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Working with a graphic designer

What you need to know about working with a graphic designer

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At some point, you’ll need to work with a graphic designer. There will be something that you need, whether it’s a brochure, advert or logo.

Regardless of how adept you are at designing images, you simply can’t do it all yourself. Good design takes time; time you don’t necessarily have.

In addition, your skills may be enough to design images to use on your website or social media, but what happens when you need something else? That’s when you need to work with an expert. Because bad design puts your brand at risk.

So, what do you need to know about working with a graphic designer? Read on to learn what you have to look out for.

What do graphic designers do?

That’s a great question! They can help you with so many things, but they all have one thing in common. They help you raise awareness of your brand and your business.

Examples of the types of work a graphic designer can help you with are:

  • Logo design
  • Brand guidelines (how to use your colours, logo and so on)
  • Creating images, for example, for your social media covers
  • Brochures about what your business does
  • Adverts

There are so many other things they can do for you, especially if they are particularly creative.

How do you know who to work with?

For me, this one’s easy. Go with someone who has been recommended to you. Think about all the recommendations you’ve had for other things. It’s always because people have had a good experience.

When you choose to work with a graphic designer, you’re putting your brand in someone else’s hands, so you want to make sure they’ll look after it. That’s why I would choose someone that is recommended to me.

That said, there’s a great lady I work with who I met on Instagram. I saw photos of work she had done for other people and the reviews they gave her, so I tried her out for a client project. It was brilliant, and the result was great. In case you’re wondering, the lady is called Bhavini and she owns B81 Designs.

What can you expect to pay?

This really depends on the type of project you want the designer to work on. Most will charge an hourly rate. They will then give you a cost based on how long they think the project will take to complete.

As with anything in life, you get what you pay for, so do be wary of any ‘I-can’t-believe-it’ deals. There’s normally a catch and you won’t see it until it’s too late.

Equally, there are always people out there who see an opportunity to make money. They may overprice the project, offering all sorts of things you really don’t need. Stick to your guns and go with your gut. If it seems to good to be true, it usually is.

How do you get started working with a graphic designer?

The first thing you need to do is give the designer a brief. This means telling him or her the following things:

  • What you want them to design
  • Who your audience is
  • What your goal(s) are for the piece (what you want people to do)
  • Your key message(s) (you only need bullet points here)
  • Types of images you’d like used (the designer will be able to source these)
  • Anything the designer must include (your logo/website)
  • Deadline by which the project must be finished

Once they have this information, they may ask for a meeting to talk it through to make sure they’ve understood everything and for you to answer any questions they might have.

How long will it take to finish my project?

Just because you set a deadline doesn’t mean you will get your project by that time!

If you work with a reputable graphic designer, he or she will tell you how much work is already booked in and manage your expectations. So consider asking whether they are able to meet your deadline. And remember, if you leave it to the last minute, they may say no or charge a premium price!

The other thing you need to consider is how busy you are. Why is this a consideration? Because the designer will send you drafts for your input. The longer you take to provide this, the longer your project will take. So, whilst the designer can manage your expectations, if you don’t respond to their requests for feedback or to clarify things, you will delay it.

Help! I don’t understand designer speak

There are terms that are particular to graphic design that you might not know or understand. That’s OK. Remember, I’m here to demystify marketing for you. So, here are a few of the common terms your designer might use.

Artwork The file they send you of the final design
Copy The text you will provide to use in the project
Crop marks These are horizontal and vertical lines at the edge of a design that will be printed.
High resolution This refers to images that you might provide. Your designer will ask for at least 300 dpi (dots per inch)
Low resolution This is an image that will be on-screen, rather than in printed material.
Palette This is a collection of colours. If you use more than one colour for your brand, this is known as a colour palette.
Proof This is the draft that the graphic designer will send you for checking. Now’s the time to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes and that the copy (text) makes sense.
Royalty-free This usually refers to images, which means you can use them without having to pay for them.
Print-ready artwork If your design will be printed, your graphic designer should give you (or your printer) a print-ready file. This means it will have crop marks on it.
Sans serif typeface This is how the characters look. With a sans serif typeface, there are no small lines projecting from the ends. Much like this.
Serif Here, there are small lines projecting from the end of a letter or symbol, for example in Times New Roman.
Typeface This is the design for letters of the alphabet and other symbols. Sometimes, you’ll hear it referred to as a font.

If a designer uses terms you don’t understand, always ask them to explain. They will take the time!

What if you’re not happy with the final design?

This can happen if you’re in a hurry when briefing the designer. This is the reason why I always write down what I expect the design to be.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t actually put down on paper what I expect it to look like. But I do write down a brief. This means there is no ambiguity about what you’re asking for.

You also have the opportunity to tell the designer you’re not happy with the direction of the design at the time they send you a proof, or draft. These proof stages are put in place to ensure the final design doesn’t come as a surprise to you.

If, having looked at the brief, you’re still not happy, then you need to have the conversation with the designer to work out what went wrong.

Do you get to keep the final design?

As long as you’ve paid the designer, then yes, you the design is yours. The designer should give you final designs and will normally give you the source files, or the editable files, if you request them.

Just be aware that most designers use specialist graphic design software. If you don’t own the particular type he or she uses, then you won’t be able to access the source file. That said, you will be able to share with other designers for them to work on.

However, my advice is if you find a designer you work well with, hold on to them!

So, there you have it. I hope I’ve given you a good idea of the process of working with a graphic designer. Hopefully, you’ll see it’s not as complicated as you might think.

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Also published on Medium.

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