Five tips for working with a Graphic Designer

Do something creative.

Make the design pop.

Can you jazz it up a little?

I need some wow factor.

Have you ever used these phrases when working with a designer? If so, it’s time to stop.


1. Think about it upfront.

Designers hear this a lot: “Now that I think about it… I don’t like blue/serif fonts/circles.” It’s much better to consider what you like (and dislike) in advance and tell your designer in a written brief. Imagine you went to the airport and said ‘put me on a flight to somewhere amazing’. The travel agent sends you to Antarctica. You really meant ‘send me somewhere amazing … and warm’.

Think about where you’d like to end up and you’ll get there much easier.

2. Give examples of design you like.

If you love the look of the handwritten font on your estate agent’s flyer or the funky label of your craft beer, show your designer (or in the case of the beer, buy them a beer). Don’t worry, they won’t copy it—just understand what you’re looking for. Design is everywhere; spend time looking at websites, advertising or magazines to find what you like. You don’t even need the actual item – a simple snap from your phone will usually suffice.

3. Don’t ask for ‘pop’ or ‘wow factor.’

That’s just too vague. You must be specific in your feedback. Show the designer an example of what you mean and tell them how you feel the draft falls short. Remember the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’? Use visual examples to help you explain what you’re trying to say.

4. Let them be creative.

You hired a designer for their design skills—so let them have fun and try out something you don’t expect.  When you first see a design, take the time to consider it for a day or two (at the very least a few hours)—often your first response is based on a personal gut feel, and may not be the right one for that particular project. We had one client who initially hated the colour on her website but it grew on her—and it’s still there. She trusted in our expertise to choose the right colour scheme, even though it wasn’t her personal preference.

5. Give them a problem.

Don’t dictate the solution. For example, let’s say your design is too contemporary for your conservative audience. So you say to your designer–change the typeface. If you don’t the explain the real reason for your request, your designer may make the changes you need, but they won’t understand the problem. We designers are a creative lot, we might have an even better solution—if you give us a chance to think about it.

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