In college, it was a common joke among design students that none of our friends or family really understood what it was we did. That's why I wrote my last post (What Is Visual Branding? Do I Need It?) to explain what my area of design is and what it can do for businesses.
This week, I'm tackling some common misconceptions clients have had about designers based on my experience working as a freelance designer. These misconceptions have put strain on our client/designer relationship, and caused frustration for both of us.
I'm here to teach you 3 things you should know before hiring a graphic designer. It will help you get the best work out of your designer, and make the relationship much smoother, resulting in a satisfied client, a happy designer, and a great final design.
We can't read your mind
Please, don't tell a designer to just "throw something together." If your directions are simply to make something look good, you have given us no starting point and no goal to work towards - we're left basically shooting in the dark. You have some sort of expectations about how the design is going to look whether you realize it or not. Chances are, if you give me no directions, you're going to be disappointed with what I bring back to you because it doesn't match the image you have in your mind. Expectations should be discussed at the very beginning of every design, or they'll control the entire process from behind-the-scenes.
We Know more than how to use photoshop
I've had a few people approach me about "polishing" a design they've already created. What they almost always mean is they don't know how to use design software and that's the only thing stopping them from designing it themselves. They give very specific directions about how their image should be created and leave no room for creativity. In truth, if you want to design your images and brand yourself, a better investment would be design software - there are plenty of tutorials that can teach you the basics.
Yes, I know how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design software, but that's not what I spent four years studying at college. That was just one freshman-level class. I also took Intro to Graphic Design, 2D Design, Color Theory, Type Design, Graphic Design History, Photography, Graphic Design I&II, Advanced Design I&II, Aesthetics, and Principles of Marketing. And you want to hire me because I know how to use Photoshop? That's just not getting your money's worth.
If you choose to hire a designer, hire us for our expertise, not just our software.
We have a process for a reason
Understand that design is functional, not decorative. Your project isn't just going to hang on your wall - it's going to communicate with your audience and hopefully convince them to become customers/clients.
We can't create an effective design until we know what your goals are.
Design brings everything together: your goals, your audience, your copy and your imagery. Good design makes that all work together beautifully - it balances all the pieces, makes the most important parts the most prominent, and balances everything in an appealing way.
Design is the final step in creating collateral for your brand, so when you ask us to create a design without having all the information provided or finished, you're asking us to create a template for you to fill in later, instead of a design perfectly crafted to the specific needs and pieces of the project.
Ignoring a designer's process also means more revisions as you fill in the gaps you left out in the beginning. That's a win for no one. You end up spending more as the revisions continue, and no designer likes spending their time changing the copy over and over.
What do you think?
As a designer
Do you agree with this list? Do you have common misconceptions you run into that were not included? How have you overcome these misconceptions?
As a client
Have you had these misconceptions cause frustrations in previous projects? Do you think you're using your designer to their fullest potential? Are there misconceptions designers have had about working for you that have caused you headaches?