Being a designer is hard. Like, really hard. Not only do you need to study and practice, and then study and practice some more, but then you begin the often grueling process of finding work. It’s worth it, though, because they get to do something they’re passionate about.
Well, they’re passionate about the actual design part. Managing the customer relationship? Usually not so much, largely because a lot of the people and companies who hire designers don’t necessarily understand everything that goes into a design job.
So to make life easier for everyone involved and encourage revelry in the joy of design, here are seven things designers wish their customers knew.
1. They can’t read your mind.
It’s great that you know you need some design work done, but you also need to know what you’re hoping to achieve with the design project. It’s important to provide as much detail as possible to the designer you’re working with, because otherwise they’re left playing guessing games. Don’t stop at saying you want something “clean and modern.” Talk about your company, your history, your aspirations, the personalities on your team, and more. Give your designer the tools they need to visually tell your story.
2. They need you to be open-minded.
While providing a lot of detailed specifics to your designer going into a project is a good idea, it’s also important not to box them in. Give your designers a little room to run and flex their creative muscles. After all, you’re paying them to do just that.
3. They want your feedback… with conditions.
Believe it or not, designers really want to make sure you’re happy with the final product. It’s good for their reputation and it makes it more likely that you’ll work with them again. The best way for them to make sure you’re satisfied is if you’re providing feedback for them. That said, not all feedback is good feedback. Make sure your critiques are specific. Vague comments like “I’m just not feeling it” are a surefire way to drive your designer nuts and end up with a lackluster final product.
4. Feedback is a two way street.
You know that old adage, “the customer is always right”? Yeah, that’s nonsense, especially in the world of design. While you should absolutely be engaged and offering up your opinions, you should also be prepared for and receptive to push back to your requests for changes. Designers often have a better lay of the visual landscape, with insight into trends and usability that you might not. If they’re saying no to something, and giving you a reason for it, it’s a good idea to listen closely.
5. Their rate is reflective of training, practice, and talent.
Every now and then, you’ll see people scoff at the cost of design projects, especially when designers are able to provide concepts in a short time frame. If it takes so little time, they ask, why on earth does it cost so much? Well, I dunno, why do you pay through the nose for an hour of a lawyer’s time? Probably because that hour wouldn’t have been possible without many more being invested in the years before to qualify them. The truth is that these designers have spent an enormous amount of time and resources honing their craft. You’re not just paying for their time; you’re paying for their expertise, and that expertise was not cheaply or quickly acquired. And really, in today’s competitive design workforce, you’re probably getting one helluva deal.
6. Their time is more valuable than you realize.
Yes, you’re paying for their expertise first and foremost. But that doesn’t mean their time isn’t valuable, too. That’s something to keep in mind as you send a project back time and time again for revisions. Though it might not seem like much to you in the grand scheme of things, it’s quite possible that the time you force them to spend on the back and forth, especially when it’s inefficiently handled, could have been spent on three additional projects. Be considerate of this. If the project is becoming more involved or time-consuming than anticipated, be willing to up your payout. You’ll be much happier with the outcome that way, and the designer will be more likely to work with you again.
7. Design doesn’t exist in a vacuum
You want a website designed? An email template? A flyer? Awesome. Do you have the copy ready for those projects? No? Then put the design request on ice. For starters, asking for such design work when you don’t know what kind of copy you want involved makes the exercise futile. Design around a 50 word blurb is going to be different than design that incorporates 500 words. You’re handicapping yourself right out of the gates if you ask a designer to design without the copy to go along with the project. But more than that, you’re misunderstanding the purpose of design. Design isn’t an afterthought, add on, embellishment, or wrapper. It is part of the overall message. If you’re not entirely sure what that message is supposed to be, designers won’t have direction, and you won’t be pleased in the end.
You love good design, and designers love producing it. Keep these seven things in mind, and that love will color the design project experience. Everybody wins!
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