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10 1/2 Tips on Getting The Most From Your Designer

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Whether you´re hiring a designer, trying to inspire your own team or struggling to make magic with your existing creative relationships, here are some tips on getting the most from those relationships.

1) What are you trying to say?

The best designs come from a solid understanding of what needs to be said. Design is not just pretty for the sake of being pretty ´ design is communication. Don´t start with color, shape, or style´ start with your message and let the ideas flow.

2) Avoid the ´Amazon syndrome´. Over and over again clients say ´I want to be like Amazon´.

You are not Amazon.
You will not be Amazon. Don´t ask for a site like Amazon (or someone else´s) but in a different color. Take the time to think through your real needs... Your real brand goals, not just a rehash of someone else´s site.

3) Feelings.

Tell your designer what message and feeling you want to convey, and then give them the freedom to convey it in a fresh, new way. Their outside perspective on your project is valuable, and you need to step back long enough to let them do their job.

4) Share the big picture.

Be sure you are sharing the big picture with your design team. If today´s web site is going to blossom into a network of mini-sites, they need to know that up front. This tip will keep your designer happy and save you money in the long run. It will also keep your ´add ons´ from looking like ´add ons´.

5) Cows can´t make milk faster, neither can creatives.

Resist the temptation to cut back on the planning stage of your design projects. It´s an important part of the process. A creative director at Hallmark tells a ditty about the creative process that goes something like this... Just because the farmer stands at the edge of his field, waves his fist and says ´make milk faster´ doesn´t mean it works. The same applies to the creative process. We need to chew our creative cud, lounge in the grass, moo a little. When we´re ready, the milk will come rushing forth, or at least when we give the teat a good pull it´s there to serve.

6) If you don´t have content, you´re not ready to design.

If you have not worked through your sitemap, rough content, site organization, feature list and related exercises you are not ready to design. Site design is fundamentally about communication and without content, a designer has nothing to work from. Resist the urge to rush things until you have truly done your homework.

7) It´s NOT about you.

It´s not about you, your friends or your colleagues. No one cares if you hate drop down menus and your boss loves them. What matters is what your customers think, want and feel. YOUR job is to get that information to your designer so they can do what needs to be done. Comfort yourself with the piles of money you'll make from happy customers.

8) You are entitled to an opinion but you have to back it up.

You are allowed to have a voice in the creative process. It´s a welcome addition to any pro ject, but you must have something meaningful to say. ´I don´t like it´ won´t make your project successful, but ´I don´t like it because _________´ has much more potential.

Don´t just say, ´I don´t like green.´ That says nothing of real value. If you say ´I´m concerned that the color looks depressing and we need cheerful and youthful,´ then you are giving great feedback because you´re talking about message rather than telling them how to design.

9) You only need one decision maker.

No good design was ever created by a committee. The more people who have a voice in the process, the more muddy and diluted it gets. Others will often give conflicting advice, have biases of their own and even ulterior motives. Take input, it can be highly valuable along the way, but YOU decide what the final decisions are. Make a decision and stick to it.

10) Remember that you´re not the designer.

If you were doing the creative work yourself, I bet you could make something yellow, but could you make it feel upbeat and friendly? Probably not ´ that´s what you hire designers for. So think in terms of emotions & feelings. At the initial planning stage, show your designer sites that appeal to you for this project, but dig deeper and figure out why. Resist the temptation to become the designer.

10 1/2) You can´t please everyone.

Bill Cosby said ´I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.´ If you want a sure-fire way to have a boring site with no personality, try and build a site that pleases the whole world.

Go back to #1: Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
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Kimberly CarrollAuthor: Kimberly Carroll, Creative Director

Kimberly is a creative director, information architect and web developer who has driven more than 200 million dollars in online revenue, using her triple threat of business strategy, technology and design. For more fresh, savvy wisdom or to get in touch, head to her blog: