If you're working with a graphic designer for the first time, keep in mind that good, effective communication (both written and verbal) is key to getting this vital collaboration off to a good start.
1. Meet your designer for a coffee
Well, I guess it's a bit like dating. If getting some great work done starts off with good communication, then make sure you and your chosen designer get along at least. You need to feel comfortable talking to your designer in person and over the phone at any time. Take note of their email responsiveness and manner: is he/she someone you can work with over the next few weeks and months? What's the vibe you're getting on whether or not this designer values you as a client and is willing to listen to your requirements and ideas?
2. Give your designer a proper brief
Even if you think you're telling them things that seem obvious to you, spell it all out in your brief! The more detail your designer has from you, the better he/she will be able to fulfill your expectations. If it's a branding project, give them background history, how the brand came to be, how you came up with the name, who your competitors are, other brands you admire and aspire to, keywords for the look and feel of your brand. You should even tell your designer if there are specific colours or shapes you really dislike (if any!). All the information you give your designer sets up a solid launchpad for their creativity, and will help them produce exactly what you have asked for and more!
3. Give your designer a timeframe
Creative people can take all day on one little thing; it's just the way they're wired. You need to give your designer the impression that you're not at all in a hurry (as pressure usually always stifles creativity). But you do have that event coming up on such and such a date and "it would be good" to have it done by then. That's all that's needed; a good designer will respond well to this and meet your timeframe.
4. Always offer positive feedback before the negative
A good designer always puts his or her heart and soul into any project they undertake. Remember, a lot of thought and energy goes into being creative! When you receive initial concepts in response to your brief, always start with the positive before moving on to the parts you don't like. It's not that your designer is fragile; some positive comments just help to keep your designer motivated to finish your project and keeps those creative juices flowing.
5. Take time to consider their concepts
Take the time to deeply consider the options your designer presents you with before offering constructive feedback. Remember point 4? They've put their heart and soul into this! If what you're seeing is a little different from what you were expecting, bear in mind that it might actually be better this way, or maybe it's just that the brief wasn't communicated so well at the start? Whatever the case may be, taking your time to properly weigh it all up will mean fewer rounds of revision for your designer, resulting in less expense for you, less frustration for both of you, and a great end result.
about the author
Esther is a freelance graphic designer and blog writer based in Adelaide, South Australia.