Industry Insights from Our Experts

The DOs and DON’Ts of Working with a Designer

Filed under Corporate Culture, Popular, Usability


  1. DO: Communicate
    DON’T: Expect a mind reader
    Communication is an integral component to any project, be it design related or otherwise. No communication or miscommunication can tank an entire project. From the first meeting with the designer, work together to create a clear project vision. One of the most helpful pieces of information you can provide during this meeting is a selection of examples of other similar works that you like. Collaboration with the designer during the entire project is also necessary. Establish a communication schedule so that the project remains on track. Ensure that this schedule is adhered to. If a designer doesn’t hear anything throughout the project they assume that everything is going well. No designer is going to be happy if presented with a laundry list of changes at the end of a project.
  2. DO: Work with reasonable timelines
    DON’T: Expect it NOW
    Plan a reasonable timeline with your designer, and decide on when you will need things such as drafts and the complete project. Also, understand that in design tasks can be a lot more time-consuming than you’d expect. While it may only take you a moment to explain what you want, such as changing a colour from red to blue, it could take the designer hours. This can be especially so when the project is very creative driven. Design is open to interpretation, subject to conflicting opinions, and viewed emotionally, and the progress is largely driven by the designers own inspiration. Inspiration is difficult to estimate for as you never know when it will hit you.
  3. DO: Trust Your Designer
    DON’T: Micromanage
    While it’s both understandable and necessary to want to be involved in the design process, you’ll have to allow space for your designer to work creatively. A designer is an experienced professional. Telling them you know better about their field would be much the same as giving your doctor advice while you’re getting your appendix removed. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask questions. The end result is something you must be happy with. For example, if something, such as the use of a particular image, doesn’t seem right to you, ask your designer to explain why they chose the image they did.
  4. DO: Embrace white space
    DON’T: Add for the sake of adding
    It’s tempting to have your designer cram all nooks and crannies with additional content, especially in print design, as space can be expensive. However, doing so will leave things looking busy, cluttered and unsophisticated. Not only does white space provide a cleaner aesthetic, it also improves readability and helps attract the eye to the important content.
  5. DO: Provide constructive feedback
    DON’T: Use meaningless buzzwords
    Design is subjective, which means that pointing out that you don’t like a colour or an image does little to help the designer. Designing based on someone else’s feelings is difficult. Rather, explain what it is you don’t like about something. As well, generalized comments such as “it needs more wow factor”, “think outside the box” or “make it pop” are not very constructive. While designers try their hardest to decipher this language, your designer will appreciate specific examples or descriptions for feedback.
  6. DO: Know when to stop
    DON’T: Request endless changes
    There is no such thing as a perfect project, and a long list of small changes is an easy way to balloon costs and disrupt timelines. There will always be changes, tweaks and updates that could be done, and it’s easy to become obsessed and lose perspective. Part of the process is to know when to stop. Try taking a step back and view the project from fresh eyes. Or have an outsider who isn’t emotionally invested in the project take a look.


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