazing results for you as the client.
One last plea from me to you: never come to a designer and ask them to (however vaguely) copy someone else’s work. Firstly, it’s illegal. Secondly, it’s insulting to both the designer who did the work, and the one you’re asking to copy it. Besides, you’re worth more than a rip-off design! Wouldn’t you rather have something uniquely, radically yours?
Have you worked with a designer in the past? What did you love about the process? Is there anything you wish you'd known earlier?
Until next time,