We designers always want to feel proud of what we’re creating and of course we also want our clients to be delighted with the work, too. It would be amazing if we were able to hit it out of the park every time but, the reality is, we can usually expect a few changes and tweaks before a project is ready for final delivery. As a business owner, it’s crucial for you to be able to give constructive design feedback to your graphic designer to make sure the results you get align with your needs and you can both end a project happy with the work.
Clear, concise communication is the key here. Below are a few pointers I want to give to you if you’re looking for some advice on how best to provide design feedback.
1. Always go back to the goal of the project
This is something you and your designer should have clarified before starting the project. What is the project setting out to achieve? How would you measure its success?
Keep the goal of the project at the front of your mind as you consider the design and how it can be improved. Then, as you give feedback you can use the project goal to provide reasons for why you’re asking for changes. E.g. “We really need our web visitors to click the sign-up button, so can we do something to make it stand out more?”
Related post: How to rebrand to reach your business goals faster
2. Set personal preferences aside
It’s very easy to allow your own tastes and aesthetic to influence the way you judge visual designs, but it’s important to separate your personal preferences from what your business needs. At the end of the day, you’re not the target audience — your customers/clients are.
Do your best to avoid using the word “like”. If you find yourself thinking or saying something like “I don’t like the typeface”, be aware that you might be going a bit too narrow on your view of the design. Take a step back and remember the goal of this design (from the first point). “Our brand is very light-hearted, and I think this typeface is too heavy and formal. Can we try something else?” is a million times more useful as feedback for a designer than simply, “I don’t like it.”
3. Back up subjective words with concrete examples
When you’re describing how you want something visual to look and feel, it’s natural to want to use emotive and rather subjective words and phrases. Things like “bold”, “modern”, and “make it pop” can all mean different things to different people, which makes it hard for designers to interpret exactly what a client is looking for.
Instead of relying solely on these sorts of words and leaving it up to your designer to figure out what you want (and leaving the door open for misunderstandings and wasted time), try to provide solid examples or more in-depth explanations of what you have in mind. Sharing pictures can be a great way to quickly communicate a style you’re looking for.
4. Be open to discussion
If you ever find yourself looking at something in a design and wondering, “Why is it like that?” then your first instinct might be to ask for it to be changed to something more in line with what you expect. But before you do, it may be worth asking your designer what the rational behind the design choice is.
Your designer should be someone who has taken the time to understand the problem they’re setting out to help you fix, and has the expertise and experience to design a solution that works. Ideally, they should explain why they’ve decided to go in a certain direction with a design, but sometimes it’s not always practical to explain every little thing. If you’re ever feeling a little unsure of a design choice, simply ask about it and let the designer explain. They may have thought of something you didn’t think of. Or, by discussing it, the two of you may come up with an even better option.
This is why I believe it’s so important that branding and design is a collaborative activity, between designer and client.
5. Include answers to any and all questions your designer asks you
Before you send your feedback through, double check to make sure you’ve answered any queries your designer might have raised when they sent you the designs to review. Often, during the process of working, a designer will find themselves needing a little more information in order to make good design choices for your project. A big pet peeve of mine is when my questions to the client go unanswered. It just ends up slowing me down as I chase down the information I need, and hinders progress. No good for anyone!
I hope these tips help you provide effective feedback to your designer! At the end of the day, you both want the same thing — for the project to be a success — so don’t be afraid of speaking up with suggestions and requests for changes. Always be respectful (I’m sure that goes without saying!) and approach the process of working together with a designer as a partnership.
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