The 10 Commandments of Graphic Design

My hope is that this list will help save You and your Designer from:
miscommunication, stress, hassle, and overtime.

“It costs so much ’cause it take me frickin’ hours.”

1. Research your Project: Look up some of the elements that your project may entail. Pull some images together yourself and have some ideas ready for your Designer. Even though it is up to the Designer to “Flesh Out” or create your design, they can’t read your mind. Saying, “No, that’s not it,” won’t get you there. On the other hand, “Hey…there…that little bit there, I like that. Can you build on that?” will point them in the right direction.

2. Research your Designer: Do phone interviews, or meet them in person. Look at their portfolio. If you don’t like what you see, don’t expect them to be able to produce the finished project you’re looking for. Ask them questions like, “What programs do you use?” You may not understand the answer fully, but the tools a Designer uses can tell you a great deal about how serious they are about their work. Adobe is a family of design software (CS or CC) that is the gold standard for most Designers. Though there is other good software out there, if they’re using Microsoft Office with Publisher…well…see #7.

3. Once you find a Designer: Be up front about your project. Don’t use phrases like “It’s just a simple project”. Tell the Designer everything you can think of that will go into this project, so they can quote your job accurately and give you a timeline for completion that is reasonable. If you approach the Designer from an “Oh, wait! I need this too.” attitude, your project will take longer and cost more.

4. Make an Agreement: If your Designer does not have a Flat Rate for your particular project, try to get a price range from them. Have a budget in mind (as cheap as possible is not a budget). Let them know what you’re willing to pay. If you tell them first, most Designers will take that into consideration and try to work within your price range.

5. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t like it”: Don’t take a project you don’t like. If you don’t like where your Designer is going with your project, be pro-active and let them know. It’s easier to adjust a design in the beginning than rework the entire thing at the end. You’ll save headaches and money, and you’ll be happier with your finished product.

6. If it’s not Working, Walk Away: Every Designer has a style. The Designer should know fairly early on whether they’re getting it or not, and you’ll know by the comps they provide. If you don’t like anything, let them know you’re going to go a different way. You may have to pay a little bit to cover the initial costs, but it’s better than ending up with a project you don’t like.

7. You Get what You Pay for: If the cost of a project is the most important thing, you may have to adjust your expectations of what your Designer will finally produce for you. An inexpensive Designer might still be able to give you what you want, if you can work within their particular limitations. Use the same approach with your printer. If the printer you choose is based on cost, listen carefully to what they can offer you, and make sure you tell your Designer what the printer’s needs are before you start your project. You may even want to put them in touch with each other. You’ll get closer to the finished project that you want and save money.

8. Adjust your Ideas Accordingly: You know what you want, you’ve seen it somewhere, you’re not quite sure where, but you know “that design is not it at all”. It is good to know what you want, but unless you’re willing to do the leg work first and bring examples to your Designer, don’t expect them to hit the nail on the head for you. If you let them run with your ideas, they may be able to come up with something you love that you had never considered before.

9. Expect to Pay: When you’re starting a project with a new Designer, ask them if they have Flat Rate Projects or if they are Hourly only. If they are Hourly, get an estimate of the time they think it will take them. Look at other project’s they’ve done that are similar to yours and ask how long those took. If you’ve settled on a price beforehand, have that money, or the balance of the total, ready when the project is done. “I’ll get it to you” is never something Designers want to hear. Don’t let your Designer give you an invoice that is hundreds of dollars more than what you originally agreed upon either. If the price is going to change because of unforeseen additions or changes to the project, the Designer must let you know before, so you can decide whether you want to incur those additional fees.

10. You want your Files: You are paying for the Designer’s Time to complete your project not necessarily the files created to complete your design. Many Designers look at their Template Files as proprietary. Let your Designer know beforehand that you want a disc with all your files before you start the project. There will probably be an additional buyout fee for this. Learn more about this clicking HERE.

The Golden Rule

AN INABILITY TO PLAN ON YOUR PART, DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO AN EMERGENCY ON OUR PART Everyone wants their project today, that’s a given. You may not even realize you need a Designer until it’s too late. Have a reasonable schedule in mind, and remember that designing takes time. Computers aren’t magic, and we’re not living in Star Trek®. You can’t just say, “Computer, create my project”. Plan accordingly, listen to your Designer, they’ll be able to tell you what their capabilities are.

This page contains the basic information you need to find, retain, work with and finally pay your Designer, while keeping a good working relationship.