There’s nothing more dangerous than a designer who just says yes. I say this as a designer, but I do it in the interests of my customers. And not to cast a shadow on some colleagues, because the point is that it can happen to everyone: because there is little time, because there is little mutual trust, or maybe because you have reached the fourth round of feedback, and at some point a designer stops arguing and performs. That’s where disasters often happen.
At this stage, the designer refrains from telling you some important things.
“There’s too much information”
No one starts with the idea of creating an overloaded message. And yet it happens. It happens little by little, adding a last-minute novelty, or a note requested by another department of the company. The result — but the designer won’t tell you — is that you won’t read anything.
Unfortunately, here the ball goes to the customer, who must decide in a reasoned and strategic way what to keep and what to remove.
“You missed the initial concept.”
The concept is something abstract, and as such we sometimes think that it can survive in spirit form to any change. It’s not like that: the concept comes to life through a series of practical choices: the photo and the treatment, the titles, the font, the music for a video, the animations for a site, and so on.
Each modification takes us a little further away from the initial concept, until — like the patched sock of the riddle — we no longer know how much of the original remains. No modification in itself is destructive: it’s their sum that breaks the idea.
This point is particularly insidious for a designer: when to report it? Feedback, after all, is legitimate. Two as well. But after a while, in order to close the project, you are tempted to accept everything. With the result that the final product no longer has anything to do with what was chosen at the beginning. And I assure you, everyone will notice.
“We need to schedule a meeting.”
Often, when projects get tangled up (lengthening times, lots of feedback laps), the best choice is to stop everything, meet and talk about it. This is particularly useful if the project is managed by an intermediate figure of the company, who could create, without knowing it, a distortion of the message.
In these cases, it is useful for the designer to meet the management, who makes the final decisions. But it’s difficult for the designer to ask for this meeting, partly because he’s intimidated, partly because he doesn’t want to override his contact person.
If this seems to be the situation, call the meeting and put everyone at the same table.
“It can’t be done within these days.”
This should be said immediately: estimating the timing of a project is the first task of a designer. There are those who hide the problem to take the job anyway, but much more often this omission stems from excessive security.
By now, the business world loves to define unreal timing as “challenging”, suggesting that, if you want to succeed, you can. A designer with his head on his shoulders, on the other hand, will tell you that every project needs the right time.
You can prioritize it by stopping others, and you can unbundle some parts, but you can’t bend the Universe. The final result will be a sketched project, the impossibility of giving feedback, or even an incomplete project.
Discuss the deadlines in-depth, raise doubts, and don’t be satisfied with the first reassurance.
“This message is not branded.”
If a designer has been working with you for a long time, he knows the language of your brand. Enough to understand if a message respects it or not. And if he doesn’t point out a mistake, it’s because he may feel that you’re already too convinced of the idea or because the deadline is too short.
The advice, even when you have a clear message in mind, is to always ask for the designer’s opinion. You don’t have to listen to him!
“This logo can’t be used.”
In many cases, unsuitable logos are sent to the designer, because they are low resolution, not vectorial, or with a full background. It happens more often on materials that have many, such as posters or pages of a site dedicated to partners. It’s true that asking for and finding logos in an acceptable format can be complicated, but it’s worth it: working with low-quality resources you’ll get a low-quality result, which makes you lose credibility.
An exchange of opinions between designer and customer is healthy and — in my experience — leads to the best results. Seeking it is the responsibility of both parties, in the interest of all.
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