Your small business relies on a professional and consistent look and feel. But how do you achieve this when you don’t have the resources to have an in-house marketing design team? Print design, Web design and advertising copy – all of this can be quite complicated. Outsourced designers are a great way to bring in design expertise when you need it… but managing creative professionals has its own set of unique challenges.
Here are 5 tips for working with outside designers:
1) Provide context.
Help your designer understand what your business does. Explain the goal that you are trying to accomplish with the design work. Realize that the designer does not have the same view into your business that you do. By providing context around what it is that you do and what you are trying to accomplish, you not only help the designer create better work but also help focus his or her creativity on the problem at hand.
2) Use a style guide.
It is smart to have a style guide created so that all of your collateral materials will be consistent and professional looking. A style guide is a set of standards for design of your company’s materials/documents/manuals. For a small business, a simple style guide should have the preferred primary typeface/headline/header font and secondary typeface/body text font, primary and secondary colors and general rules for on-page spacing. The goal of the style guide is that if someone sees your company’s mailing and then visits your website, they should naturally understand that they’ve come to the same company’s home page.
3) Use examples.
Provide examples of both designs you like and designs you do not. A good set of examples is a great starting point for your designer. You should not only have examples, but have specific reasons why you like or dislike them. Opinions/reasons will help the designer focus on using the elements that you like best and keep him or her from wasting time recreating elements you didn’t consider important.
4) Sketch and scan.
Another great way to share your ideas with the designer is to sketch the design on a piece of paper and scan it to share it with the designer. The goal is not to pretend to be Michelangelo, but instead to get your basic layout ideas across. Do not spend a lot of time with this, but instead just scratch out something as a jumping-off point from which the designer can begin to create something appropriate for your needs.
5) Keep in touch.
Have a regular schedule for when you and the designer will check in with each other. You’ll want to update the designer on any changes that might impact the design and promptly provide feedback to them as needed. Prompt and decisive feedback is crucial to a good relationship with a designer.
Bonus tip: Give constructive criticism.
Do not be afraid to provide criticism. The designer cannot read your mind, so you need to be honest when you do not like something. You should not feel bad delivering negative news if you can do so promptly and in a positive manner! Be polite as you state the negatives, but make sure you do state them – otherwise it will be close to impossible to get the design you want for your business.
Have you used outside designers? What have you learned from working with them? Any tips to share with the Small Business Trends audience?