Six steps to hassle free great designs

We all have our own ways of working, but you as the client may have to make some changes to your working practices if you want to get great designs, hassle free, from your designer. Below are six steps to help you achieve this.

1. Be Upfront

At the very start of the project, be clear about what you want the designer to achieve for you. How he approaches the project will depend of this information, so let him know exactly what you expect to see at the end. That’s not to say things won’t change along the way, but at least you will both start with a clear understanding of what is required. It’s a good starting point to create a brief for the designer, this can allow for further discussion, leading to a written proposal by the designer for you both to agree to. Setting out the goals early on in a project is crucial to a successful outcome.

2. Be Realistic

Right from the start, there needs to be a clear time frame of when each part of the project needs to be done to reach a completion date. If there’s no set date, at least work out a loose time frame as a guide so that things don’t drag on too long. Also, when you are setting dates, give as much time as possible, don’t say two weeks because you think that’s how long it should take, if you don’t actually need the design for two months - it benefits nobody having your designer rush a project to meet an unnecessary deadline, when a much better result could have been achieved if the actual available time had been given.

3. Be Informative

You may have agreed on a proposal and left your designer to get on with the project, but have you really given him everything he needs. There may be things you know that will influence how you see the end result, but does your designer know too. Your designer will approach the project by what you have told him, and depending on the type of work it is he may have to do some research himself. There is no point in your designer wasting his time and your money in researching something that your company has already done, such as identifying competitors, market share and target market. He may not be aware of all the research your company has already done, so let him know, he can then tell you if it’s something that will be of use to him on the project.

4. Be Approachable

Once your designer knows what is required, how long he’s got to do it and has all the information he needs, it’s important that you make it clear that you would like to be involved in the design process as much as possible and that he should not hesitate in asking for feedback at any stage of the project. This ensures the designer will not worry about taking time from your busy day to deal with aspects he may have felt you would consider his job and should not be bothering you with.

This approach should stop one of the biggest problems that can occur between you, the client, and your designer, which is him going away after briefing and turning up in a few weeks time with a lovely finished design for you - one which you hate. This can of course cause all sorts of problems, your designer’s feelings will probably be hurt, you will feel let down, more time may now be needed to create a new design and so the deadline is missed. All this can hopefully be avoided if you ask your designer to keep you updated with decisions they make with the design, after all you are the client.

5. Be Constructive

We all have our own personal reactions to a design, but keep in mind, you hired your designer for a reason, which I hope was because you were impressed with his portfolio and heard good things said of him. Let him be the designer, by all means give your opinion but keep it constructive.

His design will of course need your approval, but try not to let your personal taste cloud your judgement, he is designing for the target market you asked him to, so how would they view the design. Sure, it needs to work for you too, so that you can get get behind the design.

Remember though, that many of the decisions made by your designer will be as a result of the proposal that was agreed upon by you both. For example, if he has chosen a red background, don’t just say you think it would look better in blue, that doesn’t help him understand why you think red doesn’t work and blue would. Instead, ask him why he choose red, there could be several reasons why, such as it appeals more to your target market or that it was used to differentiate between your business and a competitor.

At this point you may see the benefits of using red rather than a personal preference you have for blue. But if you have a reason for not wanting red say so, maybe it’s been used several times in the past and never had good results. It’s much better to let the designer then suggest an alternative colour based on his research and design scheme. Of course you could suggest blue, but have a reason for doing so.

The most important thing is to talk, it could end up that yellow is considered the most appropriate to use but without a discussion you would never get to that conclusion. You should feel part of the process, so never worry about asking why a certain element was chosen, your designer will be pleased you asked and welcome your involvement.

6. Be United

And finally, probably the most important point of all, try not to feel like two separate forces in the design of the project - with the client on one side and the designer on the other. You and your designer need to work together and have trust in each other to achieve the best end result possible - which after all, is what you both want.

About the author

Paul Galbraith is a freelance designer, specialising in logos, branding and web design for startups, small businesses, agencies and entrepreneurs worldwide.