For those who haven’t worked with a graphic designer before, the process might be a little daunting.
“Will she get you?”
“Will she be able to create the design you’re looking for?”
“What do you do if you hate what she comes up with?”
A million questions about how you’ll navigate the process and relationship might be running through your mind.
And, if you’ve worked with a graphic designer in the past and had a bad experience, you might have many more questions and a lot more hesitation.
No good relationships just miraculously appears that way. It takes effort and intention and the same goes for any business relationship or collaboration. Both parties need to put in the effort, define their roles, and communicate.
Here are 8 steps to help you navigate any concerns you have about working with a graphic designer for the first (or fifth) time, so you have a successful client-designer relationship:
1. Establish the Goal
Establish the goals of your project and design before you begin the project. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and clear about what needs to happen. Your designer needs you to explain the complete creative brief, goals, target audience, vision, and more in order to create the right design that meets your expectations.
2. Define Each Other’s Roles
Remember, as the client, your role is to provide all of the necessary information for the design, the feedback, and the design problems you’re having.
You’re hiring a designer to provide design solutions, so don’t try to take on that role by also offering up design solutions. Let the designer know what problems or struggles you’re currently having with your design.
If you look at the design and say “make this text bigger,” that’s a solution, not a problem. The designer might do just that and it still may not be the right solution, because your problem might ultimately be that the wording doesn’t grab your attention or is difficult to read.
Tell her exactly what the problem is and let her use her design skills to work out solutions that address the design as a whole.
3. Understand and Agree to a Contract
Contracts are super important in any business-client relationship. Due to the nature of the work, many clients get frustrated with designers and just stop their project after a certain number of attempts. They then think that since they didn’t get a final product that they liked, they don’t have to pay a final balance ( or pay altogether).
Remember to be very specific in your contract and to understand the terms. You need to clearly outline the deliverables, the number of revisions included in the agreed upon price, and a kill fee, if necessary should you or the designer wishes to discontinue working together.
4. Lay Out How You’ll Communicate and On What Channels
Determine how you’ll communicate ( over the phone, via email, through video conferencing, etc.) and what channels you will use. If your designer is having to piece together instructions and communication from email, text, and Facebook messenger, there’s a good chance something is going to get missed in the mix and you’re going to be unhappy, because she didn’t see or implement your feedback.
It’s also important that you effectively and honestly communicate what you like and don’t like. Don’t just say “this doesn’t feel right,” because that provides no clear guidance for the designer to work with. Are the colors slightly off? Do you not like the layout, the font, or the image used?
Be really clear and really honest. This helps guide your designer, so she creates a final design you love.
5. Provide Timely Feedback
Nothing is worse than having a design project hanging in limbo for months. When you receive your designs and revision, make it a point to provide feedback within 24-48 business hours to keep the project going.
6. Be Understanding of Setbacks
If it’s taking a bit longer to nail the design, be understanding of setbacks. Sometimes, it takes work to dig out the vision for a design, so if additional necessary revisions through off the timeline, make sure to remember that more work than originally planned for is going into the project. And don’t forget, your end result will be better because of it.
7. Cultivate Trust
It can be really hard to trust someone to design something really important for your business. But, trust is essential for a good working relationship. Even if you’re a bit hesitant, let your designer know that you hired her because you believe in her skill.
Trust that she’ll deliver exactly what you’re looking for even if it takes a few rounds of revisions. Revisions are, after all, where the real magic happens.
8. If you have a good experience, refer away
Referring people from your network is a great way to build a designer-client relationship, especially if you plan on working together long-term on other projects. Your designer will be grateful plus know that you really do approve of the quality and level of work she does for you. Plus, if she runs across anyone who needs your services, she’ll have you top of mind, too.