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Sometimes it seems like designers speak a foreign language, doesn’t it?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You really don’t need to know all the fancy terminology in order to communicate well within the design world. Instead, an understanding of some basic concepts will help you get the website (or brochure, or logo, or ....) of your dreams.
What Do Designers Do, Exactly?
They draw pretty pictures and play with Photoshop. Nope. Sorry, not quite.
A designer’s job is actually communicating, telling a story visually. Not just making things look pretty.
I think Steve Jobs was right on when he said, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.”
What we see first when we look at a design is the surface appearance. The colors, the pictures, the fonts used. While these things are important, they lead to a deeper issue – how the product works, be it a website, a brochure, a logo, etc. If your clients aren’t getting the message you want them to know, then it isn’t a good design. Even if, on the surface, the design looks flashy and impressive. And good designers know that.
Having a good relationship and good communication between you and your designer is a great first step in getting your message out to your clients. But how do you do that when designers are all incomprehensible coffee-guzzling, Apple-loving hipsters?
Say This, Not That
“I’d like to put more emphasis on this article” NOT “Let’s make this article bigger”
I think that oftentimes, clients ask for elements to be made bigger because they want more emphasis on a specific part of the message. Instead, tell your designer where you would like more emphasis. Designers are trained and skilled in creating emphasis through the use of color, placement, size, etc. Making something bigger might not be the appropriate solution for your design, but your designer will find a solution that works for everyone.
“I love the buttons on this website” NOT “I want my website to look just like this guy’s”
It really isn’t ok for designers to steal someone else’s work. Besides, what worked for the message someone else wanted to convey may not work as well for the message you have to tell. DO show your designer if you find something on another site or brochure, etc. that you like! Explain what parts specifically you like. The way the buttons look? The colors used? The general layout? But don’t expect your product to be identical.
“I'm not getting the warm feeling I was envisioning” NOT “I don’t like blue”
Instead of focusing specifically on a color, a font, etc., focus on the mood it gives you, the message portrays. A lot of times, color palettes, layouts, or font combinations used in a way you might not have imagined can give you the exact feeling you are looking for. A designer knows how to do this, give them the chance to show you.
“I’m having a hard time reading this section” NOT “Change this font to Times New Roman”
It’s ok to not like part of the design or request changes. You should! But instead of telling the designer how to fix the problem, explain what you have an issue with and why. Be as specific as possible. Can’t read something? Want more open space? Give the designer the room to fix the issue while still maintaining the integrity of the rest of the design.
The Bottom Line
Trust your designer. Remember that they are professionals. Just as you are experts in your field, designers are experts in their field.
And as for all designers being incomprehensible coffee-guzzling, Apple-loving hipsters? Well...yea, I’m guilty of all those charges.