The latest issue of ASAE’s magazine, Associations Now, provides a great article on how to communicate with your design firm. The original article, written by Jen Smith, can be found here.
Tips for Communicating With Your Designers
It’s a scenario guaranteed to raise tension: You hear your designer lament the overuse of a particular font while all you want is a brochure that will help you meet your fundraising (or sales, or registration) goals. Your designer, on the other hand, hears you saying, “Well, I just don’t like it. I don’t know why,” when he or she is looking for substantive feedback. How can you get on the same page—literally?
The key to successful partnerships with designers is to understand that your words and their images are working together to create a message. If there is a disconnect between the two, the message is all but lost. Here are some suggestions on how to do so, from a designer’s perspective.
Involve your designer early in the planning process. We want the piece we’re creating to be as effective and useful as you do. Designers can offer ideas to help structure a piece to better convey a particular message, or even ways to make a piece more cost efficient in printing or production.
Understand that designers aren’t just worried about how something looks. We want to create a strong piece in which words and images work well together. Be willing to listen to suggestions about content or wording from your designer, just as we are willing to listen to suggestions about imagery or placement. A team effort makes the final product stronger.
Tell us what you want the piece to say, not how you want it to look. Often we hear “make this text block bold and bigger,” when what you really mean is “this text is more important than the current design shows.” Moving the text to a different area of the page or altering the design of other elements might be a better solution than changing the font size.
Communicate your reactions as fully as possible. It can be difficult to put into words why you do or don’t like a particular design, but even a simple description of what you’re seeing can be more helpful than “I just don’t like it.” This goes back to being on the same page from the start of a project: If the designer understands the goals of the piece, it will be easier to explain why what you see doesn’t meet those goals.
We won’t let our egos get in the way if you don’t. Designers can get a bad rap for caring only about design for design’s sake. This couldn’t be more false. We care about what we are communicating. We are not designers so much as we are visual communicators. When you put it that way, we’re not that different from you.