Working with a designer isn’t as hard as you might think. Really.

I’ve been in the design game for a while now and have learned a few things about what makes a successful project. To me, the best way to make the process painless is through collaboration between the designer and the clients. I’m not saying both have to see eye to eye, but there ought to be a basic understanding between both parties. In my career, I’ve been on all sides of the design process from the lowly production artist, to a vendor, and client. With my current role as Creative Director for Absolute Marketing Group in Moorhead, MN, its my place to draw from these experiences and strike common ground with my designers and clients to find appropriate solutions to marketing problems. ¬†What follows are a few tips and tricks to consider throughout the entire design process. Steamroll the wrinkles, solidify your relationship and award-winning, (and more importantly) effective design is in your future.

Preproduction

I Understand You. You Understand Me.

Schedule a conversation between you, the client and me, the creative staff. Let’s keep it casual – I don’t wear ties. More importantly, let’s keep it short. A drawn out, marathon meeting exploring every angle of your brand isn’t my role. My job is to know what you want your marketing to look like. We can cover that in a half hour.

In 30 minutes, here’s what I want to know:

  • What are you trying to achieve with this project? Sales, yes, but what else?
  • What are the parameters of the project? When is it due? What’s your budget?
  • What is needed to get the project done – photos, content, etc.? Who is bringing what?
  • What’s your company all about? Do you know what we do?
  • How’s your day? Do you have kids? (Seriously, a little small talk goes a long way. I said I like it casual.)
  • When should we be expecting…? Set your responsibilities, expectations and deadlines up front.

Production

I Like That. What Do You Think of This?

You can’t form Captain Planet without a lot of elements coming together. But once all the photos, content, deadlines, budgets and expectations are in place, it’s easy to get the design rolling. Throughout the process, both the designer and the client should check in with one-another to make sure the look is right and the project is on track.

How do you collaborate? Constructive feedback.

Please don’t be vague with your comments. We don’t let anything out of our shop that we think stinks, so if it doesn’t sit well with you, tell me why.

“It’s not popping, can you jazz it up more?” ¬†doesn’t tell a designer much.
“The colors are too muted. Can you make them brighter or up the contrast between colors?” tells a designer exactly what you didn’t care for.

We can fix specifics.

Post-Production

Good or Bad, Let’s Get Better.

Share the successes and the failures after the finished product gets distributed. By now, a healthy working relationship between the designer and the client should be in place. We are in this business to create solutions. Be comfortable talking about the work after it has left the shop.

Here are a few things you, the client, should let us know to keep this positive partnership in place.

  • Did we hit our goals set forth in the initial meeting? This gives the designer insights as to what should be tweaked or kept the same on the next project.
  • Did we provide good service throughout the design process? Positive or negative, we want to know how to improve.
  • Did you like it? A client’s opinion matters. Designers create for the right audience, but they also create for the client. The more we know about a client’s personal tastes as they relate to the business, the easier it is to design the next piece.

A successful working relationship with a client and the design firm is a collaborative effort. It takes an open line of communication, clear goals and a basic understanding of each others’ work flow, expectations and tasks. Should any of the processes be missed or avoided, it can result in a poor final product, missed target goals, overextended timelines and blown budgets. Don’t be afraid of your designer and I’ll be sure to tell my guys not to be apprehensive about you. We, as in you and I, can make some really great things happen.

Find out how easy it is to get on the same page. Call me for casual coffee. No obligation, just conversation.