SEO

How Marketers Can Work More Effectively with Their Designers

Marketers and designers always seem to be butting heads over their projects. But why is this? After all, managers and designers share the same goal: creating a beautiful, useful design, in a timely and budget-friendly manner.

Good collaboration often comes down to understanding designers’ jobs and allowing them to do it fully. So, save yourself the headache of warfare with your designer; follow these guidelines and you’ll soon find that you’re working together as a seamless team because you’ll know when to step in and when to lay low.

Get to Know Your Designer’s Creative Style and Work Practices

Work Practices: Before you even consider the project at hand, think about the personality of your particular designer. Better yet, sit down with your designer and ask him about himself. How does he prefer to report on his progress? What experience does he have with the kind of work you’re asking for?

Building a relationship “off the clock” will allow you to strengthen your communication skills, which will pave the path to successful projects down the road.

Creative Style: Take a look at the designer’s previous work. Does he have a unique illustration style that you’d like to feature? Or is he a design chameleon, with a lot of different options for you to consider? Either way, make sure you’re working with a designer that you trust can produce the kind of work you’re looking for, as this will mean less micromanagement of aesthetic later.

If you’re stuck with a designer who you do not think can produce your marketing vision, bring very specific design examples to the table so the designer knows exactly what style you are looking for.

Give Your Designer Some Credit

Your designer might sometimes make a decision that you won’t immediately understand. Ask him about it rather than just whining. Sure, sometimes your designer will think that font really just looks better, but other times he might have a very strategic reason for using that typeface. For example, if your designer turns down a font that you think looks good, he might cite its difficulty to read or maybe the fact that it isn’t web-safe as the reason for choosing the typeface he did.

Good designers never make decisions purely based on their own feelings or biases. Always ask, as jumping to conclusions can taint the relationship and demean the expertise your designer is bringing to the table.

Share Your Own Expertise, but Don’t Get Carried Away

Not every designer is an expert in marketing best practices, and he’ll be grateful if you give him your insights, like using keyword-rich anchor text or emphasizing calls to action. What your designer will not appreciate is if you let your personal preferences influence your critiques of his work.

Always remember that the designer is catering to your target audience, and if you’re not a part of that audience, your opinions on the matter might not be very relevant. Do your best to apply constructive criticism only to functionality and understandability points—leave the purely “design” decisions to the design team.

Give Your Designer the Information He Needs to Work Effectively

If you give unclear instructions, don’t expect your designer to be able to channel your subconscious. Let your designer know where you are in the decision-making process, and allow him to help you come up with workable solutions. Good communication is the most important means of getting good results.

Check in With Your Designer

Stay on the same page: After you’ve settled on a direction for your project, it’s important to make sure the designer is sticking with your plan. Visual interpretations of abstract concepts are rarely the same for any two people, so there’s a lot of room for error.

But don’t hover: Getting a sense of your designer’s progress is good; peering over his shoulder at all hours is not. After you’ve reached an agreement on how your designer will report on his work, try to stick to that arrangement.

Use Your Imagination

The reason designers fill in unoccupied copy points with lorem ipsum (dummy text) is because they recognize that it’s easy to get distracted by the irrelevant parts of a comp. You forget that you’re not looking at the final product, and start to pick apart things that the designer hasn’t yet worked on.

Of course, it would be nice to see a finished product each time your designer gives you a revision, but that’s a waste of the designer’s time and the company’s money. Focus on the design direction as a whole, and don’t consider minutiae until the very end.

Accept the Fact That You Will Have to Make Compromises

Designers are trained to accomplish as many of your creative goals as possible. But if you have impossible goals, they won’t be able to satisfy you. Remember to respect the importance of design. Your visuals can make or break the success of an entire project. Occasionally, it might be in everyone’s best interest to let design goals trump marketing goals, such in the case where using web-safe fonts is a priority.

If you keep these principles in mind while dealing with your designer, you’ll be amazed by how streamlined your communication process becomes. Good communication and understanding of a designer’s role is all it takes for everyone to stay on the same page and put out his best work.

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Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled. When not connecting with interesting people on the web, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.
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2 thoughts on “How Marketers Can Work More Effectively with Their Designers

  1. Adria, this post rings so true ! It works so well when the designer and SEO expert can respect each others crafts and cooperate to achieve the common goal. We tend to have a really good understanding of the importance of each task that is required. Keeping clear communication during the whole process definitely improves the outcome and prevents the tiresome re-work that can happen when important facets of the SEO phase are incorrectly executed. Your post serves as an important reminder of all of this. Thank you.

  2. Thank you thank you! This post is right on target… “design by committee” will never produce a truly excellent product.