Getting the Most Value from Your Designer
Whether it's a logo and brand identity, package design, or a full website, professional design is an big, exciting investment. You've put a lot of thought into this decision. So now that you've decided to hire a designer, how can you be sure to get the most value for your time and money? Well, friend, these 7 tips will help you do just that!
1. Hire the right designer.
To get the most value from your design investment, you have to start by finding and hiring the right designer for your brand. Quality, budget, and timeline are all factors you'll need to prioritize and consider, but what's my advice? Find an expert that you can trust—one who really resonates with you and what you're trying to achieve. This is an investment that will transform your brand, so you need the right designer for the job.
2. Discovery first, design later.
Before your designer can be expected to translate your vision into brilliant visuals, there will be a lot of research and discovery. Although you'll be anxious to skip ahead to the designs, this part of the process is absolutely crucial. This is where your designer will come to truly understand your audience, brand goals, and vision. Be sure to tell her everything you can up front—now is the time to gush about future goals and how you plan to use your beautiful new brand!
3. Set clear expectations.
Be sure to set yourselves up for success. Give your designer everything she needs to get started on the right foot—a completed questionnaire, signed contract, deposit, written content, etc. Make sure she tells you what will be delivered and when. It benefits you both to stay on schedule.
Make clear communication a priority. If something isn't clear or doesn't align with your vision, for heaven's sake let her know! A lot can get lost over email, and often there's no better cure than a phone call or video chat to talk things out.
4. Give the right kind of feedback.
Design critiquing and feedback are an essential part of working with your designer. No designer will always knock it out of the park the first time, and your feedback is a crucial to achieve the best results together—better than what either of you could do alone. Design is a collaborative process after all!
So what should you communicate with your design feedback? Tell your designer what you like, and what seems to be working well. Also tell her what you don't like and what doesn't seem to be working. Most importantly, tell her why. Give as much detail as you can on what feels off and what's spot on.
What isn't helpful? Don't tell your designer what to do to fix it or to see it 5 different ways. Designing is the designer's job, and she can solve the problem stupendously as long as she has the right information from you. Don't mock up the changes you're imagining, since this doesn't set the right tone of trust and requires your designer to reverse-engineer your mock-up to figure out what you thought the problem was in the first place.
So what should you communicate with your design feedback?
Focus on the right things—your brand goals and audience, not personal preference. Every decision should be in service of your audience and goals. Your designer wants to create amazing things for you just as much as you want her to. Trust her—she's the expert in what she does and you hired her for a reason.
5. Carefully select your advisors.
You don't want to craft your brand in a vacuum, so it's only natural that you'll want to show the design proofs around. This is absolutely fine, and encouraged even! However, be sure you're asking the right people. Don't ask your neighbor and your daughter who's taking her first design class. Choose a few trusted advisors who understand your vision, goals, and audience. Unless they're part of your target audience, everyone else's opinions and preferences are irrelevant.
6. Stick to the schedule.
You and your designer established that almighty timeline up front, and both of you are responsible for sticking to it. Of course, emergencies do happen but otherwise be sure you're holding up your end of the timeline. It's important to keep that positive momentum going, and odds are your designer only has a set amount of time to dedicate to your project. So make this time count!
7. Enjoy the process.
Hiring a designer is a big deal, and although there are many things to consider, this is such an exciting time! Watching your brand evolve from one week to the next is truly amazing, and seeing your brand vision become a reality that exceeds your wildest expectations is nothing short of magic. Enjoy every minute of it!