The client-designer relationship can be a breezy ride or a teeth-grinding journey. It all depends on how prepared you are to effectively communicate with your designer. Going in blind is a normal thing for clients to do when first looking for a designer. But starting the design process with a little preparation will go a long way. We’ve marked out 5 tips for communicating with your designer once you’ve found the one. We’ve also included mini checklists along the way to make sure you’re on track. Let’s get into it!
1. Research Your Design Request
When coming to a designer with a request, it’s helpful to have as much information as possible. Starting with an idea like, “I want something flowery and free feeling,” leaves a lot of room for interpretation that might prolong the feedback process. Just because you may not know all the right words, research examples of looks and feels you like. Finding a few examples of what you like in the following categories could be extremely helpful for your designer to get going:
- Color: What kind of color do you want? Warm tones? Bright and contrasted colors? You don’t have to nail down the entire palette, but providing some direction on color can be super helpful.
- Fonts: What fonts are you interested in for this design? We often don’t notice the fonts we consume every day, but with investigation you might find you do actually have a style in mind.
- Feel: How do you want the viewer to feel when engaging with this design? Upbeet and encouraged? Intrigued? Identifying the goal of your design can be helpful information to share with your designer up front.
- Examples: Are there any examples that particularly inspire you? What companies or designs inspire your company? Provide any examples that could help, but understand your designer is there to make something new, not to replicate someone else’s work.
2. Be As Clear as You Can
Clarity in design elements are not the only things that need ironing out. The name of the game in working with a contractor is expectations. Payment schedules, pricing, and amount of creative liberty your designer can take are all things that require clarity. Try to vet all of your designer’s questions up front so the project can start on the right foot.
A few good checklist items before project kick-off are below. Feel free to suggest your own preferences, but be open to how your designer works.
- What is your payment timeline? When do you expect to get paid? Is that in full or at checkpoints?
- How many design revisions are included in this cost?
- What files will I receive upon completion of the project? (Final finals, or final and working files.)
- What platform do you typically use for feedback?
- What is the expected completion date range of the design?
3. Ask Questions When You Have Them
Every craft has a language, and it’s likely that you don’t like the language of designers. That’s okay, but it will require you to ask a few questions. From start to finish, your designer may be asking you for elements you don’t understand, or may send over design proofs you can’t figure out. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have. Fighting for clarity up front will allow for smoother feedback later, and hopefully, an amazing design. Want to brush up on some terms you might encounter when working with designers? Check out this free glossary (with pictures!) from Canva that might help decode some of the designer jargon you’ve encountered. Otherwise, don’t let any question go un-asked!
4. Operate with Empathy
The beauty of a designer is that they are creating a unique piece of art for you. Because you contracted them, your logo, website, brochure, etc. are not from a template anyone could get on the internet. Your design is being created by a real human who is working to give both their skill and creativity to it. This is important to remember when working with all humans, but certainly a designer. A few specific tips to help here:
- If you receive a design you don’t love, don’t forget to deliver feedback with empathy.
- Work to identify where your vision was lost.
- Be open to the idea that you may not have communicated your vision clearly.
To reference point 2, it is important to determine upfront how much creative liberty your designer has. And when they operate in that freedom, be open to what they have to offer. Remember they are the experts.
5. Use the Right Tools
It’s simple — sometimes email cannot convey design feedback well. Design is a visual medium. Yet, most of our tools rely on written feedback. This can be difficult. We suggest exploring new collaboration tools that allow both parties to see a design and leave comments on exactly what they want changed. Keep a pulse on your project and designer. Here are some additional helpful tips.
- Get out of email as much as possible. Email is where feedback goes to die.
- Some projects would benefit from a standing time to connect on the phone or in person.
- Use a tool like Punchlist. It will give clarity to your feedback that isn’t possible in other mediums. Even if you have a standing call, reviewing a project in Punchlist before, during, or after is a great way to save time and share clear, concise feedback.
Most communication snags come from a surprise. Our hope is to help you eliminate those surprises so that both you and your designer feel respected and able to communicate. Clarity is kind. And preparation will help you articulate your vision for your design. Remember to treat your designers with empathy, and we expect you’ll be well on your way to a design that is very “you”.
If you’re looking to improve your feedback, add your next project to Punchlist. It’s free for unlimited projects and collaborators.
How to Set Up Your Team for Success in PunchlistAugust 12, 2022
Trying to dig up Slack threads, endless email chains, or client meeting notes can seriously ruin your productivity as a project manager. Not to mention, this causes delays for your whole team. The old process of wrangling feedback can easily lead to missing a critical change in your next deliverable. How can you simplify the [...]
What's It Like To Build In Webflow? [Video Series]July 20, 2022
What’s it like to build in Webflow? Our friends at Edgar Allan invited us to their “EA Live” series to show you the ropes. In this video walkthrough, their team does a live design & build of the Punchlist.com homepage. Webflow is an online visual editor platform allowing users to create websites without having to [...]
How to Write a Creative Brief That Inspires Your TeamJune 29, 2022
Learning how to write a creative brief might sound tedious, but it’s one of the most important aspects of any creative endeavor. To understand the relationship between a creative brief and finished project, let’s talk structural engineering for a moment. We’re all familiar with Italy’s Tower of Pisa. Did you know that a faulty foundation [...]
