Designers and their clients can occasionally have tumultuous relationships due to misunderstandings and differing technical proficiencies. There’s no reason a client would have an in-depth understanding of RGB or CMYK, for instance, but this information is essential to a designer.
We do, however, think there are a few handy hints for clients to take note of that will help move the project forward and keep its momentum. Here are our top tips for a client that might not seem like much, but could make all the difference to your project.
Prepare your brief
Before you even approach a designer, have your brief prepared. They will define many aspects of visual design and mean that when creatives work on your project, they aren’t shooting in the dark. Clients often – understandably – make the mistake of assuming that offering a designer a blank canvas to work off is is an advantage, but it’s quite the opposite. In order to achieve your objectives, we need a brief to respond to. Without it, we’re working on guesses that will almost certainly fail to achieve the results the client had hoped for. It wastes time, effort and money. That’s why your brief is essential. Any designer who says they don’t need to see it should be dismissed immediately!
A keen ear and a clear voice
Communication is vital to any project, but in design, it can mean the difference between meeting and sailing past a deadline. Be sure that you’ve been clear about what it is you want. Don’t wait for the first draft to be finished to tell your designer what you’re looking for. If you want something simplistic or non-conceptual, just say so! If you’re looking for something unique, bear in mind that it will be met with scepticism (new designs always are), and you should be prepared to deal with it.
By ‘deal with it’ we mean understand how the feedback process will work. Communication doesn’t just refer to talking and listening to the designer, but also communication within your own firm. Before you even get in contact with the designer, it would be wise to have an established hierarchy in terms of getting approval. How many levels you have is up to your business, of course, but understanding how the process will work and making it as efficient as possible will benefit everyone.
At some point, you’re going to need to explain the design to someone else in your business – possibly even your boss. At this point, you can expect a lot of questions about the decisions the designers have made and having confidence in your explanations will make all the difference. Knowing the brief, objectives and rationale behind the design will give you the knowledge and confidence to allow you to stand by what you’re proposing.
But don’t confuse ‘resolve’ with ‘stubbornness’. Standing by your design with justifications for all yours and the designer’s choices is important, but vehemently refusing to change stance will result in a similar stubbornness from other parties, which will lead to a stalemate and delay. On the other end of the scale, not understanding particular elements will open the design up for debate, which in turn will slow down development.
Designers aren’t just a helpful pair of hands to do the work, we also have years of experience and design theory under our belt, complemented by an understand of user experience. A good designer will also understand the importance and value of a client’s input. The best results can only come from these two sides combining their expertise. Creating trust and allowing each other to deliver what we do best won’t just improve productivity, but also enthusiasm and enjoyment in the project.
Working together will also help to alleviate disagreements that come up due to subjective opinions. Maintaining objectivity isn’t easy, but personal tastes can hinder development. When both of you are working towards the same goal, it’s easier to differentiate between personal preference and progressive design.
So, with some preparation, you and your designer can get on the same page much quicker and keep the momentum on your project going. One last tiny favour to designers (or just me) is to understand high resolution before you send pictures over to us. Ideally, it would be no smaller than 2000 pixels wide at 300 DPI (dots per inch), but we’ll cover that in more detail another time.
We hope this helps – perhaps there are clever tips for designers to better understand clients too? Why not let us know on Twitter?