Working with a graphic designer on a print project or website should be a collaborative effort from beginning to end, always focusing on the main objectives and your members, clients or customers. Part of that process involves giving useful feedback to your graphic designer on the designs they present you with. This helps to:
- ensure a smooth process with good communication;
- create a more effective, collaborative design;
- reach your audience by demonstrating that you understand them and their needs;
- achieve results.
Here are five ways to provide constructive feedback to a graphic designer:
- Always keep the main objective in mind, not personal tastes. Graphic design is not a work of art for art’s sake, but a collaborative work that communicates effectively to your audience, meets goals and gets results. Just because your (or your designer’s) favorite color is hot pink doesn’t mean it is appropriate for your organization’s audience (although, in some cases, it very well could be). Remember: it’s not about you, it’s about your audience. A design that speaks directly to your target market will build trust and provoke them to act, while a misaligned one will alienate them and cause them to lose trust in your organization’s brand.
- Communicate the why, not the how. Instead of saying, “Make that bold,” ask that it be made more prominent. There are several ways to do that—font weight, size, position, color—and the designer will figure out which method works best.
- Don’t necessarily dismiss an entire design that you don’t like. You might not immediately like a design. However, conveying something specific that the graphic designer can address (as opposed to saying you just don’t like it) will provide better direction:
- Is the design a bit too techy for your somewhat conservative audience?
- Are the colors too muted?
- Are the images not quite right?
The designer can come up with solutions that don’t involve redoing the entire design. On the other hand, if you do like certain aspects of it, mention what you do like.
- Don’t expect to be able to “cherry pick” when reviewing multiple designs (although sometimes you can). With some designs, it is possible to replace a portion with a part from another design and have it work; sometimes not. Not all designs are modular in nature; sometimes tweaking a small area requires that an entire design be reworked. The design must work as a whole, and some “cherry picked” changes result in an overall design that is undesirable. However, if you like the colors from design #2, the photos from design #3 and the overall design of #1, that could be a viable solution. Since there are so many possible design options, it’s impossible for the designer to show every possible combination of colors, fonts and images.
- Use caution when allowing design by committee. The purpose of the design is to appeal to your audience—not please your family, friends or coworkers. Everyone has their own opinion, and they haven’t necessarily been involved from the beginning of the process. Unless they have, they won’t be aware of the objectives of the project, have an understanding of the audience you are trying to reach or know the reasons behind taking (or not taking) a certain direction that you may have discussed with your designer. You should, of course, solicit feedback from any other decision makers who have been involved in the process. They can also verify that all necessary information and elements (boilerplate text, for example) have been included.
Communicating effectively and clearly with your designer will make for a more efficient process with fewer revisions (saving you time and money) and help you achieve better results.