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6 Tips for working with a graphic designer

August 1, 2016

You probably know the value of a well-designed product but when it comes to creating, sometimes there’s not enough time or you’re missing the knowledge and tools to get it done. So for some of your projects, big or small, you might be thinking of hiring a specialist. Doing so is in most cases a big step and you should prepare yourself before starting to work with the graphic designer of your choice.

Designers often seem to be a special kind of crowd, slightly crazy, talking their own language (as you can see in my post 10 Most Used Design Terms Explained), a bit mysterious and mostly dressed in black. But don’t let this scare you. In my opinion, you can only profit from working with a graphic designer.


For some of your design projects, big or small, you might be thinking about hiring a specialist. Doing so is in most cases a big step and you should prepare yourself before you start working with a designer | thatistheday.com

How do you recognize a good graphic designer?

  • A good graphic designer is three people in one. He’s like your mom. Always prepared to give you some good advice e.g on budgeting your project. He doesn’t want you to make mistakes that will cost you. If he can find a better or cheaper solution, even if it would mean to send you to somebody else, he will point you in this direction.
  • He can also be your BFF who tells you the truth even if it hurts. If your idea will not work or is not viable, he will tell you upfront. No hard feelings though because a good designer will give you suggestions on how to make it work.
  • He might be a bit like a couch doctor too because, in order to get a good project on the way, you will have to tell him all. The good and the bad. Your ambitions and expectations, what kind of results you want in the future and what didn’t work in the past. Don’t worry, a good designer will be there to listen to.

How to work with a graphic designer?

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. – Red Adair

Provide information

You should provide as much information as possible before you start the project. You should be really clear about what you want. Give detailed information on the product and who it is. What is your overall goal? What message do you want to deliver? For this, it’s better to prepare some notes in advance. Some designers will give you a questionnaire to provide this information.

Talk about timing

It’s important to speak about time management before starting. Give a clear time frame for when you need the project to be finished but be realistic. Most designers have tight schedules. Prepare yourself to wait and don’t plan your projects last minute.

Bring examples

Show examples of your old projects, provide a brand board or style sheet, you can even bring some things that inspired your idea. But don’t give an example of your competition and expect your designer to copy it 1:1. This would not only be stupid in regard to your marketing strategy but also a copyright violation.

Be open for advice

You might be absolutely confident about your ideas, but you must remember why you are giving your project to a designer. You can profit from his knowledge. As I said above, he will tell you what works and whatnot. Trust him when he makes proposals to improve your idea.

…designers can make life more bearable by producing stuff that touches its audience rather than fucks them in the head. – Jon Wozencraft

Give quality feedback

Once the project starts and your designer will send you the first draft, he wants you to give him feedback. Just to say “Nope” won’t help anybody here. If it’s not what you expected, again, you have to go into the details. Separate your critique in color, fonts, images used, overall layout (placement of design elements). Try not to be vague, e.g. you want a darker blue for the headlines, don’t just say “I don’t like the color of the headline.” Learn more: The Basics of Good Design

Don’t be afraid to ask

If you don’t understand what your designer is talking about, don’t hesitate to ask. They sometimes use special terms non-designers don’t understand. If you want to prepare yourself, you can read my post about The 10 Most Used Design Terms.

I hope this was helpful. If you have further questions on working with a designer, fire away in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends. 

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