Trust Your Graphic Designer
This week I’ve decided to put together a few simple tips that I hope will help anyone who is looking for a graphic designer. Feel free to comment at the end of the post if you have any useful tips of your own, designer or client!
There is no such thing as a perfect client/designer relationship. The industry is so unique, influenced by many areas of design, platforms, applications and technology, that it’s normal to have clients who ‘get it’ and others who have no idea what it’s all about. And why blame them? Our job as a graphic designer is to help the client understand what type of service we can provide, what they are going to get out of it and how we can help them with their business.
Choosing a designer
It’s the same as trying out a new restaurant, hairdresser or hotel – most people go on recommendation. You know that if your friend had a good experience, chances are you will too. If you don’t know of anyone who has used one, you hit Google search for designers in your area or look them up in a directory.
There are many types of designers, with different skill sets (branding, web design, print…), so it’s important to ask them first if they are able to produce x, y and z.
What should you look out for? A good portfolio is key. Experience is also a good sign that they know their business, although this experience doesn’t always come in years. Other than that, nothing beats a face to face. A casual coffee meeting gives you both the chance to get to know each other, ask questions and see how you get on. You should come out feeling assured and relaxed, knowing what you’re going to get and with an idea of the costs involved. Things can and do change in the course of a project, but having a good and clear starting point is essential.
The Design Process
It all starts with a good brief. If you’re not sure what to include or how to create one, ask the designer to send you a questionnaire. These will be things they need to know to able to start the design process. Take the time to go over everything together, making sure you both know where you stand and what you want to achieve. Many brush over this stage and rush straight into design – I find the brief acts as a ‘third person’ in the relationship: something you can refer to and use to justify your actions if need be.
Nobody knows your business better than you; however your designer will need to start off by conducting some research of their own into your industry, your competitors and your company. You might be surprised by what they find - an outsider’s point of view can be very rewarding.
Trust is one of the main things you need to establish during the course of the project, after all, why are you hiring a designer? Because you don’t have the skill or expertise. They know how to translate what you want into a reality, and the more you communicate during the course of the project the better (remember to give the designer the space and time they need in order to actually design!). With deadlines set and good communication, you can both feel in control and know where you are each step of the way.
It can be very tempting to try and steer your designer or tell them the way you think it should be done. Having an opinion is fine, but be sure to take a step back and listen – the last thing you want to do is put them off and make them create something they know is wrong or not as good as it should be, just to please you. Remember, you are paying them for their expertise and creativity – let them deliver.
The Finished Product
Once you’re at the end of the design process, take a step back (maybe even take a break from it for a couple of days) and revisit the original brief. Make sure all key points have been covered. It’s now time to put your product into practice, test them out and evaluate how your clients and staff respond to it.
Are you getting a positive response? Can you see the benefit of your investment? Time will tell – look back at your experience and how the designer detected faults, solved them, created new and engaging pieces of communication and understood your market.
Things to remember:
- You may know your business, but not theirs
- Ask if you don’t understand
- Remember why you hired them
- Be patient
- Enjoy the process