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10 Tips: How best to work with your graphic designer

PLAN_AHEAIt’s important to know how to work with a graphic designer within an agency to reap the full benefits of the creative mind you have at your fingertips.

I have put together 10 tips which will help your creative help you to deliver the exact product that you want—the perfect picture that isn’t just pretty, but serves a purpose, communicates a clear message, sells an idea, and reaches a target audience.


1) What you may think is “quick” or “easy” is not always

It’s “easy” to use terms like “throw this together” and “simple” when referring to a specific round of edits/revisions and a turnaround for a project, but you may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place for that to happen.

Finished logos, brochures, or booklets may look simple, clean, and straightforward as finished products, but they took more than just two to three hours to create. Keep in mind all of the creative brainstorming, sketching, drafts, revisions, and more that were required. Good designers are equipped with the talent and skills to work quickly and efficiently, but not lightning fast, 100 percent of the time.

Take these thoughts into consideration the next time you’re thinking of putting together a budget and timeline for a project. Most people know that it requires significant time and effort to turn nothing into something—and anything worth doing is worth doing right. The same applies to graphic design.

2) Think about the message and audience

What is your vision for your piece? You don’t have to picture it perfectly in your mind, but do have a general sense for what you like (or don’t like).
Think about colours, available logos, basic layout, a page count, document size, the use of infographics, pullout info or quotes, and the messaging that you will be trying to communicate.

3) Existing branding and imagery

Do you have an existing set of brand guidelines or anything which you wish to adhere to?
Do you have a high res version of your logo which can be used or does this need to be remade?
Do you have high res photographs or images to use or do these need to be purchased? Do you have full copyright to use these?

5) Avoid terms such as “surprise me”

4) Remember that less is always more

No matter how great your content is written or the terrific meaning behind it all, nobody is going to endure an entire page of nothing but words.
Everyone is drawn to visuals, colours, and pretty pictures—so consider the use and placement of these, as well as call-to-action items, to break up your copy.
You want to engage an audience immediately and keep them there, not make them run away. Remember, white space is a good thing.


During brainstorms and pre-design conversations, it’s common for a designer to hear these words, but not gain anything useful from them. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, but try to be somewhat specific and organised with your general thoughts and ideas.

Do you want your piece to resemble something else you’ve seen or done? A designer loves to have “creative freedom,” but he or she also needs a few limitations, or at least what the client doesn’t want. They may seem like little things, but let the designer know colours you hate, types of photos to avoid, or fonts that you don’t like. This will help the designer in a few small ways, which will result in less wasted time later.

6) Give the designer updates in ONE email/call

Basic design and copy edits are a given with any design job and a couple extra rounds of revisions are normal and expected, but try to limit it to no more than two to three. Also, try to collect and send revisions in one email, or discuss during one phone call. Avoid sending John’s revisions separately from Jane’s, not to mention the other three people’s changes involved in the reviewing and approval process – this will only delay the designer and the odd one may be lost in the inbox overload.

7) Understand image resolution

Having some basic knowledge about low and high resolution photo use will help you understand what a designer has to take into consideration, sometimes before even starting work on a project.

Try to avoid grabbing a logo or photo off of a company or organization’s website. Images pulled from the Web are low-resolution and do not reproduce well on printed pieces. They may be OK to use in a digital piece, like an HTML newsletter, but not in a print product.

8) Trust your designer

Most of the time, a designer has a good reason for doing something. Maybe you never considered the effects that certain typefaces, colours, space and photos have and the way they all work together in design, but they’re the basic ingredients that a designer cooks with every day.

Put trust in the designer and give that person creative freedom—but don’t send the designer into battle unarmed and unprepared. Communicating your basic ideas, visions, and target audience, and giving him or her a few references will benefit both of you.

Understanding and respecting what a designer does, the time and effort that goes into what they do, and speaking (just a little bit of) of his or her language will result in a better quality end product, which will only make both of you happy.
At the same time though…do not be afraid to give your feedback. I have had clients suggest a change to a design which has made me cringe inside – only to rework it and prefer our combined effort! Joint collaborations between client and designer can make great final designs. One thing I would recommend though – don’t have too many people reviewing the design

9) Set AGREED deadlines

If you have a deadline for a project – let the designer know as soon as possible and check that they are able to do the work within those timescales (especially if printing and delivery also need to be taken into consideration.

10) Clarify the project

Make sure that all of your requirements are provided in a clear brief to the designer.
Then ask the designer for a detailed quote and check that it includes everything you anticipated it would. Be aware that extra proofs and additional work than that outlined in a quotation may be payable.