9 Tips for Working with a Graphic Designer
A well-designed product takes a lot of hard work to achieve. Not everyone will be able to conceptualize your idea and turn it into something tangible. That's what graphic designers are for - they are creative and can help your idea become a reality. A graphic designer who knows what they’re doing will be upfront with you in every aspect of development.
A good graphic designer will tell you the truth about how your idea sounds - if your idea will not work, they will tell you why. They will make sure you don’t incur unnecessary costs, and if they cannot do something, they’ll refer you to someone who can.
Here are a few tips that you can use while working with a graphic designer.
1. Provide a realistic timeframe
It is very important to give clear and realistic time frames of when you expect the work to be finished. A good graphic designer will always work on tight schedules. It would be unfair of you to give someone a job without considering their schedule, so plan your projects, and talk to the designer well in advance so you avoid last minute rushes. Make sure the time frame you set is well within both your and the designer’s needs. They have to be meticulous, but rushing the work just sets you up for disappointment and failure in the end. Have a planning meeting with the designer. Be clear on exactly what you need, and when you need it. The timeframe should include specifics. You should specify when you need the first draft, final proof, and the print-ready sample. Designing takes a lot of work, and while it may be easy for you to tell him to change something, it takes him hours of hard work to do it. It is only fair then that you provide a workable time frame.
2. Provide all necessary information
A graphic designer needs to have as much information as possible. Make sure you provide it from the beginning of the project. Be as detailed as possible about the product. Be clear about your end goals and the message you want to get across. Some designers will provide you with a questionnaire that outlines all the details needed.
Make sure you also have detailed notes that will help you answer the designer’s questions. The more information they have, the better the end product will be. Do not leave out details only to call them later with additional information, after they have already started the work. That will just throw them off course, and might cause them to have to restart the work. This means more stress for them, and more expense for you.
3. Keep an open mind
The reason you’re taking your ideas to a designer is that it's just that - an idea. The designer has the knowledge and capability to conceptualize your idea, and turn it into reality. Be open to new angles and advice. You may be very sure of your idea, and you might know exactly how you want it to look. The designer, on the other hand, knows what it takes to bring that idea to life. They knows what is possible and what is not.
So listen, and be open to changes. What you have in mind may not be the best, much as you think it is. A designer will look at your idea and identify its strengths and weaknesses. They will tell you exactly what you should expect. Keeping an open mind helps foster a good working relationship with the designer.
4. Provide samples
Give the designer an example to work with. This may be a previous project, or a style sheet they can look at. You could provide samples of design work that you like, and they will be able to take their cue from that.
Be creative, and do not plagiarize your competition’s design. That could land you in trouble with the law for violating copyrights. Design work is made successful by collaboration with your designer. The clearer they get your vision, the easier it is for them to create something unique, that is close to what you envision. Do not expect perfection in the first draft. They are still trying to conceptualize your idea. This is where you get to see how well they have grasped your concept.
5. Be bold, ask questions
This is your project. You have every right to ask questions along the way. No one expects you to understand design jargon, and for your project to be a success you should never be afraid to ask questions.
A good designer knows you will have questions about the process, and he will take the time to explain it. Yes, they are the designer, but you are paying for the work and you are the boss. If the design is not clear to you, the chances are that it will not be clear to your audience. Ask them to explain it.
6. Always give direct feedback
Once the project is underway and you get the first draft, don’t give vague feedback. Designers want you to give comments they can identify with. Pinpoint exactly what you do not like about it. If it’s the color you don’t like, say so, and say what color you would prefer it to be. If it’s the font you don’t like, say so.
Don’t expect the designer to be able to read your mind. This is a creative thought process of two different people. How they interpret your thoughts is, by and large, an interpretation of their thoughts. Unless you specifically tell them you want a darker blue for the headline, they will go ahead and use a blue they deem suitable.
7. Don’t be controlling
Don’t try to control the entire process. Give your input and let the designer come up with at least a first draft. You have to give space for the designer’s creativity to kick in. Trying to micromanage them will make them lose their creative spark - a sure-fire way to make them mentally disengage from the project. If that happens, it will be harder to get back on track.
Let the designer’s creativity work for you. Let them do what they think is best. When the first draft comes in, you can give your thoughts in a critique. Calling them all the time, and criticizing every move they make is a bad idea. Stop asking every few hours how far they have come, or you’ll exasperate them and lose the project before it has begun.
8. Be clear on the components
Graphic design is composed of five main components.
This is helpful to remember when giving feedback. It is not enough to say you don’t like it. Breaking down the components will make it easier for the designer to address specific issues. Critique the design, individually commenting on the components. Look at the fonts, make a comment, then move to the next component and so forth.
9. Don’t be an extreme perfectionist
Do not expect perfection to the point of obsession. Designing is a subjective process, and nothing is ever cast in stone. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. You have to work with the designer until you come to a compromise, and both of you are satisfied. Sometimes what is in your head isn’t always what comes out in reality.
It’s always good to take a step back. Get into your target audience’s shoes and look at it from their angle. It may not look as bad as you thought it did. If you need to, have a third party look at it.
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