Asking Questions

When hiring a designer for the first time to work with you to create a website, logo, or other design project it can be overwhelming. You may have many questions for the designer. But don’t worry, the more questions the better. A designer should be thorough and seek to understand the needs of your business, service, or organization. Also, the more you learn about the process of the creation of the designs the more at ease you will feel. So bottom line, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the designer isn’t patient enough to answer them that is a sign you need to hire another one.

Providing Guidelines

Very rarely will a designer hear, “I don’t care what you do with the design, just do what you feel like works best.” You have opinions and you want the designer to consider those while designing.  In order to ensure the designer completely understands your needs be sure to provide thorough and achievable guidelines. For instance, a great example of acceptable guidelines is:

“I want a design that reminds me of the Apple branding. I want a very clean design that is modern and isn’t overcrowded. I also like the paypal website with how they have a large image at the top of the page. Their logo is clean and I want something minimal like that.”

When a designer hears that they have a great starting point. They better understand what you want.

An example of a vague and unachievable guideline is:

“I want a website that is mind-blowing and leaves the visitors completely numb with how awesome it is.”

I’ve heard similar requests and I’m left empty. How do I qualify “mind-blowing?” That could mean anything! I generally have the client try to explain their needs in terms I can use to give me a starting point. If you can’t articulate it in a paragraph, make a list of words. Such as:

  • bright colors
  • clean layout
  • minimal
  • modern
  • classy like the New Yorker
  • large fonts
  • big pictures
  • easy to scroll

Descriptors like these will really help your designer understand your needs in a tangible way.

Providing Inspiration

I always ask clients to provide me with inspiration so I can better understand what style and look they are after. This inspiration should act as a springboard and it shouldn’t be expected that the designer is simply going to copy the design. I’ve been asked to copy a design before and I refuse to. A designer should offer custom designs to best fit your needs not simply duplicate the work of another designer. A great resource for searching for inspiration is:

Pinterest: You can search for specific items such as, “Business Card Inspiration” or “Great Website Designs” You can even create a board just for your designer.

Pinterest Boards for Inspiration

Design Inspiration: Search for specific items such as “logos” and “websites” and this site provides great designs to look through.

Design Inspiration Website

Awwwards: Leading website designs to give you plenty of inspiration.

When providing the inspiration tell the designer specific things you like about each piece. Is it the colors, the fonts, the layout? Explain this to the designer to further help them understand your needs.

Giving Thorough Feedback

Most designers will offer three rounds of revisions at no extra charge for a design. For instance, if they send you a logo and it isn’t what you wanted give them thorough feedback as to why you didn’t like it. I’ve had clients send back feedback for the design and say, “I really just don’t like it. It isn’t what I had in mind.” That is a great starting point, but they need to elaborate; give the designer something to work with. Tell them specific things you didn’t like about the design, and if there was something you did like. For instance,”I think the colors are off, I wanted something more pastel and not as bold as you made but I did like the imagery,” or “the font really wasn’t something I was looking for. Maybe something more clean and less busy.” This will help you not to have pay extra for more than three revisions and the designer will have a better idea of what direction to take for the revision.

Another important aspect of giving feedback is to be timely. I have had clients not write back for two weeks with feedback and this grinds the project to a halt. If you have a specific deadline in mind help the designer out by giving fast feedback as they won’t be able to work on the design until they hear back from you. This will prevent the deadline from being pushed back.


A great designer is one who is patient, attentive, and understands most clients have never hired a designer before. They are more than willing to listen to you and to change things around when you are unsatisfied. Through the project it requires both parties to participate and to be attentive. If you follow these tips it will aid you in developing a great working relationship with your designer and to understand when a designer isn’t working out.  Designers are problem solvers and if they cause more problems for you then it may be time to graciously end the relationship and search for someone else to help you.