Ways to Get the Most from Your Graphic Designer / by Kevin Davis

All designers aren’t created equal. Many will take the lead and ensure a timely and quality product is produced.  Many designers will cover most of what is mentioned below, but just in case they don’t, you will be armed with enough knowledge to lead a successful design project. At the end of the day, this is your project, your money, and your time. Each project should be a partnership between you and the designer. It helps when both sides come to the table prepared with knowledge, questions, and expectations for the project.

Below are a number of items which may help you get the most from your graphic designer. It will also help you when working with a group to do all necessary back end work within your group before engaging a designer.

  1. Research what you want and the possible design costs ahead of time before reaching out to designers. Having an estimated budget for design costs will help you find a designer quickly vs waiting for a quote in most cases and finding out you aren’t even in the ballpark.
  2. Most freelance designers will require at least a 50% deposit before beginning the project. Make sure your accounts payable department is prepared to cut that check.
  3. Establish a realistic timeframe for completion which includes drafts, revisions, reviews, printing, shipping, and distribution.
  4. Always ask for hard dates. ”When can I expect the first draft, when does it need to be sent to the printer, etc.” Make sure those dates align with your internal dates and requirements.
  5. Have copy 100% ready before you ask a designer to begin your project. Designs are built around copy and not the other way around. Minor tweaks can be made to the content, but the additions should not be so extensive that the design has to change dramatically.
  6. Avoid subjective terms like “cool”, “trendy”, “slick”, “clean”, “hip”. Those things mean different things to each person and are open for interpretation. If you provide a visual example of what “hip” looks, that may help.
  7. Be specific with colors. Designers see colors in numbers and Pantone codes. Always provides a sample color for reference. When you say blue, is it dark blue, royal blue, Pantone 289, Pantone 286? To get a better idea of what color you'd like to use, check out Color Hexa.
  8. If you have a font preference, always provide sample if possible. Otherwise, let your designer know if you want a thin, thick, tall, short, curly, script, etc., style font. There are tons of free websites like Da Font which can help you select the correct one.
  9. Limit revision emails. Meet with your team or powers that be and compile a list of revisions in ONE document or email.
  10. Become familiar with the cloud. Instead of sending large files and forth via email, use a service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box to store all files. There’s nothing more confusing than receiving a list of revisions, based on an old revision because the client missed the latest revision email.
  11. Announce all sizes and formats at the beginning of the project. Will you need 8 ½ x 11 as well as 11x16, 18 x 24, 16x19 powerpoint format, Facebook cover image,  or a square image for Instagram, etc.? It’s a lot like cooking, things are easier to do while the stove is already hot. Also, those additional file sizes and formats might end up in additional fees coming your way.
  12. If you trust them enough to take your money, trust their judgment when you ask what they think.