Working Effectively With Your Graphic Designer

Collaborating with a graphic designer on any project can take a leap of faith. Will your creative vision be carried through, your brand standards respected and your deadlines met? Here are a few guidelines from a designer’s perspective to help ensure success.

Establish expectations, timeline and budget up front
Communicate to your designer exactly what the deliverables are. For example, will printing be needed or coding required beyond the design process, or does the designer’s involvement end with an electronic file? Share your goals, your resources and who your audience is.

Establish key dates—what needs to be done, by whom, and when. Ensure that your budget covers the complete design process, from initial creative concepts through multiple rounds of revisions.

Provide brand guidelines and share examples of existing work
A brand book is an invaluable resource for a designer, so share it if you have one. Be sure to supply any proprietary typefaces and imagery and share with the designer any related creative materials. Also be ready to provide any required logos in a vector format, which allows infinite sizing and a transparent background.

Finalize content before you hand it over to the designer
Check for spelling errors and style discrepancies. Extra spaces between sentences and inconsistent punctuation cause the designer more work. Making edits in layout is much more time-consuming and costly than revising your original text. Revising infographics is particularly challenging, and changing one piece of data can affect multiple graphics.

Decide beforehand how you’ll handle photography and art. With very few exceptions, you can’t simply pull photos from the web. Legal considerations aside, an image that works on a website doesn’t necessarily have the resolution to work in print. And know that photographers, illustrators and stock content can get expensive.

Create a point of contact for edits and revisions
Have your designer communicate with one person who can provide edits in batches rather than piecemeal. There’s nothing more frustrating for a designer than trying to distill what’s important from a forwarded email thread.

Be realistic about timing, and expect to pay a premium for rush jobs
Despite all of the technology involved, the design process is still very much a manual effort, and good design takes time. Know, too, that requests for work done outside of normal business hours may bring additional charges.

Provide honest feedback
Honest feedback during the design process is expected and appreciated. Good communication between you and your designer will go a long way in ensuring a successful project, delivered on time and on budget.

ABOUT Ryan Bahrke

One of Wordsmithie's senior designers, Ryan has more than 15 years of experience in creative direction and management, working with companies like Google, Quantcast, RSM, Navigant, Starbucks, and Ace Hotel. Ryan is the principal of Auslander Creative in Denver.