Working with a professional can be a scary thing – at least that’s how I felt when I was just starting out two years ago. Even though the whole point of hiring an expert is to be able to access skills and talents to enhance your project without needing to know how to do those kind of things yourself, it can still feel a little daunting to take the initial step to get the ball rolling. The first professional I ever worked with was a website developer and my greatest fear wasn’t that he would do something wrong or that I wouldn’t like it once it was finished, what worried me the most was whether I would be able to communicate my vision well enough to ensure he could design my website to match the image in my head. In the end, the experience was super fun and he did a fabulous job of changing my website’s format. Now I’m offering freelance graphic design services, I understand how client’s may not know how to get the best out of their time working with me, so I’ve written a list of tips that will help you be a graphic designer’s dream client.
Most people who want something created usually have some idea of what they’re looking for – whether it’s a colour scheme, style of logo or maybe even the type of brand elements. When a client presents some material as a representation of the style they’d like to see associated with their brand, this is an unbelievably helpful resource for the artist to get a feel of the look you’re aiming for, for your brand. A mood board is easy to create and will really do you a favour in the communication process – as they say, a picture is a thousand words. A good place to start with this is Pinterest, you can pin things you find inspiring to a board and then share that board with your designer – how convenient is that? If you’re not a fan of Pinterest, another option is to create a folder of images on your computer that can be easily be shared. Sending a mood board or collection of images will ensure the work on your graphics is started promptly and with a clear direction.
Having a vision and being passionate about it is one thing, but trust your graphic designer when they say that a concept won’t work or look good, you’re paying for their expertise so trust them. Sometimes what a client thinks looks good may not be something that is appealing to the public – and let’s be honest with ourselves, who are you trying to impress…yourself or your clients? To offer an example, usually logos should not have more than two different types of fonts, 3 if you’re reeeaally pushing it. I’ve seen logos that have used bright flourescent colours that can’t be easily read and some whereby the font has been so curly that it’s illegible. Be honest with your designer with what you’re looking for, but embrace the fact that they want to create something that you will love and will also make your brand look epic. So if they require a little flexibility on your part, it’s better for you to comply because they’re not saying it to make you unhappy – they want to do you and your brand justice. This of course doesn’t mean you have to forsake all of your previous ideas, it just means that you should be ready to experiment with your vision.
This is a touchy one – most people don’t like talking about money (why?!) but in this industry, I feel the money factor needs to be addressed. Graphics such as logo design may not be a product that you can physically touch, but a lot of work goes into creating a custom piece none-the-less. Trust me, designer’s don’t charge a figure plucked from the sky, there is a reason why the price is the price and haggling with your designer to get a lower price devalues the time and effort that goes into their work (plus it’s a sure-fire way that to get off with a not so great start. Whilst we’re on the money topic, if you have requested a quote and the figure given is a little above your ideal price range, don’t be afraid to let your designer know. It’s a two-minute job and they will appreciate your honesty. If you really like their work and the only thing holding you back is that services are out of your budget, have a chat with them and see if anything can be sacrificed for them to lower the fee a bit (e.g some designers offer unlimited revisions whilst others offer a maximum of 3). If there is something included in a package that you don’t need, be honest and ask your designer if anything can be done to reduce the price – but whatever you do, don’t ask for a reduction and still expect everything because that’s not fair on your artist. Have a chat, you won’t know unless you ask and this is way better than running for the hills without a single peep (this has happened to me a couple of times as soon as I mentioned the M-word!).
This seems like such an obvious easy-peasy one doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many people don’t communicate very well. I’ve had clients who have told me they’d like a logo reworked and then in another sentence said not to change anything at all. Before you send any emails, read through them again to make sure they make sense. Designer’s will take your instructions literally so you want to make sure that everything is easy to understand so there is no room for misinterpretation. Usually a designer can’t move onto the next stage of your project until they’ve received some kind of feedback from you that gives them the green light to progress further (e.g a business card can’t be designed unless the client has given the thumbs up for the logo design). The best thing you can do is keep an eye on your emails and respond in a timely manner otherwise your project timeline may not stay on track and this could cause problems for your designer’s schedule too. Whilst we’re on this topic, if your designer has finished your work then don’t disappear into the sunset, let them know that you’ve successfully received their files and everything is working as it should – this will give your designer closure that the project has come to a successful end and they can move on happily to the next one.
This one is more a kind gesture to your designer than anything else – it’s not a requirement but it sure will put a smile on their face. If a graphic designer has signed off on a project, this hopefully means that you have reached the stage whereby you love your new graphics. Something you can do to show your appreciation is to leave a testimonial, it’s a small gesture but one that will be very much appreciated by your artist because in this industry, testimonials are everything. The designer may market themselves as the bees knees, but it actually counts for something when it comes from a client.
If you’re a graphic designer (or any other kind of designer actually), I’d love to hear what kind of things a client does that makes you love them (or not like them so much!). Leave me a comment telling me about your experiences.