How to work with a graphic designer (and not only) to get great projects?
What could go wrong?
You look at it and you don’t know what to think about it, after all, your suggestions and vision in your head were probably eloquent enough to get the project you wanted. Why are your expectations different from the final vision of the graphic de-signer? Every project is different, every entrepreneur expects something different and all graphic designers are different. That’s why there are misunderstandings between our expectations and the final result.
First of all, at the very beginning it is worth to focus on proper communication. Very often, I have received short information from clients about the projects they wanted to get. I perfectly understand that entrepreneurs may not have the time, desire or willingness to contribute to the details of the project, or they do not exactly know what they would like to achieve, but then they cannot expect the vision of the designer to coincide with their vision. Because the graphic designer is not a mentalist and cannot read what the other side has in his or her head. In such situations I usually ask clients if they agree to make the project look the way as I see fit, based on my knowledge and experience. Honestly, I like such challenges, because with a free hand you can achieve more. However, a minimum of in-formation is needed to know at least what is the purpose of the project, or even what its specifications and assumptions should be. Therefore, remember:
- Too little information can hurt.
- A graphic designer may not know a lot of things you may have in mind.
- Do not use mental shortcuts.
- If you don’t say something specifically, the other side may not guess.
- If you do not say exactly what you expect, you can not expect to receive exactly what you had in mind.
I’d also like to point out that:
Graphic designers aren't saints at all!
I hired a lot of graphic designers myself, so I know how it is from the other side as well. I have the advantage that as a graphic designer I know what every other graphic designer would like to receive, or what I can expect, giving him little details of the project, and yet I have often been disappointed with his or her approach. Apart from the quality of delivered pro-jects, because it is often a matter of experience, unfortunately very often the service and communication is very bad. I had a situation where a pretty good graphic designer (at least that’s what the portfolio suggested) provided me with a very weak project, asking me nothing at all, and finally complaining about project delivered. I could not justify the final result and his approach in any way.
Many people just don’t know that creative work is not the same as doing the same service every time. Each project is different. The final effect at the very beginning is not even known to the graphic designer. Sometimes, depending on the project, it is not even possible to make it 1: 1 according to the customer’s vision. Additionally, the final effect is also influenced by the quality of the materials provided – photographs, texts, graphics. Many graphic designers (including myself) try to be flexible and adapt to the client’s budget. Creative work is char-acterized by the fact that you can devote a few minutes, hours, days, months or years to it. In fact, one project can be a never-ending adventure. I would like to mention that the larger the budget the customer has, the more time you can spend on creative work and the greater the chance that the final result will be satisfactory. Smaller the budget is, lower the client’s ex-pectations should be.
In creative work it is impossible to do great projects every time and worse just happen. The most important thing is…
A project doesn't have to be a work of art. It should be good enough and appropriate to the budget.
Yes. Certainly not all the projects I have prepared were of the highest level, because it is impossible to do everything perfect-ly, but I tried to make them good enough each time (I like this statement). You should also consider that what the graphic designer shows in his portfolio is his best work, a piece of his work, and that doesn’t mean that you get the same quality, but there are a lot of factors affecting it:
- Budget – designing is the same business as yours, so the result also depends on finances.
- Good and bad days – we are just people and we may have worse day when projects might not always be perfect.
- Subjectivity – what the graphic designer will consider his best work, you do not have to like at all.
- Size of the project – probably by ordering a regular business card, you will not receive a unique design. You can’t expect the same “wow” effect as in case, for example, creating full visual identification.
- Communication, respect, trust – I have already mentioned the first one in this article, I refer to the next two below.
A graphic designer is a person, and designing is a real, not an easy work! The fact that we do not get our hands dirty and our work is also a passion does not mean that our world is full of colors. Each of us has his or her own problems, we have mo-ments when we don’t like our work and we also feel its painful effects – deteriorating eyesight, back problems, wrist pain, stress, all-nighters and many more. Therefore, like everyone, we expect that we will be treated with respect. If there is no such respect, then despite the most sincere efforts, the de-signer who took on the assignment may even unwittingly per-form a worse project than he could have done. The psycholog-ical aspect in creative work is a key issue. At the start of my career, I was able to give much more than the client expected and I regretted it more than once. I remember a situation when a client wanted to change the project, and I didn’t charge any-thing for the changes, in addition I was working on them on Saturday – change after change. When I wrote to him on Sun-day that I will implement further changes on Monday and they will be additionally charged, I got a message from the client that if I did not do that immediately, he wouldn’t pay me. You can imagine how I felt then. Obviously, I ended up cooperation with the client immediately after this order. Don’t be a bad cus-tomer and respect others, and then the graphic designers will pay back and deliver the best possible projects (or at least most of them, because among us there are also some “weirdos”?).
Good cooperation, relationship, team, friendship – there must always be at least a minimum of trust. Otherwise, both sides will just get tired. In cooperation with the graphic designer, take into account that his experience will probably be greater in this aspect than yours, so usually his vision will be better than vi-sion of someone without experience in this matter. More than once in the past I have had situations in which after the client’s corrections the project started to look bad. I even informed him that I wouldn’t put my name on such a project, and yet the client insisted on his vision. At such moments I say – it happens – and I treat an order as an order.
I do not in any way claim that the customer’s comments might not help the project. After so many years of work, I say „Let’s check” more often than I used to. There are situations where I suggest in advance that this is not a good idea, but not once have I had situations where changes have actually worked out.
Announcement to graphic designers - do not be afraid to agree with the customer.
I know that we want to be the best at what we do and our ego does not always allow us to admit that someone else is right, but we are not alpha and omega. A fresh look can be benefi-cial to the project. With the right approach, you might earn much respect in the eyes of the customer.
And last but not least, dear entrepreneurs, trust yourself. If you get a project, it’s not necessarily a good idea to ask for the opinion of other people unrelated to the project. The more people, the more opinions. In addition, the way the question is formulated is very important for the answer. Engaging addi-tional people from outside does not make the task easier for the graphic designers, often makes it unnecessarily confusing and difficult to implement. I know from experience that several really good projects have gone done because of that.
Cooperation with a graphic designer, in the same way as with – a programmer, copywriter or other freelancer can be a pleasant service or a hell for both parties. Despite the most sincere willingness of the client and graphic designer, some-thing can always go wrong, but remembering about things mentioned above, you will increase your chances of getting a project that will meet your expectations, and maybe even ex-ceed them. Being on both sides I know that the key issue in a good cooperation is often the human factor, so take care of a good approach and find a graphic designer who will also take care of you.