Well first of all, congratulations! You’ve made a smart decision about hiring a professional graphic designer. So many business owners try to cut corners and costs by doing their own logo, website and marketing materials. Some hire students or simply look for the cheapest bid. True, they may save money upfront – but at what cost? Doing it themselves is timely and likely a frustrating process if not well-versed in design and computer software. Time is money, right? A professional graphic designer will get the job done quickly and correctly the first time. Doing it yourself, having a youth or inexperienced designer do your design could result in a poorly designed and ineffective piece. Consider this, would you let just anybody cut and style your hair? The same care and attention should be applied to your brand. Your logo and brand is a reflection of your company, its credibility and professionalism. Anyway, I digress. Luckily for you, you’ve made the smart decision and have hired a professional graphic designer! So, back to the point of this article – what happens next? To help you get off to the best start with your design project I’ve compiled a list of steps to follow that will for sure help you navigate through the process smoothly.
Step 1: Prepare yourself and set goals
With any designer, the more you can prepare yourself ahead of time, the smoother the process will go.
Your designer will ask many questions in the initial meeting. Be prepared ahead of time and ask yourself this:
• What do I want to achieve in this communication?
• What message do I want to get across?
• Who is my target audience?
• If it is a piece to be printed, how will it be distributed? (mailings, handouts, etc.)
• What is my budget?
• When do I need the project complete?
Step 2: Gather samples
Designers are visual thinkers. It is always a good idea to gather samples of other materials you like and even samples you DON’T like. This will help your designer know what style you have in mind. The more prepared you are in knowing what you like and don’t like will help your designer in getting close to what you’d like right from the beginning (saving you time and money).
Step 3: Prepare copy and images
If you’re not planning on hiring a copy writer, you will be expected to prepare and supply the text for your communication piece yourself. Your designer works most efficiently if the text you supply is in a digital format (ie. Word document – no hand-written copy please!) Unformatted is preferred – you can leave that part up to the designer. And to avoid multiple rounds of revisions delays and added cost, it is best to make sure your text is complete and as final when given to your designer.
Images and graphics for print communications should be supplied in their native file format (.tiff, .ai, .eps). JPG images are also more commonly accepted for print if high enough resolution (300dpi). What is high resolution (300dpi)? Click here to find out.Images pulled off of the internet are not high resolution and may be subject to copyright, so be cautious when gathering your materials.
Images that will be used in digital/web publications can be low resolution (72dpi). When in doubt, ask the designer before sending over files.
Step 4: Meet with your designer
Have your goals, text, and samples ready for your meeting. You and your designer can get a feel for what you want. After your meeting, he or she can take it from there to come up with a rough design, from which to begin.
It is best to work backwards when determining a schedule and deadline. Here is an example projecting out how long a project might take:
• delivery = 1 – 3 days
• printing (if needed with your job) = 7 – 10 business days
• proofing = variable
• design = 3 – 10 business days (dependent on the project and your designer’s workload)
• writing = variable
The more people involved in the project, the more time you should allow for approval (ex: if you share a studio with a partner). Again, remember to allow extra time to proofread the project before it goes to print! Have a co-worker, friend or family member look it over in addition to yourself.
Step 5: Final rendering
After the designer presents you with the initial design(s), you note the changes you would like and the production phase begins. You and your designer work together until you have the piece you are happy with. It is more efficient to make all changes in batches versus a bunch of little changes (in other words, a list of changes is preferred versus email after email with a change here, a change there, etc.). You can print out what they have sent you and you can jot some notes down on it, scan it and email it to them; or, you can email them a simple list of what you’d like to see changed (ex: “Please try a script font instead of the one here.” “I’d like to see the text in a different color – how about a purple?” “It looks too busy, can we simplify this somehow?”) It is important to make sure to tell them how you feel about it. We’d rather keep working on your project and get it to where you LOVE it than just getting it done.
Step 6: Printing
Once everyone has reviewed the proof (the final piece), it’s time to print. Your designer can help you estimate the cost of printing. It is usually best to let your professional handle the printing of your job, as he or she can make sure all the files are prepped correctly for the printer and that colors are correct.
In conclusion, we hope this has helped and we’d love to hear your comments on what YOU have found helpful in working with a designer (for those of you who already have).