7 Tips for Working with A Designer: A cheatsheet for the non-designer


By Emily Taing Being a designer comes with plenty of challenges. Often I'm assigned to work with non-designers to build something impressive for our audience. Designs can be interpreted differently depending on who is viewing it, and I know sometimes all parties can get frustrated with a visual design's approval process. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to work more efficiently with many outside departments following a few simple steps. If you're working with a creative team, I recommend adhering to these 7 tips for working with a designer. They'll help you brainstorm better ideas, produce better results, and minimize conflicts.

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Before a project starts, it's important for the whole team, including the designer, to understand exactly what's needed in order to complete a successful project. Designers are problem solvers. So, present them with a problem to solve, not the solution to implement.

2. Provide the goods. Give your designer a clear outline of requirements so that they can build around them. Provide Technical specs and the most current Brand Guidelines. These are essential to creating content that will be consistent and effectively represent your brand. The Brand Guide can be as simple as defining colors, fonts, accepted uses of your logo, legal requirements, and the overall tone/voice. If there are specific images/campaigns that need to be included, share those elements with them. Any photography, vector or native files including AI, EPS, or PSDs would be extremely helpful.

3. Sketch it out. If you have an idea you are trying to communicate, don’t be afraid to sketch it out and send it along. Designers are very visual and can bridge the gap between your sketch and your explanation. Concrete examples (screenshots, magazine tear outs, etc) of elements that you are alluding to are also helpful.

4. Understand the process. Designing is a process that takes time and effort. As a “non-designer”, you may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place for what you may think is “quick” or “easy” fix. When proposing a project, keep in mind all of the creative brainstorming, sketching, drafts, revisions, etc that are required when putting together a project.

5. Encourage creativity. Always leave room for designers to be creative in order for them to get their best work out. Designers like being able to use their own creative judgment to improve a project. Give them space to work- this gives the designers the opportunity to come up with something that you haven’t thought of before.

6. Be honest but nice. When giving feedback, put yourself in the shoes of the Designer. They’ve put in a lot of time and effort working on this project. If your designer’s creative isn’t on par with the direction you were imagining, let them know. Many Designers are more than happy to modify their designs as long as they have clear direction. Please avoid terms such as “make it pop” "jazz it up" or “surprise me.” Highlight what you liked (the more specific the better) and exactly what they need to improve on. Don’t just say “I don’t like the red”. Explain the meaning and emotion behind your comment. Instead, say “The red has a dark, eerie feeling- we want to make them feel happy instead.”

7. Say thank you. Designers are not factory workers, churning out generic products. We put thought and emotion into everything we work on. Be cautious of your requests and keep an open dialogue. Working together as a team by collaborating and inspiring helps to produce something that is both novel and useful.

What frustrations have you had working with designers and/or creatives? What do you think could have been done (on either side) to improve communications? Would any of the above tips have helped during that time? Do you have any new tips to add? Comment Below!