When you work with a designer there are a few key things you can do to help ensure the end product is as amazing as possible. As lead developer here at Indelible I’m always working alongside a designer. When it really comes down to it I’m a data kind of guy, so for those of you who might struggle with talking to a creative here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
1. Be honest
Let’s face it, this is a staple of any real communication, right? Folks usually have no trouble with honesty when they like what they see, but telling a designer you don’t like his work seems to be a big struggle. You will save yourself a ton of time (not to mention money!) if you can be forthright about designs you don’t like. A good designer isn’t going to be offended, but will ask you what it is you don’t like about it. Be ready to articulate your reasons as best you can!
2. Embrace risk
Great design can’t happen without risk. If a designer has the freedom to push boundaries you’ll get a better end product. This doesn’t mean you have to accept the craziest of crazy designs! Rather, use the iteration process to refine something that is too loud/bold/crazy down to the perfect end product.
3. Allow creativity to percolate
Our designer can build an incredible mockup in an hour or two. When he’s inspired. I talked with him earlier today and found out he was up at 2am working on branding because that’s when the juices were flowing. Remember that creativity isn’t a faucet that you can turn on and off. Good designers know how to create something that looks good even without that creative spark, but if you give it time for the requirements and direction to brew you will strike gold.
Special note on this one – there is a point of diminishing returns. Giving a designer 2 years to create a mockup for a simple landing page is probably a little too much. Probably. Let context and requirements be your guide :-). Remember, even coffee brewed too long is gross.
4. Understand how constraints impact expectations
Every project has certain constraints; timeline, budget, etc. These influence how long the refining process can last and how much effort can be put into it. At Indelible experience has taught us that every project needs a bare minimum time frame and budget (see our process) in order to be successful. We know from #3 (yes, I know I’m citing myself…) that there’s a sweet spot when it comes to how much time a designer should devote to a project. That sweet spot varies, but sometimes timelines and budget constraints can influence the work that would be.
This really comes down to the old adage that you have three things: quality, speed, and cost. You can get two.
5. Communicate visually
Designers are visual people. Rather than trying to explain what you want, find an example of it. Is there a website that uses it? Share the site or a screen capture and then supplement with your explanation. Pro-tip: pinterest can be your best friend in this.
6. Keep your target market in mind
Finally, a good designer will always bring the discussion back to your goals. The designs that you are building together should appeal to your target market, and sometimes that’s not you. Are you a 57 year old man selling a line of makeup to 21 year olds? You’re probably not going to be in love with the design that would reach your market best. Remind yourself of this often and you’ll be impressed at how well the end product catches your customers’ eye.