Knowing how to give feedback to your designer is crucial to the progress of a project. When you are required to get approval from multiple people, feedback can become a sea that you and your designer will drown in. However, there are ways to navigate that sea.
Tip #1: Have A Unifying Vision
Before bringing anyone in to do work for you, make sure you have your vision and goal(s) set. The more unified the team, the better the overall project and process will go. Know the gameplan and what you’re trying to achieve. The designer is more likely to be successful when the goal is clearly defined as early as possible. Creative clarity is always important to have from the very beginning. Keep in mind that the unifying vision shouldn’t be at the whim of any one person’s personal preference but at the whim of the overall goal. This vision must be kept at the forefront of the minds of all parties involved, moving forward.
Tip #2: Be/Have A Point Person
Make sure the team selects a point person to be the main contact for your designer. This person will be the liaison between the designer and the rest of the team. Don’t let various members of the team shout changes to your designer at any given time. That could get overwhelming to the designer and make the process very choppy and unfocused. One person should be the collector of all the feedback and the main communicator with the designer.
Tip #3: Be Organized
Filter and organize the feedback for your designer. Some feedback will be repeated. Some people may even contradict each other, depending on how unified the team is (see Tip #1). In your meeting with your squad, collect all the thoughts of the people present and discuss those thoughts. Condense everything to an organized bullet point list of changes and comments. When I’m working with a team of clients, I ask for all feedback to be given at once in a single e-mail. It helps me to see it all at once and neatly itemized. I want to make all the necessary changes at once rather than change some things then get other changes later from feedback I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t let the project become another design by committee statistic. It is possible to come to the proper design solution that satisfies the team need with proper execution and communication.
I prefer collaboration over dictation.
I’m not a tool. I’m a teammate. Whether you are the designer or the client, the best result comes with you are working together. Teammates value what each brings to the table and allows each other to flourish within their skillset. As a designer, I am not here to just execute someone else’s vision. I’m here to use my professional expertise to help produce the right design solution for the client’s goal(s).
Collaboration needs fluid, frequent, and effective communication. It requires and develops trust between all parties. Mutual respect of what each is bringing to table enhances the experience and amplifies the joy of the working relationship. When everyone feels valued and everyone is invested, the chances of success increase exponentially. The best work comes from the best teams and those teams are more likely to want to work together again in the future.
Designers must listen to their clients. It’s their brand/project they are investing their money in. You won’t know what path needs to be taken without conversations and research. Even though you’re the designer, those conversations could spark something within you that leads to the solution. Clients need to listen to their designers. The designers are the experts in the field you need. The designer will provide you with a professional perspective you need. Together, you can ask the necessary questions and answer them all with combined creativity and clarity.
Collaboration also occurs designer to designer. For example, let’s say there is a large visual brand identity project on the table. One designer may not have all the skills to execute the solution. Within the design community, there are specialists. An illustrator may be brought in to work with a user interface designer or a website designer. Collaboration requires you to know your strengths and being willing to trust those who have strengths you don’t.
The north star is the goal. Everything that is done is to serve that end. Put ego aside, amplify self-awareness, and value the expertise of others. Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.
Writing down your process is important. It is great to know how you best operate so you can communicate that with those who potentially want to work with you on a project. In this post, I will take you through the client process I typically use for my freelance design clients.
The Questionnaire + Q&A
Information is vital to understanding. Whenever anyone reaches out to me about possibly designing something for them, I send them to the contact page on my portfolio website. My questionnaire gives me much needed background of the project, their goals, and any design preferences. It is my job as a designer to bring the vision of the client to fruition. I can’t do that unless I know everything I can as early as I can.
After receiving the initial questionnaire answers, we delve deeper and have further discussion with the goal to gain the utmost clarity on the project needs and goals. This is where I learn more about you as an individual and the impact you want to make on the world (or your local area) through this endeavor. Clearly defined company and project goals are required to successfully translate the story of your brand to the public. As a designer, I want to know as much as possible before any sketching or designing actually begins. Knowing the goal(s) makes it easier to come up with a brand strategy — visually and otherwise.
Design Brief and Proposal
Based on the questionnaire and our follow-up discussion, I will put together a contract that will include the design goals, pricing, and policies. The question of “How much” is reserved for this stage because an estimate can not be made without the project goals and needs being clearly defined and agreed upon. I personally don’t have set generic prices I advertise. Every project is given it’s own price estimate based on its particular needs and scope.
Project Start to Finish
Once the proposal is approved and the first deposit (usually 50%) is made then the project will begin. The personal investment made by the client means that there is buy-in from the beginning. It means they value my time. The receipt of the deposit secures their project into my schedule.
After initial sketching and digitization and refining, we will go through rounds of necessary revisions until we achieve the optimal solution. We are teammates in this endeavor. Once we have agreed on the final design(s), the remaining balance will be due. Once final payment is received, all necessary files will be turned over to the client for use.
Create your own process. Discover what works best for you. There is a confidence that comes with having one mapped out. With practice, you’ll know when to deviate and/or re-evaluate. However, the clarity of process will do you good.
Before any contract is signed, any design program is opened, any dollar sign is seen, a conversation must take place between a designer/design firm and the potential client. You must have a love of these deep conversations because they are where relationships are established and much is learned.
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