Communicating with your designer may not be the easiest thing in the world. We all think we know what we want in a design, when in reality, we really have no idea what we want until we see what we don't want. Or we know exactly what we want to the very last detail. And since designers aren't mind readers, you can imagine how this kind of collaboration can get messy
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Miscommunications and misunderstandings in design can cause bottlenecks and delay projects—not to mention permanently damage the relationship with your designer. Learning how to talk to a designer so they have the specifics they need from you to complete a project (but enough freedom to incorporate their creativity as well) can cut down on the number of iterations and help build a good relationship for future projects. Also, having the right tools to communicate allows you to collaborate without abandoning your favorite apps and workflows.  
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So, when faced with a design you don't particularly care for, avoid saying the following to your design team:

"Make this bigger/better."

How much bigger? Better how? These are the questions your designer will be wondering. Vague edits may make sense in your mind, but your designer is left wondering about the logistics. Also, commanding your designer to make changes is not only wasting a valuable creative resource, but a surefire way to make them feel like a workhorse. Suggest changes, and if they disagree, ask them why. You both share the same goal, so sharing insights might change your perspective. 

Say this instead:

"This seems a bit small to me, do you think increasing the size by 4px would help it stand out more?"

"I don't like this font. Can you change it?"

Pointing out what you don't like about a design doesn't give your designer enough information to change it to something you like. Providing examples of fonts you think would look good will give your designer some guidelines to work with. Also, prefacing feedback by sharing something you do like about the design will help the designer understand the style you're looking for.  

Say this instead:

"I'm looking at other fonts for the main title, what do you think about changing it to Helvetica Nueue or something similar?"

"I want it to look more sexy, but not too sexy."

Giving conflicting feedback is straight gibberish to designers and doesn't clarify what you're looking for at all. This may also be a sign of you not knowing what you want either. Instead, be honest with your designer and tell them you're not quite sure what you're looking for. Provide examples of other designs and point out exactly what you like about them. This will help you understand what you're looking for and give them better direction on what to change.

Say this instead: 

"I really like the style of this example. Maybe we can find an image like this that's a bit more edgy."

"There was a small edit in the beginning... don't worry, I fixed it."

Although you might think you're saving your designer some time, making changes on your own disrupts the creative vision the designer intended for the piece. The designer is just as much a part of the process as you are, so focus on what edits you want made and leave the actual editing to your designer.

Say this instead:

"I want to suggest one small edit in the beginning. Let's hop on a call when you're free and go over it."

"My last edit should only take 5 minutes"

Never assume something is going to be a quick fix. Especially when the designer has a ton of other tasks to work on, be conscious about giving time constraints and always allow extra time for the designer to make it right. Instead, ask the designer how long an edit will take. If you need it done quickly, let them know when you would like it done and ask if it's possible to get it done by then. If not, don't put impossible demands onto your designer. You'll have to make the call on whether it's more important to make the change or get it out on time. 

Say this instead:

"I'm hoping to have a final version by EOD Thursday, could you make the final changes by then?"

"I don't think changing the color will make a difference."

Trust your designer to do their job. If they have a vision and a clear understanding of what the design is intended for, trust them on it. You might think changing something small might not make a difference, but in design, the devil is in the details. Once you give your designer the autonomy to make it their own, you'll both be able to trust each other's vision and feedback down the road.  

Say this instead: 

"If you think changing the color is a good idea, let's do it. I don't feel strongly about it either way."

What are some other best practices to keep in mind when working with a designer?

Share your tips in the comments.
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Looking to improve how your creative team works together? Check out our Definitive Guide to Building a World-Class Internal Creative Agency.
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