Communication Matters: 3 Things Your Designer Needs to Know

“If communication bears the mark of failure or inauthenticity, it is because it is sought as fusion.” – Emmanuel Levinas

No one likes to see a project go south, but I’ve lost track of the stories I’ve heard of failed design collaborations. So, what gives? Project managers and content creators blame designers for taking too long or being too expensive, designers often feel under-appreciated and restricted. While compromise is a natural byproduct of two minds colliding to create something beautiful and effective, too often it leaves both ends of the equation wanting.  The good news is the remedy is simple: communicate your expectations to your designer (and vice versa).

If you cover the following three topics with your designer before you begin, I can promise you will have a successful experience with beautiful and effective results.

1. Tell your designer the purpose of the designed asset.

There is little worse for a designer than working blind. While you might think it is as simple as, “We want a case study template,” your designer needs to know the goal or action you hope the reader/viewer takes after reading it. Here’s why: just as you choose every word intentionally, every line drawn – or not drawn – is an intentional decision ushering the customer forward to the desired action.

For example, I recently worked with back to back clients who both wanted a case studies. One wanted the customers to, “Contact us” and the other wanted the customer to, “Start a free trial!”  Because I knew the purpose, we executed the project very differently, with those goals in mind, from text box one.

2. Tell them your vision for the design.

Sometimes I ask clients what their vision for this asset is and they respond with, “Isn’t that your responsibility?” It definitely is, but understanding our client’s expectations, and vision for the designed assets they want is essential to delivering something we know they’ll love. In my experience, when clients don’t know what the vision for a designed asset is, they haven’t though sufficiently. This is easily remedied and extremely important. Failing to do so will be frustrating for you and maddening for your designer. Eliminate the guesswork by explaining your vision of this asset to them.

Not sure how to communicate it? Try this: Find examples of designed assets to that you like and that accomplish the task well and send them to your designer.

3. Discuss your expectations for timeline and review with your designer.

Before you sign any dotted lines, discuss your expectations for a timeline with your designer. They will likely have their own process and timeline. Discussing this ensures both parties know what is expected from day one. We also suggest you get on the phone with your designer at each review point to ensure they’re on the right track. If they don’t offer that option, ask if they would be open to it. At KDMedia we’ve boiled our process down to three calls before we say a project is finished. If your designer hasn’t given you an iterative schedule here’s a good place to start:

  • Call to review wireframe
  • Call to discuss completed draft 1
  • Call to ok final draft

Agreeing to a workflow schedule beforehand prevents any unexpected hours on the invoice.

Designers: Read our blog post, 3 Steps to Better Feedback Calls

What’s worked for you?

Designers: What are the most important items to review with a client before you begin a project?  

Content-creators: What’s one thing you wish would have gone better on your last project with a designer?