Many times, I encounter a client that has never experienced working with a professional or freelance graphic designer. Therefore, they typically don’t have any idea what goes into the design process, what the process looks like or what to expect from a graphic designer. Even interacting with a graphic designer can leave them at a loss. If you don’t have much experience with it, you may be slowing down the process or even making your design less effective without realizing it. This is never a problem, I love teaching people the ins and outs of the design process. Today, I am going to be giving you my top five tips for working with a graphic designer to eliminate any confusion, streamline the design process and utilize your designer to their best ability, from a designer point of view. You may ask why is this important. … Well, let me explain to you so you can become more efficient when working with a graphic designer!

Step 1: Be clear & have an idea.

The clearer you are in your vision or goal, the happier you’ll be with the end result. This may seem self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many people will come to me with no clue what they are wanting, hoping that the “I’ll know it when I see it” method will work. This method typically doesn’t work well – especially if you’re on a budget.  If you genuinely don’t know what you are looking for or what direction is best for your project, be sure to have a conversation to communicate with your designer as many details about your design project as possible. We will be able to give you some ideas or a direction to use as a starting point. Make sure that you’re both on the same page design-wise before you give the okay for your designer to get started on the project.

Step 2: Allow enough time.

Often, clients don’t realize how long it takes to create graphics. Sometimes it takes only an hour to design something. … Other times it could take three hours to just make a few edits. Often times designers need anywhere from three days to two weeks, including revisions, to complete a design project and many designers could even charge a rush fee if you decide you need something last minute or sooner than their typical timelines. If you’re unsure how much time your project might take, get ahold of your designer before it’s too late so that neither of you are scrambling to get everything together.

Step 3: Steer clear of vague descriptions.

This is the most unhelpful piece of feedback on the face of the planet and, unfortunately, these are things we designers hear all the time. “Make it pop” is not very constructive. What, exactly does that mean, anyway? If you’ve done this already, it’s okay, we still love you (and to be fair, you’re not the only one). But here is what you can do next time: instead of using vague descriptions when requesting changes from your designer, try to figure out what about the project you’re loving and what you’re not. Take your time and be as specific as you can.

  • Do you like the fonts?
  • Does the text need to be larger?
  • Should the colors to be bolder or softer?
  • Do you like the layout or is it the graphics you’re not liking?

Literally, anything that has any detail at all will be way more helpful in the end and we will be able to revise the project more specifically to your taste rather than just playing the “Guessing Game”.

Step 4: Trust in your designer.

Yes, this is a tough topic. Why? Well…. Occasionally we’ll have a client that nit-picks the entire design so much that they have practically redesigned the whole thing themselves. Even though the client obviously ends up with a design they’re happy with (which is all that truly matters), they don’t realize that there are a ton of design rules that we are trained to follow, for both aesthetic and psychological reasons, in order to make your design the most effective. If you’re working with a good designer, we are not making design choices at random; so trust me, there is a reason behind every decision made. This is not to say you can’t request changes or give suggestions! You should always make change requests if you’re not completely happy with your design. These changes can end up being really great ideas, so don’t hold ’em back! Just be aware of how much you may be changing the design and remember that you hired a graphic designer for our skills.

Final Step: Finalize your copy/content before sending it over to the designer.

One of the most frustrating scenarios as a designer is to start a project only to have the content you’re designing around be changed a million times. Not only is this super redundant, but your designer probably didn’t get a degree in writing and communications; therefore, they cannot accurately proof grammar or mistakes in your content. This means you will end up paying for more revisions for no other reason than you hadn’t finalized your content before handing it over to your designer. That seems silly, right?? There are also the occasional clients who will come to us without their content ready, hoping I can begin the design and “plug” in the content later. This might seem like an easy thing thing to do. However, this method is difficult to implement since the design itself is based completely on and around the content provided. My job is to make sure the audience catches the important information first and that their eyes move down and across the page, absorbing content seamlessly. Remember those design rules I was talking about? Hierarchy of content is one of them but becomes super difficult to implement when you don’t have any content to work with or the content is being changed throughout the revisions.  

Some extra tips when working with a designer:

  • Please don’t expect perfection in the first draft. There’s a reason it’s called “a first draft.” It’s a starting point. This is where your input is crucial, and a good designer will appreciate any suggestions and constructive criticism (most designers LOVE criticism).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions; You are paying the designer for a creative process and a point of view, but you are still the client. “The client is always right!” Right? If the image or direction we selected confuses you, then ask us to explain why. Rein us in if necessary, we can get carried away with creativity sometimes. If anything confuses you it may possibly confuse your audience as well.
  • It’s “easy” to use terms like “throw this together” and “simple” when referring to either a specific round of edits/revisions or a turnaround for a project, but you may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place for that to happen. Good designers are equipped with the talent and skills to work quickly and efficiently, but we are still human and design still takes time.  
  • At all costs – avoid grabbing a logo or photo off of a google or any company website. Images pulled from the Web are low-resolution and do not reproduce well digitally or on printed pieces, and furthermore, I will cry if you give me inappropriate file types.

In the end, trust your instincts. Make sure you get that “YES!” feeling in your gut. This is what your designer is striving to do for you. Your designer is an important part of the design, but ultimately, you make the final call. Hopefully, these few guidelines will help you work with a fantastic graphic designer with clear communication and respect for each other, helping you forge a great team that will grow your business.