Lawyers and graphic designers: could there be two more different groups of people? Sometimes, it seems like we speak completely different languages. But communicating with your designer doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration. When you build a solid foundation and have a collaborative approach, giving feedback can easily get you the results you want. It always helps to have some insider tips to help get your point across. Here’s how to give feedback to your designer to get great results.
Build a Solid Foundation
First things first, make sure your designer has all the information they need before they start the project. Having a good foundation makes the whole process go much smoother. Try to think of the project from the designer’s point of view: if you were creating something from scratch, what would you need to know? If you’re creating a newspaper ad, make sure to include the dimensions of the ad, whether it’s in colour or black and white, and of course, what information you would like to include, such as a picture of a lawyer, a catchphrase, web address, etc. Better to give too much information than not enough.
Wrong: “Could you create an ad? Thanks.”
Right: “Could you create an ad for the family law campaign we discussed? It will be in Family Law Magazine and will feature Jane Atlaw’s photo and our slogan, “We do great family law.” Include her phone number and our main line. I’ve attached the specifications from the magazine for size and colour.”
Show, Don’t Tell
Designers are visual creatures, so sometimes the best way to get your point across is to literally draw it out or show us what you mean. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a work of art. A simple slide in PowerPoint with some text and shapes is all that’s necessary. Even a doodle on a sticky note can be helpful. Remember, there is no such thing as too much information when it comes to giving your designer something to work with. If you know what you’re going for because you’ve seen it somewhere before (like a website, ad, video, or social media post) go ahead and send it through.
Wrong: “Can you make it come in at an angle from the left and the text half over this and half over that?”
Right: “Can you make it look more like what I’ve sketched? See attached.”
Wrong: “Can you make a social post where it has that effect, you know, like in movies sometimes or videos. But not like that…”
Right: “Can you make a social post with this effect? I’ve attached a couple of examples.”
It can be frustrating to get a design back that looks nothing like what you’ve imagined. But remember that coming to your designer and accusing them of misunderstanding you or getting things wrong will probably not be productive. Instead, treat every design project like a collaboration. You and the designer or design team are working together to create the vision that you have for your project. Whether it’s a social media post or a large website project, having this mindset will always yield great results.
Wrong: “This isn’t what I wanted! It’s all wrong. You have to start over!”
Right: “This is different than what I expected. I see why you made those choices, but I’d like to go in another direction. How about we make these changes…”
Trust the Process
During a project, we sometimes encounter bumps in the road. We suddenly need to remove or add a lawyer from a group photo. Unexpectedly, there needs to be a disclaimer at the bottom of a print ad or a few extra words in a heading for an online banner. When this happens, clients tend to go into problem solving mode and start telling a designer how to make the changes. This is unnecessary because puzzling together content on a layout and coming up with creative solutions is a designer’s specialty. All you have to do is show us the problem and we’ll take care of the rest.
Wrong: “We need to take Jane out of the print ad! But then there’s going to be a huge empty space where she used to be! I think if you move John and Harry to the side and then maybe put some text there? We’ll have to figure out what it will say though…”
Right: “We need to take Jane out of the print ad, so can you come up with a new layout that looks balanced with just John and Harry?”
Give SMART Feedback
Last but not least, we all know the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. This applies to giving a designer feedback, too. Let’s break it down.
Specific: This crucial step is often overlooked. Clients sometimes find it hard to quantify why a design is making them feel a certain way. Take your time and inspect the image carefully. What is it that is concerning you? Is it the imagery, the text, or the colours? If you’re not sure or need some guidance, get on a call with your designer and brainstorm some ideas. Together you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what needs to change and get one step closer to getting the desired result.
Measurable: Feedback that’s specific is also measurable. Adding specific text or changing a photo to a new choice is easily noticeable in the next round of changes, while a vaguer comment like “make it pop” will be harder to measure.
Achievable: Make sure your idea is within the realm of possibility. Does your budget allow for it? Is your designer or design team able to achieve your vision or would you need to hire another specialist like a videographer, photographer, or 3D model artist?
Relevant: Sometimes, clients want their social media campaign, ad campaign, or other design project to “stand out” and “be something different.” But remember that all elements of your brand need to align in order to have a cohesive brand. It’s not a good idea to go outside of your brand style guide with any one campaign.
Time-Based: Always give your designer enough time to complete the updates to your project. Remember that the creative process is just that, a process. Your designer needs time to conceptualise, research, and come up with creative solutions. Doing this in a rush will never produce someone’s best work.
Wrong: “This design makes me feel sad. Can you make it less sad? I need it in the next half hour.”
Right: “This design makes me feel sad. It’s too cold. Could you warm up the colour palette and maybe show me some image options where the model is smiling? Can you get the new version to me by Tuesday?”
Nothing is more endearing than two unlikely friends. When lawyers and law firm marketers collaborate with designers, that’s exactly what they are. Now that you have all the tools to collaborate with a designer, your projects will come out great every time. If you’re looking for great design work from designers that always take feedback well, check out our design services.