Things your design team wants you to know
We asked our design team exactly what they would say to clients before starting on design projects.
Get inside their heads, and find out how to get the most from your agency design team.
Carla Young, designer, Light Creative.
“It’s great when clients know what they want and know how to describe their vision. You sometimes have a client who doesn’t know exactly what direction they want the project to go in, and we work with them to develop their ideas. But it’s more time and money for them. And the more you know when you approach us, the more you’ve thought about the project, the easier it is to get your ideas down on the page".
Detailed briefs are better: “Some agencies and clients don’t give you much detail. You always get the best results when you’ve got more to work with. When you have more, you can do more. Short briefs are always more likely to go badly. It’s up to the agency to ask the right questions, and the client to give considered answers too".
Designer vs. draftsmen: “That said, if you know exactly what you want…if you can see it and sketch it and you’re determined for your poster, website, or whatever, to look a certain way, think about whether you need a designer at all. You might just need a draftsman, to bring your idea to life. A designer is better value if you need someone to massage the idea, or do the research for you and give you advice”.
But if you’re hiring someone to advise you…
Take our advice: “We know what we’re doing and we’re good at it. Usually we have so many great ideas for our clients but don’t want to derail the conversation, or feel it’s our place to change the whole project. But you’re paying for a designer, so you should take advantage at the start of a project and ask (even if your heart is set on doing it a certain way) our professional opinion. You don’t have to take our advice of course, but it’s good to talk things through, and we might be able to teach you something”.
Be truthful: “I’ve had a few clients who do this…they work with you on a project and it seems to be going well. They say they like the final product and it’s all fine. Then when it’s published, it’s changed. Or it doesn’t get used at all. I always wish they’d be honest, even if it’s a bit awkward to be assertive and say you want something changed….it’s better for everyone in the end and it’s part of our job! Most designers wouldn’t expect to get it completely right first time around. That feedback is always a great help for both of us to clarify what the final outcome should be”.
Nick Parker, founder and CEO, Light Creative.
Let go: “Contrary to Carla (and probably because I’m old as dirt), I really appreciate when a client lets go of control and preconceived ideas. It’s a lot easier to get something great out of a designer if you go to them with a purpose and then hand over the reigns. You’ll get a much better designer if you ask them to create, rather than tell them what to do”.
Keep an open mind: “Go into the process with an open mind. Just because the designer hasn’t created exactly what you thought you wanted, doesn’t mean they haven’t created something that’s even more effective. It’s a designers job to communicate visually and solve problems. Sometimes their solution won’t match what you had imagined. But it’s good to remember that sometimes the best designs are invisible. Design can be most effective when it goes unnoticed”.
Give positive feedback: “If the designer you're working with does something you love, let them know about it. Nothing fuels a designer’s desire to achieve greatness for you than validation (or a good belly rub). But don’t get soft, make sure they also know if they're going down a path that's not going to fulfil the intended purpose. Communication is key. Understand how your designer needs to be communicated with and you'll make both your jobs a hell of a lot easier".
Let us process: “Time to process the task at hand, conduct research, and become inspired, is all necessary and worth every penny of a designer’s time. Try not to expect a designer to make magic happen in a rushed couple of hours. Quite often clients just assume the idea is already in our head, as though they simply need to hit it hard enough with a baseball bat and watch it explode with toys and candy! But in reality, all you’ll get is the pinata filled with lame-arse carrot sticks and dried fruit. It does the job but it’s pretty disappointing. Serves you right for hiring Pete Evans as your designer and pinata stuffer”.