When working with someone to create the visual identity of your business, it can be hard to know the best way to explain yourself and your vision. It can be also hard to find someone that “just gets it.”
But whether you are working together to craft a brand identity, website or a simple poster. The design process is a collaborative experience that needs both parties to communicate and work together.
I have put together my top 5 tips to help you when you are working with a designer to make the process go a little smoother for everyone. I hope that this helps you in your journey crafting your tailored brand and designing your dream presence.
Tip #1 – Think about where you want to go.
The best designs don’t just look good, they also have a purpose or problem that they solve. When starting to work with a designer it is important to have a good idea of what you would like this process to do for you and your business.
Do you want to have more people recognize your brand?
Do you want to have more sales?
Would you like your website to allow people to purchase your products easier?
It is good to communicate what short-term and long-term business goals you would like to achieve. Knowing your goals is important because they allow the designer to know a target to reach with the design. Without a target to shoot towards the designer may have no way of knowing if the design is successful or what direction they should go in with the design.
Something else that will help focus the design process is knowing beforehand who your ideal customer is, and creating an avatar of them. Knowing who your business is targeting is very important to direct messaging and the alignment of the design. It is impossible to be loved by everyone so you need to be specific in who you are catering to.
Another key to a smooth design process is having a list of your local competitors. Knowing who your competitors are directs the design process to achieve your business goals and position your business. By strategically looking at your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, the designer can analyze what your competitors are doing right and look for opportunities that your business can do instead. Look closely at your competitors for inspiration on where to go with the design process.
If you think about where you are going to go with your business, the designer can help point you in the right direction through strategic design. Creating big things for the future of your business.
Tip #2 – Here to help.
Designers enjoy helping people and solving problems, so designers often love it when clients ask questions. No question is a silly question. Designers want to make sure the design process is straightforward and makes sense to everyone. If there is something you need more clarification on or if there are changes that need to be made, or simply something you are wondering about, please ask questions! You are not bugging the designer by doing so. All it takes is a quick email, and they will reply with an answer as soon as they can. And if it is a question that they don’t have the answer to they can recommend someone that can help.
Designers want to make sure everyone is on the same page. We want to ensure the process is clear, and the target and scope of the design are defined. The more we know the better. This is why we ask so many questions during the strategy portion of the design process. Designers want to make sure you do the same. Ask as many questions as you want so we know we are on the right track, on the same page, and not in a different book altogether.
Tip #3 – Design is a collaborative process.
There is probably a reason you hired your designer in the first place.
It might have been you have too much on your plate already and you need to take some off of it.
Or that you tried to do it yourself but realized designing your website was not your cup of tea.
Or even that you liked what they are all about and their style.
Whatever the reason may be that you hired the designer, it is essential to remember that they were hired because they are an expert. They have taken the time to study for many years perfecting their craft. When the designer makes recommendations please listen and consider them. Designers understand these are suggestions that you may not want to follow through with. Similarly, our clients may sometimes suggest ideas are too broad in scope, or fall outside of the goals of the project.
The design process is a collaborative experience where everyone must have an open mind about other people’s opinions, reasoning and thoughts. During the process, it is important to hear one another out and discuss the ideas that are being expressed, instead of shutting them down. This is true for both sides. You never know what someone will come up with. It might be something you didn’t think of.
Because the process is so collaborative, it is extremely important to find a designer that you vibe well with. If there is any conflict or lack of trust within the process, communication issues start to come up, and the process will start to go south.
Tip #4 – Give constructive feedback.
It is important to be nice and honest when working with a designer. When the designer is requesting edits for the design, they are looking for honest respectful feedback. The designer wants to know the reasoning behind your requests.
Why don’t you like that colour?
Why won’t this design element work?
Knowing the reasoning will help them have a better understanding of what needs to be changed, and how to move forward. Simply telling them you don’t like it is not very helpful, because they will have no direction to move forward with. But if you can provide constructive feedback it will make the process go smoothly.
Designers genuinely care about what you like about the design and we want to pinpoint exactly what you think needs improvement. The best way to provide feedback is to thoroughly explain your expectations, and make sure they are well understood.
A great way to provide feedback is through scaling questions. For example, you have just received the first drafts of your logo design, and are asked to explain your feelings about the design. I recommend thinking about your opinions on the logos on a scale of 1-10.
Where would the design fit in the scale?
Now go a step further by explaining why you feel the design is in that spot on the scale.
You may say something like: “I feel that this first logo design is a 7, because it is thoughtful, symbolic, and expresses the brand keywords well.”
Go even further by elaborating on what a 1 (Very Dissatisfied) looks like, compared to a 10 (Very Satisfied).
Then, you can say that “This design is a 7 because a 1 would mean it doesn’t represent the brand keywords at all. But it is not a 10 because our target audience probably wouldn’t like those colours.”
Setting out your expectations of what classifies a poor design and an excellent design, and where the design you received fits in that scale, is a great way to explain your feelings to your designers. Since everyone has a different opinion. It is best to always communicate your feelings constructively, honestly, and nicely, so we can figure out actionable steps to make the design better.
Tip #5 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T
In the design industry, it is not uncommon to hear horror stories about clients and designers ghosting each other. They will not reply to emails promptly, or not adhering to deadlines. (eek!) It is understood that people become busy. But both sides need to respect each other’s time and communicate effectively. We need to communicate, set and maintain boundaries of what is to be expected when working together.
If a client isn’t able to supply feedback or content on time, they should let the designer know. Or if a designer can’t meet a deadline for whatever reason then, they should let the client know.
It is common courtesy to respect one another’s time and be upfront and honest with anything during the project.
Those are my top 5 tips when working with a designer. Before the design process starts, remember to think about where you want your business to go in the future. Remember the designer is there to help you and answer any questions you might have. The design process is a collaborative experience. Always be respectful and honest when providing feedback.
Let me know if you have any more tips by continuing the conversation on Instagram @broadbentdesignstudio.