How To Connect With Your Designers Better
Creative How To Connect With Your Designers Better
As a general rule, the 21st century is a great time to be a designer. Regardless of whether you’re a web designer, a graphic designer or even a structural engineer, there will always be a multitude of companies out there that need your help to establish their vision as a business.
Complications inevitably arise however in mistranslation between designers and their clients; we’re pretty sure that if you’re the director of your own business, you’ll be familiar with what we’re talking about. Communications often break down because of a disparity between the industry specific terminology your designer is using, and your relatively limited understanding of their creative process. Healthy working relationships can also easily be soured by failure to establish clear goals at the beginning of the project, leading to expensive and time consuming revisions later on.
This is why we’ve set up a handy guide with some easy steps to follow which will ensure a solid and cooperative relationship between you and your designers, whether they’re crafting your website or your water features.
Preparing for the finish line at the starting blocks
In the majority of cases, specificity is often the key to success at the start of a project. Giving your designer clear and concise instructions that they can understand will help you to set up boundaries early on; requesting drafts of three web-pages within a 14 day deadline is a great example of how to confer with a designer in terms they understand. If you run an SME the chances are you’ll be dealing with freelance designers, who choose their own hours, so establishing clear deadlines early will help them to plan their working week in advance.
Having conversations like this early on will also make you feel more comfortable in issuing directives at a later stage in the design process; there’s nothing worse than ending up with a half-satisfactory product because you felt too awkward to suggest a change three revisions ago.
Speaking of revisions, it’s highly unlikely that the first draft you see will miraculously be everything you were hoping for, because let’s face it, the designer can’t see inside your head. This means that a continual process of revision will be necessary. Make sure however that you establish the number of revisions the designer will be paid to make at the outset, preventing projects from edging over deadlines and budgets.
As a general rule with design (and in fact, all things business) make sure everything is established in writing, this way you have a point of reference if anything goes wrong later on.
Understanding the team
One of the biggest hurdles to get over when consulting with designers is that they simply can’t psychically visualise your ideal finished product, and until you’ve seen an early draft, this barrier will go both ways. To this end, be prepared for anything when that draft finally arrives in your inbox. When offering your feedback, remember that this person has spent time and effort creating this product, so make sure to mention what you do like, as well as what you don’t.
Of course the more designers have to work with initially, the closer their drafts will be to what you have envisioned. Take interior design for example, drawing up a rough floor plan with your own ideas first will give a designer an excellent jumping off point. Utilising images or concepts from other companies will also be really helpful, as they will indicate to the designer what you do and don’t like the idea of. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with borrowing a little inspiration here and there.
Cut them some slack
When you spend most of your time consulting with designers through a screen it can be easy to forget that they’re people too! By bearing this in mind when liaising with them you will benefit from healthier and therefore more productive working relationships in future. This means no sending revisions back late in the evening, or remembering to account for time differences if you’re working with an international team.
It also means being understanding when delays inevitably crop up. Designers are busy people, working for multiple clients at once, so in some cases slight delays might be expected. If you do feel, however, that your project is consistently being left on the back burner, taking a diplomatic approach will always produce better results. Nine times out of ten there will be a reasonable explanation, and in most cases it will simply be that coming up with a design they’re happy to show to you will be taking a little longer than expected.
Winning the race together
Outsourcing design work can often feel like a three-legged race, both parties want to reach the finish line first, but this can often lead to more trips and stumbles along the way. Working with your designer will require patience and time to understand one another’s rhythms, but with clarity and a little empathy, you’ll be achieving first place much sooner than you think.