Hiring a designer to visualize your product, brand or idea can be nerve-wracking — there's a lot of lingo like creative-as-a-noun, moldboards and concepting which my spell-checker still doesn't fully approve of. Plus handing off your brand-baby to someone to design is a big, bold commitment. However it can also be a deeply rewarding experience and in the current market, great design is making or breaking businesses. (I know that sounds dramatic but according to the the Design Management Institute's study, in the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%*)
After working with a range of clients the last 10 years, I was thinking over the experiences and wondering if there was a way to quantify what turns a design for-hire project into a great partnership between designer and client.
Of course, at the core of any great project is great communication. It's hard to recreate magic, but here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful in creating better designer-client communications.
1. Think holistically
I find the best designs usually come out of collaborations. Before we even get into the nitty-gritty of the design, I love hearing about your business, learning about your pain-points and what your goals are. I find the best situations usually come when I understand your needs at a deeper level and use that as a basis for the designs rather than skip over that and immediately get into the designs for the project.
2. Set clear expectations
If there’s must-haves, must-not-haves, and other specific requirements, let me know upfront — even if they sound random or silly. (And if you have a specific example, those are solid gold.) It’ll save a lot of time and make everyone a lot happier in the long run. I'll also include that in the proposal and timelines so we don't hit any unexpected snags along the way.
3. Explain your thought process behind changes
When we don’t understand the purpose of the change, and am just mindlessly moving things around per instructions, good design quickly turns bad. Instead, please explain the problem you’re attempting to fix (ex. “The logo looks crowded”) and we can run from there. Or maybe you can't even articulate it but you feel like something is off — we can take it from there and offer alternatives.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification
If you’ve gotten an email from me nerding about CRO best practices or vectorized graphics or something else you aren’t quite sure about, feel free to ask. I try my best to keep away from Designer-ese but sometimes it slips in there.
Generally speaking, I've found the situations where I'm able to build trust and partnerships with clients to be the most rewarding both design-wise and personally. You understand your business and I understand design, let's go make something beautiful!