The way your digital media looks can have a significant impact on traffic flow and engagement for your website and the content you disseminate around cyberspace. If you don’t have much design knowhow yourself, you might turn to a graphic designer to help you out. Working with a designer can be a rewarding experience that makes you the proud owner of a gorgeous website or infographic. However, both your job and the designer’s job will be easier if you keep a few things in mind during the design process.

Pretty Is Less Important than Practical

You want your content to look nice, but good looks aren’t as important as usefulness. When you’re discussing your needs with your designer, make sure your focus is on function rather than aesthetics. A certain feature you had in mind, like an elaborate graphic or a quirky navigation system, might be cool to you — but, realistically, are users going to see it as a novelty or an annoyance?

Good navigation and well-constructed pages are two of the most important elements of a good website. Discuss those items first before you delve into all the pretty little extras. Similarly, when you commission a designer to create an infographic for you, first think about crafting a presentation that makes the information easy to digest.

Content Should Come First

Don’t embark on the design process unless you have your content ready first. Don’t say to your designer, “Our copy isn’t ready yet, but can you draft a design for us anyway?” It’s much easier for a designer to have the content at their disposal from the beginning; this way, they can create a design that complements the content. The ultimate product will look more polished than if the design came first.

This will also save time, and it could save you money. If you insist on having the design first but then don’t like the way your content fits into it, your designer will have to go back and try to tweak the design. This can be a frustrating and lengthy process for both you and the designer.

Designs Aren’t Something That Can Be Whipped Out in a Jiffy

Image via Flickr by grafikspam

You want a beautiful, custom design for your infographic, website, or other content. You’ve contracted an artist to help you accomplish that. Remember that — graphic designers are artists. You would not ask a painter to paint four different versions of your portrait for you to decide to only pay for the one you like best. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect your designer to create multiple unique designs for the same content unless you’re willing to pay for all of them.

Before the designer gets to work, clearly communicate what you want your product to look like. You can do this through a creative brief that explains your company’s style. What colors do you favor? Are you straightforward or whimsical? Do you want to entertain, inform, or inspire?

You can also give samples of content that appeals to you. You can browse through templates on sites like Canva, or you can simply browse the internet and provide URLs of sites that you think are worthy of imitation. What aspects of the sites do you like? What doesn’t appeal to you?

Think about creating a “swipe file” or “tear sheet.” Both of these terms refer to a collection of things that inspire you, whether they’re images, websites, or magazine clippings. You could even create a mood board your designer can use as reference.

When you have clear ideas from the beginning of what you want to accomplish, you’ll save both yourself and your designer from unnecessary frustration.

You Might Not Know as Much as You Think

You might have gotten top marks in your high school art class, but having an eye for aesthetics doesn’t make you a graphic designer. Designers are professionals who know the nuances of what makes for beautiful, functional web content. Trust your designer’s perspective, and have faith that the end result will turn out satisfactorily. If you try to micromanage the design process, you’ll slow things down and could even sabotage your ultimate success.

However, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t speak up if you’re highly displeased with something. Tactfully explain why you don’t like it, and ask the designer for suggestions on how to bring it up to your expectations.

Designers Can’t Work Magic

Let’s say you have a photograph that is almost perfect for your website. However, it is a little blurry or you want to eliminate that unintentional photobomber in the background who ruins the mood. Sometimes a designer can tweak a photograph to make it look professional enough to fit into their design. However, this can be very time consuming.

For example, removing a person from a photo is a meticulous process. Not only does the designer have to remove the person, but they also have to reconstruct a background that looks natural in the context of the photo. Some other issues with a photograph might be impossible to fix. A blurry photograph won’t look drastically better no matter how much a designer sweats over it. Similarly, if a photo doesn’t have enough pixels and you want it to be enlarged, you might be asking for something that simply isn’t going to happen.

To save time and cut costs, provide your designer with the highest-quality photos and artwork from the beginning. Educate yourself about different file types as well as on the difference between a print quality image and one that looks good on a screen. If you eventually want to create stationary or other items based on what your designer creates, let that be known from the beginning.

Designers can do remarkable things with your ideas, but you should never underestimate the skill and creativity it takes to craft a finished product that fits your purposes. By keeping the foregoing things in mind, you can make your designer’s job easier and hopefully establish a lasting and positive relationship.