Today’s contribution has kindly been made by the lovely Dave Black, Design Magician at BlackArts. A short while ago he left a comment on my post Keep It Simple, Stupid and I later asked him if I could include it as a post. He also contributed to StartupCafe here .
I’ve chucked in a few images to break up the text here but otherwise these helpful tips are all his! I am hoping for many shiny pearls of wisdom from Mr Black over the coming months so watch this space….
So you’ve decided to have your web site/business cards/logo redesigned and you’re going to hire a professional designer to do it. But how can you get the best from this strange, tieless, jeans-wearing creature?
Well, there’s no doubt that designers can be odd, and the design process can seem impenetrable and arcane.
But there is actually method in the madness and there are things you can do to help your designer create something that’ll both do what you want and suit your tastes. So here’s our quick guide to briefing a designer…
Describe Your Target Audience
Your designer needs to understand who buys your products or services since they may not be one of your customers themselves.
Quickly summarise a target audience – how much do they usually spend per person? What countries are they from?
Set the Design Aims
What do you want the design to do for your business? Do you want more customers? Fewer customers paying more per person? Do you want to look like a bigger company? A friendlier one?
Put down some aims – they’ll really help your designer fit the design to your company’s needs.
You probably know a few of your competitors. In fact you may even daydream about strangling one or two of them. But they’re probably not all idiots…look for two or three of the ones who have designs you really like and give a reason why you like them.
Designers often work with customers in a lot of different sectors and may not understand your industry well, so it’ll help if you can show them who the leaders are.
If there are colours you really hate or companies your design must absolutely not look like at any cost, tell your designer.
Designing for someone you don’t know is a lot like buying a present for a stranger: it has to be really nice but that’s difficult if you don’t know the recipient very well.
Design is highly personal and very subjective.
Be careful who you ask to look at a design. Ask enough people and eventually you’ll find one person who really, really hates it.
Restrict your review team to the real decision makers and pass changes to your designer in batches, not one at a time.
There are three things every client wants: they want their design cheap, they want it to be brilliant and they want it soon. Unfortunately in this universe a client can only have two out of those three at any one time.
So the design can be brilliant and cheap – but you won’t get it until doomsday.
It can be brilliant and you can have it tomorrow – if you don’t mind a bill that’d embarrass a pelican.
Or it can be cheap and you can have it right now – but it’ll look like a dog’s dinner.
Above all else, designers are by and large sensitive about their designs and they really, really want you to like them. They can be thin-skinned and sulky but you can avoid this by following one easy rule: be constructive.
Being constructive doesn’t mean pretending to like things you don’t, it means that if you do dislike something, you say so – but at the same time you supply a better idea of your own for discussion. Just saying, “don’t like it” isn’t especially helpful – say why you don’t like it and what you’d like better so the designer can address those points.
You can ask the others who help you choose a design to follow this rule too. Everyone knows a colleague who picks holes in everything for the sake of it (you know who I’m talking about) and this rule can defuse disagreements which can end in partnership-ending screaming matches.
No one likes to talk about the bill. But it’s crucial to have a realistic budget in mind and be honest with your designer about it.
Don’t turn the budget issue into a guessing game where the designer has to read your mind (or wallet), hoping not to either underprice himself or price himself out of the running. If you don’t have a lot to spend, say so. A good designer who likes your company will always find a way to do something for whatever budget you have.
Dealing with a designer should be one of the fun things you do and a lot more interesting than most tasks!
Pick a designer whose work you like or even better just a designer who you like and follow the above rules. You’ll stand a much better chance of enjoying the process and getting a result which will do your business some real good.