How to Talk with Designers

Working with clients can be a difficult task. There are conflicting ideas as to what we can accomplish and what is expected. Most of the issues or conflicts can be resolved with a clear line of communication and understanding. The scope of a designer can only go so far when there is time constraint and constant changes. Then there is ethics that come into play when asked to create something that looks exactly like another design. Or the ever-popular question, “Can you make it pop?” Designers can’t read your mind which is why you need to be as specific as possible.

How to talk with designers:

Let’s start with the question that could get designers (and you) in legal trouble.

“Can you design something that looks exactly like this other design?”

When asking to copy someone else’s design, there are copyright issues and the possibility of legal consequences. Stealing shouldn’t be done especially with something that will be seen by many people. It also comes down to the matter of ethics. A designer should not be expected to copy someone’s work. Can they be inspired by the work? Yeah, that’s perfectly fine but taking the same aspects as the work isn’t.

If you like a design or graphic, tell your designer what it is you specifically like about it. Then your designer will take their own spin on it or even make it better than the original! If you like a specific color scheme, basic layout, or the clean crispness tell your designer about it.

Time! Or lack thereof…

“Can you have this done by today? I can give you until tomorrow.”

Graphic design is like any other process, it takes time. It’s more than clicking a mouse and pressing a few keys. It also depends on the design that you want. Some designs are done in a day while others can take much longer. But keep in mind that you’re probably not the only client the graphic designer is working with. Let your designer know that you are working on a time constraint as well and ask for an estimate on how long a certain design will take. Very minor changes can be done in a day, but don’t expect a complete overhaul of a design.

Saying you can find someone else at a lower rate?

All designers are different. They might have that lower rate for a reason… A designer has set a certain price for various reasons including style, skill, and experience. There is no way to determine a fair rate. But a rule of thumb is, you get what you pay for. So, if you receive a design that’s lacking in quality, originality, or you don’t receive it at all? You’ll know why. If you’re looking to negotiate price, it shouldn’t be the first tactic you use. It disappoints, degrades the designers work, and it’s disrespectful. They might not even want to work with you in the future.

Finally, don’t ask if they can make it “pop.”

Designers cannot read minds, if they could it would be so much easier to design things. Once you receive the first few concepts, (usually 3) and there’s something you liked and didn’t like, let the designer know. Give constructive feedback on the design and be as specific as possible. Vague descriptors won’t help and you won’t receive what you pictured. Tell us about the theme you’re going for, what you want the design to say. This feedback will provide information that will get closer to what you want and might even speed up the process.

So what’s the key?

Communication. Establish expectations upfront, be realistic in time frame and design. The creative process takes time and can’t be made in a day’s time. At least not for a quality design. Prices are set for a reason and a $20 dollar design might seem like a great idea, but there’s probably 500 other people who have bought the same one. If you don’t know what you want, your designer isn’t going to either. Again, clear communication is key, and that’s how you talk with designers. And these tips are not just for talking with graphic designers, they work for any part of business and life too.

And that’s how to talk with designers.


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