Getting what you need from a designer

By Angela Bensemann, Director Halo Communications

Have you ever sat down, briefed a designer and ended up with something not remotely like what you wanted, or thought you were paying for the full service including printing only to find out you were just getting high-level concepts or visuals?

I’ve been dealing with designers for years and after a few rookie mistakes myself there are a few things you need to know and look out for.

  • Not all designers are created equal. It’s a bit like choosing a hairdresser that gets you. You need to be on the same wavelength. Just like a hairdresser, you can go to the flash city salon or you might prefer the local stylist working from home. Ask around and find the right company to suit your style and budget.
  • Designers talk a different language. You might think you’re talking about the same thing but double check. Spend time nailing your design brief and make sure you get a clear list back of what is going to be delivered.  A visual or a concept is not a finished product that you can send off to get printed.
  • Initial ideas: The designer will probably ask questions to tease out what would be the appropriate look, feel, approach and might come up with a rough sketch to test if you’re both on the same wavelength. They may show you a Pinterest board or some examples of other related designs. If you have any examples that you particularly like or hate, now is the time to show these.
  • Concept: This often involves two or three concepts for the project showing how the design could work across different mediums e.g. business card, website, brochure etc. You’ll be expected to choose one to be developed further.
  • Design: once you’ve agreed the concept the design is finalised and rolled out across the mediums you require. You will need to formally signoff the completed designs so make sure you check carefully and have a second pair of eyes take a look.
  • Artwork: is the final print/online ready version of the design. If something hasn’t been artworked correctly bits can fall off of file corruptions can happen in the final stages of printing.
  • Print ready PDF: all the artwork has been completed and the PDF is the final version ready for printing.
  • Brand guidelines are the guide for how your brand/logo should be applied. This includes sizes, colours, placement on the page etc etc.

The biggest mistake I see most often is when a designer sends the client through the final design for signoff and the client thinks they can use that version and send it off to the printer.  Generally, this is a low-resolution version that still needs to be artworked before it can be sent off for printing.  If you send off the low-resolution version you won’t get the best quality, photos may be blurry and file corruptions can easily happen.

Good designers are like gold. When you find a good one stick with them, build a relationship and enjoy a seamless merge between your ideas and the final creation served up by your designer.