Working with a designer

Working with a designer can be very smooth and efficient, with just a modicum of cooperation.


Here are some important things to consider in choosing to work with a graphic designer:


Look at their portfolio to see if you like their style, direction, and flexibility.

Size them up. Do you know anyone who has dealt with this individual or firm?  If so, find out what their experience have been like.  If not, try to determine if your intended designer has the personality, professionalism, commitment and/or sense of ownership that will work for this project.

Check your budget and timeline.  The best graphic designers are typically (and understandably) very busy people.  They will want to do their utmost to meet your deadlines, and so they will need to assess how your project can fit into an existing work queue.  For this reason, you’ll need to be realistic in discussing a feasible target date for completion.  Keeping projects moving and clients satisfied requires a great deal of project management skill on the part of the designer, so working with them in this regard will help them manage your project’s time and resource allocation most effectively.  This translates to making sure your project is done as well and as quickly as possible.  Also, most designers will accommodate an urgent project in return for a premium payment.  If you allow for a reasonable time for completion of this project, you may not need to pay the premium.

Keep an open mind.  Remember this trained professional is going to do their best for your business or organization.  After all, your success is their success.  You’ve hired them, and they will want to make you happy by bringing their talent, experience, and skills to bear fully on your project.  Just as you would expect them to listen, give them an opportunity to explain their approach or rationale.

Attitude check.  If you know you have a tendency to micromanage, you may find it challenging (if not impossible!) to work with a professional designer.  Most people are at their best when they have the room they need to get things done.

Communicate.  This is especially important when you’re dealing with marketing concepts and abstractions!  Although a seasoned designer will actively seek out the information they need  through a design brief, it’s important for you to try meeting them halfway.  Tell them as clearly and honestly as you can what your requirements are, and provide constructive input when it’s requested.  Often, it helps immensely to present examples of designs you’d like and/or would like to avoid.

Assign a contact person.  It’s incredibly frustrating for a designer (or perhaps for anyone!) to take conflicting directives from two or more people (think “too many chiefs…”), who may not be in sync with each other, or worse yet, be at odds.  Have your meetings and discussions with all parties concerned within your organization and come to a consensus.  Your contact person should uniquely communicate the resulting decisions and input.

Provide what is needed.  Most designers will require all the necessary details and information from you ahead of starting a project.  Any textual components to be incorporated should be proofread and finalized.  Delays in providing these materials will nearly always translate to delays in the project’s completion.

Have you had some interesting or useful interactions with graphic designers?  I invite you to share them here.  Thank you for reading!