Graphic designers are the bees knees! The ones I know are lovely unpretentious creative types, who have brought life and beauty to my ideas and businesses. It is exciting to have an idea in your head for your logo, website or advertisements that a good designer makes into a visible concept (usually better than your original idea!).
They are a hard working species, with a pretty large responsibility… to take your business and make it look good and compelling! Whether it be flyers, posters, websites, logos, ads or other collateral.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that there are often problems between business owners and designers due to lack of communication or unrealistic expectations.
So, lets be clear about what a graphic designer is. I grabbed this from Wikipedia.org:
A graphic designer (also known as a graphic artist and communication designer) is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design…. A core responsibility of the designer’s job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and aesthetic.
In a nutshell a graphic designer’s expertise is in taking your product, understanding your objectives and designing artwork to fulfil the objectives.
If you are working with a design studio, they may also offer copywriting, photography and have relationships for printing, but don’t expect these additional services unless they have been specified up front.
The important things to be clear about when working with a graphic designer are:
a) what you want to achieve with the artwork
b) if you have certain expectations for how it will look
c) how much money you are willing to spend.
Once you have this information, have a conversation with your designer that includes:
Your budget and the price to produce what you want. (And for everything additional you may need like a photographer, copy writer or to purchase images from a library.)
Your brief. Be prepared with a brief that describes your objectives and as much information as possible about what you want. Also, if you want your design to look a certain way, bring examples from the web or magazines. Be specific about the styles, colours, layout and “look and feel” that you like. For assistance with creating a design brief for a new website see the Planning Your Website Course.
Your copy. What you want people to read on the document.
How much it will cost if you want to make changes to the design and copy. Changing your mind about what is written or the design at the last minute can be costly and cause delays.
If you have a large budget you will be able to afford a studio or agency. If you have a small budget you can find students, graduates or freelancers to work with you. Always check out samples of the designers work so that you can see his/her design style.
Be realistic about timeframes, find out how long they will take to do the job and add some time in case you need to make changes. Print jobs can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks depending on what you need so don’t get caught short on deadlines!
Always give detail and examples for changes you want made, here are some unhelpful requests I have heard recently…
“Can you make it more sexy?”
“Can you make it cooler?”
“Can you use a better red?”
“I don’t like it, can you do something different?”
Feedback like this is not helpful as it does not specify what you actually want, and will lead to many extra hours extra work (and frustration!). If you can’t describe what you want, find a similar style/colour on the web or in a magazine and give them an example. If you still can’t find what you want, do a rough drawing so that your vision is communicated.
Always be clear with graphic designers, know what you want and let them know in detail. They don’t read minds yet (but maybe one day!)… Until then, if you find a designer whose style you like and you are able to give them a great brief, you will generally find the experience of branding your business and website a thrilling experience.