Creative Lead, 7+ Years of Web Design and Development Experience
May 19th, 2016
It's nice to daydream that your designer or design team will be able to whip out mockups left and right that bring your desired vision for a website or eBook flawlessly.
Unfortunately, fairy tales like this don’t usually happen.
More than likely, you’ll find something is not quite what you were expecting. Perhaps there are disagreements on the style, confusion about why certain imagery was chosen, or maybe you just really hate the fonts they used.
When issues like these arise, keeping quiet about your concerns isn’t the solution, but complaining to the designer about the problems isn’t either.
The key to a great relationship with your designer is to keep the lines of communication open and honest. You need to understand how you can work together and this starts by talking it out.
All designers, myself included, want to make our team and clients happy and solve the problems at hand while still being creative.
To do this, it’s critical we designers include clients and/or coworkers consistently throughout the project to make sure we are receiving feedback and are executing the expected vision correctly.
Keeping the lines of honest and concise communication open between one another can be a tough hurdle, especially you’ve had issues in the past. To help better align you and your designer, here are some insights into what they are thinking and tips to help minimize their frustrations.
1. Don’t Micro-manage
This is by far one of the biggest no-nos when working with your designer and is a sure-fire way to lower their moral.
Your designers are there to guide you to the proper solution. Telling them exactly what you want to be done without giving room for discussion will only make your designer feel unskilled and detached from the work.
Allow discussions to be had and let your designers guide your ideas so they can be properly executed. Even semi-heated arguments once in awhile are encouraged! It’s how you know your designer is passionate about their work and wants you to receive the results you're looking for.
Designers want to hear your opinions and feedback. If you bottle up your thoughts just to avoid confrontation, you’ll end up with a product that doesn’t represent or achieve what you were looking for.
You want to get what you’re looking for, and your designers want you too as well. Find opportunities to drop by to check the progression of the project. When doing so, make sure to offer feedback and ask questions so your designer knows whether or not they are headed down the right path.
2. Know Your Goal
One of the most important aspects of your project is the goals that you’ve set for it; whether they are to make a subscriber page that can convert two-thousand new subscribers or a pricing page that needs to achieve twenty new sign ups.
Without clearly-defined goals, your designer won’t know what the actual purpose of their work is and won’t be able to create a design to fulfill your goals. This can cause frustration that you may then take out on the designer.
It’s also important to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals throughout the project. Haphazardly changing direction and forcing the designer to conform to the changes will only lead to aggravation.
If a goal does change, sit down with your designer and talk it through with them. Let them know what you would like to change and see what its implications are. Drastically changing directions or visions may affect your deadline dramatically; be open and upfront with your designer and see what is a realistic timeline for your changes.
Who knows, maybe your discussion can open up doors to new and better ideas that can be explored.
3. Be Open to Trying Things Out
Often times, the solution to a design problem isn’t staring at you dead in the face, and you simply aren’t sure of what an acceptable solution is.
While your designer has the expertise to solve these problems, they may still need to test some options out before deciding what the right decision is. As it is, they not only have your results on the line, but also the experience of your audience.
This means more time may need to be spent on certain aspects of the project, but this will ultimately pay off if the solution is better than band-aiding it and returning to it later.
When testing out certain designs, make sure you don’t let your personal opinion get in the way. You may really hate the color orange, but if tests show it’s proven to get you more conversions somewhere, then it may be worthwhile to incorporate it.
Remember, design is about problem solving, your designer not only needs to keep your goals and interests in mind, but also the visual and communicative experience for your users. So the first idea to come out may not necessarily be the best.
4. Be Honest and Specific
“I just don’t like it.”
A phrase all too commonly heard by many designers, and one of the most disliked. It gives no insight into what others are specifically thinking, and it doesn’t lead your designer any closer to a solution.
When giving your designer feedback, be honest. Tell them what you truly feel; what you think doesn’t work (fonts, colors, inconsistent imagery), even if you think it sounds a little silly. It’s better to bring it up rather than to hold it back.
If you find you don’t know how to explain what’s wrong, but know inspiration you’ve found to help get you point across, show them to your designer. This way the two of you have a visual example to help base your decisions off of.
If you find yourself constantly requesting design changes over a long period of time, schedule a mini critique meeting with your designer where you can blast them with any feedback and opinions you have.
This allows your designer to hear everything you have to say before they go too far, rather than periodically seeing several individual emails or messages with changes in each.
After meeting, you and your designer will be significantly more aligned into the next steps for the design so you can expect exactly what you want the next time you return to it.
5. Always Ask Questions
Your designers have a wealth of knowledge surrounding design best practices, visual tricks to create specific user behavior, and which trends are currently making waves in the industry.