When you are used to running your own business you make all the decisions. But if you want your designer to do their best work, they have to own the project. That is, they must have some personal stake in it, a sense of pride and responsibility. To do this they must be your partner in the project.
Your opinion should matter to an extent but so should your designer’s opinion. And their opinion should have more weight than anyone else’s. Every time you tell your designer to make a design change without giving a reason or asking for an opinion. Every time you say “Do this” or “I want it this way” you are hurting that relationship. When you don’t treat your designer at least as an equal, and make design demands, the faster your designer will shut down and just do what you say, even if it is the wrong thing to do.
An open dialogue and a friendly relationship is the key to getting the best design work.
When your designer is kept up to date with your marketing strategy and feels like a part of the team, he/she is going to be more inclined to not only produce good work, but also feel more inclined to offer up suggestions on improving your brand and marketing. Also, more inclined to charge less or work a little bit harder or a little extra to polish some projects.
Reasons Your Designer Hates You
Really too many to list but here is a few off the top of my head.
Shooting Down Suggestions Without Giving A Reason Why
If you don’t like something, always explain why. At least let your designer know what you are thinking. If you don’t like a design because it looks like something your competition is doing, say so. Don’t make your designer get frustrated for no reason.
Knee Jerk Reactions and The Last Minute
This happens on almost every website I’ve ever built: The client likes the mockups. Now would be the time to get feedback but they go ahead and approve the design. I build the site. Then the client shows it to his or her friends, and they give feedback. Now the client comes back with all these changes that need to be made after the fact. If you are happy with the design you shouldn’t let a handful of people change your mind about it, especially if they have no formal design training and are not your customers. If your mom tells you the site should be green not blue, don’t rush off to your designer and tell them to make the change, and if you do let your designer know why you are making the change.
No offense, but your friends probably know even less about design than you do. So, if you want to get feedback on a design, ask your customers in a survey, or conduct a focus group, but don’t wait tell the project is over to do so, do it while the design is still a concept.
You Think You Are A Designer
If you are one of the millions of people who feel they should be a designer, instead of micro-managing your design project, spend the time to find a designer who creates work that you really like. That is your creative time. Hire that person to do the work and leave them alone. No one likes an armchair quarterback.
Make the Logo Bigger
Making your logo absolutely as big as possible will not make people view it more or buy your product. All it will do is annoy your designer.
You Make Design Decisions Without Discussing Them First
Keep your designer in the loop. Maybe you made the right decision but possibly your designer could have thought of something better, or even cheaper. This holds true for printers as well. If you are thinking about getting some print material made, the best person to talk to is the print company.
Personal Preferences Effect Design
Is your business branded in blue because that is your favorite color? If you make design decisions based off of your own personal preferences, than you are doing your brand a real disservice.
Signs Your Designer Has Thrown in the Towel
If your designer is doing what you say without questioning it, you’ve probably lost him or her already, and the quality of the work is going to suffer greatly.
When you propose something to your designer does he/she stare at you blankly for a moment, maybe judging if you are serious or not, or trying to think of something positive to say. That my friend, is a good indication that your idea is a bad one.
Think of a really dumb design idea and tell your design you want to do it. If they don’t try to talk you out of it, they are just there to collect a paycheck.
Ways to Improve Your Design Relationship
Again I could come up with a ton of these but here are a just a couple to get you started.
- Don’t say “I don’t like…” Say “This reminds me of … therefore…” or “Other sites have this… why don’t we do…” Always make things open ended. Always give an alternative. Always let the design have something to respond to.
- Send an email to your designer explaining the basic idea of the project you want completed a week before your meeting. This way you have spent time to think about it and the designer has a week to think about how to go about designing it.
- Let the designer pitch ideas to you not the other way around. Trust me the results will be a lot better. Example: Don’t say “We need a Facebook Page. Build it.” Say “What do you think is the best way to improve our social presence?” You just might get something a whole lot better than you expected.
Little bit of a rank but hopefully you learned something. If you want to hear more about getting better work out of your designer let me know. I probably have another couple posts in me on this topic if there is interest.