The process of successful graphic design is composed of two factors. On one hand we have the designer working in order to make the client happy. On the other hand, we have the client cooperating with the designer in order to make the client happy. When both parties can work together beautiful things can be created. A designer is dependent on you as a client. You give them your ideas and they merge them with theirs in order to make you happy. As a client, one has to make an effort to work with the designer, trust the designer and allow the designer creative freedom so that a successful product may be made.
Indeed, it is human nature to follow our instincts. This natural behaviour pervades our intellect and is so intrinsically intertwined with it that we don’t even realise that it is happening. With this being said, and both clients and designers are guilty of this, we as human beings often find it hard to work in a mutual partnership since we are often drawn out of our comfort zones. Designers sometimes want to put all of their wonderful ideas to work for the sake of seeing their ideas materialize and may design way outside of a client’s vision while clients sometimes want to use a designer’s expertise in a puppet-like manner in order to have their raw ideas simply produced by the designer with no input from the designer. Creation is not a black and white process. If a good balance isn’t struck then it can turn into a very frustrating process for both parties.
As a client, one should make a conscientious effort to clearly articulate to a designer what one wants and needs. Making sure to identify and prioritise your wants and needs helps give the designer a better image in order to create. The clearer of an idea a designer receives, the better the designer may design in order to make you happy. Explaining things such as who the intended target market is, the way the industry works or just your overall goal can help give designers invaluable insight and will be the root of an immaculate creation.
Inevitably, you will end up out of your comfort zone. As a client you should be able to trust the designer. You wouldn’t entrust your health to a doctor whom you didn’t trust. Why should you entrust your goals to a designer whom you don’t trust? If the designer’s portfolio or ideas aren’t to your taste then the most efficient option is to find a designer whose portfolio or ideas are. Chances are the designer spent years of their life, tremendous amounts of money and an innumerable amount of sleepless nights doing research of the creative industry and its latest trends whether in school or otherwise, completing courses and mastering the tools of their trade that brought him/her to the point at which he/she is. All of that time and energy is not spent for naught. All of it actually serves a direct purpose: to make the designer more competitive and a better designer. Taking all of this into consideration, clients, please trust the designer that you choose. Chances are they know what they are talking about when they give their perspective on a design related issue.
Allowing your designer creative freedom can go a lot further than you might expect. Many designers often feel stifled by their clients trying to control everything about the design process. And many clients often do this unintentionally. However, innovation and creativity are not found through formulas. Allowing your designer to think outside of the box and function the way he/she has found to be best will help them achieve the best result for you. For example, the legendary Apple Inc. television advertisement known as “1984” which is known to be a game changer for Apple was not approved by the company’s board members. However, the creative intellects of the company, such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, saw the genius of the ad and caused it to run on air. Now, love them or hate them, where would the world be without Apple today? There’s a reason the most successful companies spend billions in marketing costs. And they were once small companies too. Creative freedom involves a certain level of risk-taking. However, you might find that it may be worth it.
As a side note, and this only applies to a minuscule fraction of clients, trying to get your designer to work for you for free/too low of a wage is inexcusably wrong. A designer practises their profession for a living. Trying to get your designer to work for free is unequivocally telling them that you don’t want them or their families to live. There’s nothing wrong with being a good business person and trying to negotiate a better price, all in fair practice. However, making a designer do work for you and not paying them, underpaying them, or belittling them because you think their practice is “important” or “so easy” is intolerably wrong. They can’t go to the grocery store or pay for their children’s education with favours.
With that being said, working with designers can be a wonderful experience. It has the potential to produce such fruit you might not even believe. Designers have the ability to make you as a client extremely happy and successful. Effective and efficient communication is a key factor in accelerating that path. As long as clients and designers can find a beautiful equilibrium the world will see some marvelous creations.