In most micro businesses, you will at some point use a designer to design you something, or a developer to build you something for the web. So it is important that the relationship with your designer/developer is a good one, as the better they work for you, the more effective their work will be – which is obviously better for your marketing.
So here’s 12 Top Tips for Working with a Designer or Developer
ACTION: Next time you instruct a designer/developer, think about these points.
1. Talk to a few and get to know them. All designers aren’t the same, but it is important you really get to know your designer and more importantly they get to know your business, what you are trying to achieve, what your end goal is, and how the work they will do for you fits in with your larger scale plans. So pick wisely, and if possible stay loyal. The more work they do for you, the more they will get to know your business. Likewise, if you don’t have a ‘good’ relationship with your current designer for whatever reason (like in day to day life – some people just don’t click), find another. Prices also vary quite a lot with designers, so talking to a few will give you a good idea. Moreover, if you don’t ‘click’ the work done together won’t be as good as it could be.
2. Ask to see past work. Some designers might have a certain style, others may not, but asking to see past work is always a good idea, as you can gauge if the quality of their work and see if you think they are up to the job of working with you. A good idea may be to ask the designer if they have an example of work they have done for a similar company to yours, or one that was trying to achieve the same look as yours.
3. Listen to their suggestions. Yes you are the customer, and a good design will take on board what you want. However, they are the expert at this, so if you are going to listen to advice – listen to theirs. They will know what works and what doesn’t work from a design point of view. If you don’t listen to their suggestions they may think you don’t appreciate their work or skill, which isn’t great for morale.
4. Take on board marketing expertise. There will be some designers who can make whatever it is you want, however the sign of a really good designer is once that has a bit of marketing knowledge. If your designer can make suggestions based on what has worked (and not worked) in the past, and how you can use their skills to generate business – then make sure you listen to them like you would your accountant. Just make sure you keep them in line with your brand.
5. Ask for a timeframe. Designers will work at different speeds depending on what workload they currently have on. Don’t assume you know how long something will take. The best way to ensure no nasty surprises is to talk about timeframes from the get go.
6. Have room in your deadline. Even with a timeframe in place things can happen that is nobodies fault, so try to avoid tight deadlines, and if you know you are going to need something soon then start planning with plenty of time to spare. Websites can take months to make for example.
7. Don’t expect everything to right first time around. It is unlikely a designer is going to get something perfect the first time around, so be aware of this, and don’t get disheartened or angry. Simply explain what alterations you would like, and why.
8. Ask about alterations. Some designers will give you a set amount of revisions, some will give you an unlimited amount, some will charge by the hour. The point is know how many revisions you are getting for the quote, as what seems ‘cheap’ may be cheap for a reason, especially taking into consideration point 7.
9. A good brief goes a long way. To limit the issues of points 7 and 8, you need to brief your designer in as much detail as possible. Don’t leave anything out. If you have some of your own ideas, share them! If you know the exact colour you want something – tell them! If there is something you like the look of – again share it. You get the idea? The more information a designer has the better. We have worked off scribbles on paper before because the client knew exactly what they wanted. Do take into account point 3 however, but the basic rule is the more information you can give the better.
10. Don’t try to squeeze prices down. Design is a skill, so don’t be rude and try to squeeze every last penny out of a designer. It isn’t good for morale, and it isn’t good for the relationship building we talked about at the start of this article. A lot of designers are one man bands, and may be working at less than minimum wage since the industry is so competitive. A designer that feels appreciated will work harder for you, go the extra mile and ultimately give you better results.
11. Pay on time. Following on from point 10, simply paying on time (or before the invoice due date) will always go down well with a designer. If a designer has to chase you for payment, you are basically saying you don’t appreciate their work. See our article on
12. Keep good communication and be thankful. Good communication is important here, so try not to leave your designer waiting for a reply for too long. It messes with timescales and causes issues in the long run. Also – remember your manners. Be thankful to your designer, let them know you appreciate their hard work for you and if they go out of their way to help, reward them.
If you follow these 12 rules of working with a designer you should definitely see your relationship with them improve and the standard of work they produce for you go up!