For this blog post I thought I’d cover some of the things you can do when working with a graphic designer to help ensure they produce the best work for you and your money. These will also keep the designer happy and onboard with your projects.
AGREE CLEAR DEADLINES WITH YOUR DESIGNER
This one is really important but often overlooked. Before you even agree the work with the graphic designer, have clear dates in your head for when you expect the first proof or concepts and when you want the final signed off piece of design made available to you. This not only gives you a critical path so you know when to expect something back, it also helps the graphic designer plan his time and projects.
MAKE YOUR BRIEF AS COMPLETE AS POSSIBLE
The starting point of all graphic design work is the client’s brief. It’s your chance to explain to the designer exactly what you want and expect. If done correctly, it can make the whole process much easier for you and the designer, resulting in less proofs, a quicker turn around and a better end piece of artwork. Take a look at my other blog post “What to put in a design brief” for a more detailed post on this. http://www.destinationcreative.co.uk/my-blog/what-to-put-in-a-design-brief
PROVIDE SOME INSPIRATION
You don’t need to tell the designer exactly how to do the design, after all that’s what you pay them for but it can help both of you if you provide a mood board or links to images or websites that have the same look and feel that you’d like used in your own project.
GIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
If, when you see your first draft from the designer, you really don’t like the look of what has been produced then don’t just tell them you hate it and they need to come up with something else. You need to explain what elements you don’t like, why you think they don’t work and what you were expecting. This helps give the designer some creative direction.
RESPOND TO QUERIES QUICKLY
Sometimes, even when you’ve provided the graphic designer with a great brief and all the content they need, there will still be questions. It can be clarification of which image to use, too much text to fit in a certain space or just something which isn’t clear. Often, a simple one line answer is all that is needed but you need to ensure you get back with an answer as soon as you can to keep things moving.
Once you’ve found the ideal freelance graphic designer to work with on your project you will most likely be asked by them to send through a design brief. Don’t worry, it’s actually pretty straight forward and is just a document giving the graphic designer the information needed to complete the work for you.
Here are the main pieces of information needed in a design brief:
A TITLE FOR THE PROJECT AND VERSION NUMBER
This is so both you and your designer know exactly which project you are talking about when discussing the work. This is especially useful when it’s part of a large, multi piece project. As design briefs often evolve and change, adding a version number also helps ensure everyone is looking at the same brief.
A PROJECT OVERVIEW
This doesn’t need to be a War and Peace. It just needs to be a simple overview of the reason for the project and, most importantly, the goal of the artwork your designer will produce. Is it to drive footfall into your store or to promote a special offer? Giving this kind of information allows the designer to know how to create something that best achieves your aim for doing the project.
ARTWORK SIZE AND PAGE COUNT
Confirm what size the artwork should be and also page count. This stops there being any misunderstanding and your little A5 flyer turning into an A1 poster!
TIMESCALES AND DEADLINES
This can be a really important one to include and is often one people leave out. Set a date you need to receive first proof by, when you will provide amends back to the designer and when the deadline for supplying to the printer is. This not only helps the designer manage their time but also gives you an agreed timescale in writing should there be any issues.
This one depends on the size and complexity of the project. Sometimes you can provide the text content for the project within the brief itself. This works for relatively small, simple briefs but if you’re working on a 100 page catalogue then I’d suggest providing it in a separate text document.
Finally, if you have any icons, images or other elements you want the designer to include, make a note of them in the brief. Whilst you should never provide images, logos or icons by embedding them into your brief (they should all be sent as separate files) it helps the designer if you explain where you’d like them to appear if you already have a preference.
Malcolm Roberts is a Worcestershire based graphic designer, blogger and lover of all things creative.
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