Monday, March 2, 2015

Working with a designer

As a multi-media artist and designer I put together a series of tips in order to address some of the most common issues that come up when making and creating promotional materials for an event, organization, business or service from the perspective of a designer. 

These little tidbits are part of a series:

How to work with a designer!

When you’re working with a designer it’s important to let them know what you want.
“I would like a brochure/ flyer or poster for my business”. If you’re not sure, tell them you’re not sure but at least let them know WHY you want it. “I want a _____ I can hand out so customers know what I offer/ provide and how or where to find me”. Or “I want something I can put up on facebook to make a fb event.”
Most times, a designer will provide you with their recommendations and let you know what they need from you, *how long it will take them and the cost.
*How long it will take a designer actually depends on YOU and whether or not you have all the information they need. Which brings me to…

About 90% of people will ask me to design websites or lay-out their posters and booklets BUT have no content for me to put on it. They don’t understand if I don’t have the images and text I need I can’t do anything! Let me stress this very important point again! If YOU don’t give me the images and text I need I can’t do anything! I can’t just “do what I do” no matter how much you “trust my judgment”… if I have absolutely nothing to put on whatever it is you want me to design. 

You would not go to a restaurant and expect the chef to know what you want and if someone asked you what you wanted your answer would never be “Just do whatever it is you do & I will love it I’m sure”  So I have no idea why you would answer your designer in the same manner. The chef needs to know what you want in order to provide it for you and a designer needs to have content, YOUR content, in order to provide you with whatever it is you’re asking for.

I know it sounds silly but being a magic, mind reading prophet became part of my job description. It’s true, ask any designer. We are expected to know what goes on your event poster without being told. We’re supposed to be able to look into your mind and find out who, what, when, where, why and for how much or we’re expected to look into the future and see what’s happening, when and where or we’re expected to perform magic and just make the content appear from nowhere. But it doesn’t work that way. Every delay in any project I have been involved in has always been a result of NOT having or not being given appropriate content!
So, if you don’t know what content we need here’s my little formula. Content should include:
a.     TEXT!
Text that answers the w5 (who, what, when, where, why) of what you want to market. Who are you? What are you doing? When is it happening? When are you open? Where can I find your products or services? Why do I need this? And how much is it going to cost me or how can I find out more information?
b.     Images/graphics you have the rights to reproduce and/ or print.
I do not like it when people steal… ehem… “borrow” and “use without my permission” something of my design with the intent to reproduce not for the original audience or in the manner of my choosing, so please do not ask me to do that to someone else. If you don’t have photos, take some. Use your smart phone if you have to just make sure the picture is clear and not blurry. We can edit and crop.
c.     Text should be proof read and edited PRIOR to handing it over to the designer. Unless you notify us before-hand, most designers will not know your content has not been edited and has spelling mistakes. In fact on most occasions we don’t even read what we’re given until the very end at final job… PRINTING. Why? Because our job is to LAY-OUT and design the text and images/ graphics you gave us in a way that’s appealing to a certain audience. We’re checking out balance, flow, color theory, typography, appeal, visibility and asking ourselves: does this stand out? Would it catch my attention? Where do my eyes go when I first see this? Then where? We’re comparing it to other materials we’ve designed or what others have designed for the same audience.
d.     Please understand, not having this, will result in delays in the final product!
Not having this to your designer in the beginning of the project or upon request by your designer is not a reflection of their abilities as a designer but in yours as a project manager. If you tell us you’ve noticed errors in the text and are editing the text, we stop production. Why? Because the simplest changes sometimes have the most impact on our designs. Changing 20 words to 5… makes a huge difference in the lay-out. The bigger the changes to your edits… the longer it’s going to take, because in most cases it’s not a simple copy and paste or drag and drop.
e.     Be realistic & consistent with the final product.
The smaller the final product the less content you should have and vice versa.
I was once given about 3-4 paragraphs of text and 1 logo and asked to make a 5 page website and I have a designer friend who was given 11 pages on 8.5 x 11 paper, double sided and asked to put it on a single panel CD cover. Like WTF? Seriously people? But guess what! We did! How? we’re magic and that’s part of our job description now-a-days! 
f.      Include ADDRESS & CITY for any materials that are going to be distributed online!! One of my biggest pet peeves is when a poster on facebook says “Event starts at 7 pm at Building X” as if I am supposed to just KNOW where that is. Is it in my city? Or even my province? The poster may be on an event page somewhere, but when a friend of a friend of the husband of the original post has only shared the event poster and not the event… how am I supposed to JUST KNOW?  If I have to go out of my way to find out more information for your event unless its something I really want to see or go to… you already lost me as a customer.
g.     Include all relevant information in your content.
It wastes my time if I have to stop designing to look up or find/ create content you probably have and should have given me.
If you receive an email from us, please respond in a timely manner. Enough said!

3.     Review the draft and suggest your edits in a timely manner.
We understand you’re busy and you have other things to do but do you understand I do too? If you want this project finished and ready to send to the printers Friday so you can have it by Monday’s morning meeting and we send you the first draft Tuesday don’t message me any time after 3 pm on Friday IN A FENZY expecting me to drop everything to meet your deadline that we could have met, had you just reviewed it when I originally sent it to you! You don’t want to work weekends? Guess what! Neither do i! Especially if I met my deadline and haven’t heard from you in regards to the edits. When you ask me to “change this one little thing” it’s going to take me a lot longer than 2 minutes. I am a professional. I have to once again review the layout of said changes, in the same manner mentioned in paragraph 2 c.

4.     Get a second person to review the final draft
Have someone else look at it. Both you and I have looked at it to death, a fresh set of eyes will notice something we haven’t, guaranteed!

5.     Acknowledge your designer when and where appropriate
There’s no harm in showing some appreciation to the people whose business it is to make your business look good.  So if you’re going to post your final product on social media, be sure to “tag” and/ or acknowledge those who helped you- including a photographer or graphics designer and if you are on linked in… “endorse” their skills and “recommend” their services.