Dealing with Difficult Feedback: The Creative's ToolkitMay 20, 2022
Creative teams often have a familial vibe. This is unsurprising, as we often spend more time working together than we do with our loved ones. We toil together, learn together, grow together, and even eat dinner together as we dedicate long hours to major projects, pitches and launches. This family dynamic really manifests itself when [...]
Handling an Unresponsive Client the Right Way (with Email Templates)April 27, 2022
Nothing derails a project quite like hearing crickets from unresponsive clients. We’ve all been there before. You have the kickoff meeting, get all your ducks in a row, send over the first draft for feedback, and…nothing. After what feels like a month-long game of “Where’s Waldo?”, your client finally gets back to you with approval, [...]
How to Avoid Micromanaging Your Creatives Into the GroundApril 22, 2022
Those in creative leadership must understand the dangers of micromanaging if their teams are to thrive. Creativity is delicate. Designers, writers and developers will often come up with a far better solution if given the right challenge to solve or goal to achieve, versus telling them “Do it this exact way.” That’s why we’ve prepared [...]
How to Get Clients Out of the Comfort Zone (and into New Tools & Processes)April 13, 2022
While agencies tend to be early adopters of the latest tools and tech, it’s not always the same for clients. Here are 5 actionable tips to onboard your clients to new software tools and processes, so you can all get on the same page and deliver amazing work. Project managers spend a lot of time [...]
5 Ways to Get Better Design Feedback from Your ClientMarch 25, 2022
Your design team spends various sprints working on a large project for a prominent client, and the most important day arrives — the big unveiling. Presenting the creative work is exciting and fun (and yes, a bit anxiety-inducing). But what follows is actually the most crucial part: the client’s feedback. How do you get productive [...]
What These 15 Web Design Terms Mean – And Don’t MeanMarch 24, 2022
There are few groups who use more jargon than those tackling web design. Design terminology especially causes confusion on cross-disciplinary creative teams and full-service agencies, where not everyone speaks the same language. In order to design great websites, landing pages, product UX, and other digital experiences that are as usable as they are pleasing to [...]
7 Ways to Give & Get Better Creative Feedback [Punchlist Video Features]March 11, 2022
Sometimes it’s all in the ask. How you ask for feedback — whether it’s from a client, teammate, or stakeholder — can make all the difference on the quality of feedback you receive. Creating that ask is something that deserves your time and attention, as it impacts the relationship with the person delivering feedback, the [...]
Client Onboarding: 6 Ways to Create Lasting Client RelationshipsMarch 8, 2022
Client onboarding is a double-edged sword for agencies, studios, and freelancers. While your clients supply the work and pay the bills, they also require back-and-forth email conversations and time-intensive education on your work process that ultimately distract from the best part of your job — being creative. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. [...]
Website Launch Checklist: 13 Actionable StepsOctober 15, 2021
Any website launch is challenging. The beginning of the website building process was exciting. You felt like there you made massive progress every time you went to work on it. But it’s not like that close to the end. It feels like you’re stuck at 95% complete. The structure is there, the design looks good, [...]
Freelance Design Websites for Every ProjectSeptember 16, 2021
The freelance design world is hot with talent waiting for your project — you just have to know where to find it. We’ve marked out 10 platforms with freelance designers available for hire. Each one differs in price, client leg-work and expertise. So, jot out your priorities and see which fits your project best! Fiverr [...]
How to Audit Content Like a Pro in 2021January 27, 2021
Running a content audit can be hard. Knowing how to crush it for your client shouldn’t be. Content audit. There it is again. Creating content is one thing; auditing it is quite another. Regardless if you work for an agency or for yourself, you likely depend on your clients to provide content for you. But [...]
4 Things To Consider When Creating Your New WebsiteJanuary 4, 2021
They say your business website is like your virtual handshake – the first impression you will make on a potential client. With this in mind, it is vital that your website is seamless, easy to maneuver, and on brand. Whether you are building your website yourself, or you’ve reached out to an agency for support, [...]
Top 3 Tips When Providing Project Feedback To Your AgencyDecember 22, 2020
At Punchlist, communication is one of our top values. It’s the entire premise behind what we do! We believe communication lays the foundation for any business, project, or relationship in general. It’s a known fact that communication can get complicated when you don’t have the person right in front of you. We have all misread [...]
Your Pre-Launch Checklist!December 21, 2020
We all know the pressure that comes when it’s finally time to launch a website. With all the complexities, we can often catch ourselves thinking of all the things that could go wrong. No one wants to experience the frustration of grammatical errors or a failed capture form. That’s why we created our Pre-Launch essential [...]
Six Ways To Set Client BoundariesNovember 13, 2020
Just like all relationships, partnerships with clients require boundaries. We all want to strive to go above and beyond for our clients, but it is necessary that the line does not blur into something problematic. We see too often businesses being taken advantage of out of fear of upsetting or losing a client. Setting clear [...]
5 Best Practices When Communicating With ClientsOctober 1, 2020
We’ve all been there – you feel like you are running in circles with a client, and you’re at a loss for how you can better explain your thought process. The constant back and forth can take up tons of time, and create plenty of unnecessary frustration. Some misunderstandings can even lead to losing the [...]