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Pointers For Working With a Graphic Designer

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How to work with graphic designers

Every small business will require the help of a suitable graphic designer for a number of a special task from creating marketing materials to designing progress report presentations. This task is essentially important but it can become very costly and time-consuming if the details are not handled properly.

After plenty of experience in working on either side of managing graphic design projects, I have compiled my extensive experience into the following eight pointers that can improve the experience for all involved.

1. Be Realistic When Establishing Time Frames

Agree with your designer on a fairly rigid timeframe for the project, be sure to emphasize points like first drafts, print-ready piece, final draft and other particulars. Remember that small tasks can take longer than you think and allow your designer to set their own time frames as much as possible. For example, it only takes a second to say, “the background needs to be cleared up” but the task itself can take a few hours if not a day’s work. There are many specialized skills that go into a professionally designed work.

2. Provide Examples

The best way to get a go on the design work would be to provide examples that you can have your designer emulate as much as possible. A picture is worth a thousand words and much can be lost in translation. You may not think it is your “job” to provide this information but try and remember that this is collaboration and you will take much of the creative and imaginative load off your designer by giving them a clear idea of your vision. The final product will be original but giving the artist a bit of a “boost” will lay down the essential foundation for the project.

3. Expect Room for Improvement on the First Draft

There‘s an important reason that it is called a “first draft”. Consider this the first step on this path that will eventually become a fully complete product as per your directions. This is where input will be essential not just on what you need changed but also on the elements you like and why you like them. These points will give the designer a direction to take the product.

4. Avoid Generalized Feedback

As clear as the image may be in your mind, saying something like “this needs more cowbell” really leaves a lot to the designer’s interpretation of “cowbell”. What is “wow factor” supposed to mean anyway? Specific examples of what you are talking about will provide you with a final product much closer to what you want. Furthermore, your designer will spend much less time trying to decipher your cryptic messages. Remember there is an important difference between “creative license” and expecting your designer to read your mind.

5. Consider All the Components

To make things easy, break the project down into each of the components when describing the project. Making comments on them as a category in their own will facilitate the communications and your perspective on your project. A client may not always know exactly what they want or even have a good visualization in their mind. Saying something like “I don’t like that.. At all” gives the designer little to work with.

Breaking the project down into a few simple elements will allow you to speak constructively about it. You can then say something like “The colors are all off and so is the images, but keep the fonts and overall aesthetic the same.”

Here the five main components of graphic design:

  • Fonts
  • Images
  • Color
  • Overall Aesthetic
  • Layout

6. Don’t be Too Controlling

Always allow plenty of room for the creativity and artistic input of the designer. One particularly disruptive dynamic that can develop is when the client begins to doubt the capacity of the designer and begins to adjust and micromanage every small aspect of the projects. This leads the designer to become sidelined from the creative process that is requiring and may inspire them to keep their artistic input to themselves and rob the final product of an important element.

What happened to cause this debacle? The designer was not sure of what the client wanted and this was mistaken by the client who assumes they don’t know what they are doing and begins to take the reins at every corner of the project. A good designer will be able to provide a solution to this but will need you to step off and gain some altitude and perspective yourself before attempting to communicate this to your designer. Once you are confident you have communicated all details of the project to your designer you will be able to go about your business and allow them to produce the next draft for your consideration.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Question

You are paying the designer for their capacity as a designer and their valuable creativity, but you are still the boss of this project and your perspective is first place. If they have selected an element, like an image, and their selection confuses you, ask them why they selected this image.

If you feel the inclusion was a step in the wrong direction steer the project back in the direction you need it to go. You probably know your audience best and if you felt confused, it is likely your audience will be confused as well. If you want to learn more about the subject so you’re better informed, check out this design school for info.

8. Time your Criticisms and Comments

It is easy to lose perspective when you are very close to the production. Be sure to take time to step back and gain perspective before demanding adjustments be made. If you hit a point that it doesn’t feel right, learn to recognize the point where adjustments can’t be made and you need to move on.

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