9 Things you should know about designers

As designers we understand our profession unlike any other. But clients might see the role of a designer quite differently. This may result in strange requests, misunderstanding and the occasional frustrations (on both sides). So that’s why I created this little faq, all in good spirits of course.

Are designers magicians?

No! Designers are not magicians although some people might think we are. Being regarded a magician is as well a compliment but also a curse. People without design knowledge may unintentionally underestimate the role and work of a designer. And because of that undervalue the work, making them not wanting to pay moneys worth. After all…

It’s all about moving around some boxes and making things pretty, right?

It’s not. The role of a designer is much more comprehensive than making things pretty. Actually, it isn’t even about making things pretty at all. It’s about making things work. Designers take on complex issues and try to deliver an appealing and simple concept that is easy to understand and contributes to the achievement of previously set goals.

How about taste and being unique?

Taste has almost nothing to do with design. This is one of the most notorious misconceptions. Personal taste does not lead to a better design. A designer has to make design choices based on research and design principles, not based on his own or the clients personal taste.

We’ve already finished the design, can you just build it?

That’s awesome but please don’t hire a designer at that stage. Every self respecting designer has his work ethic and will never thoughtlessly carry out the work of non designer people without a critical eye.

This critique often leads to misunderstandings, disappointment and even frustrations on both sides. Just tell the designer what you want to achieve and leave the designing to the designer.

Aren’t designers just people who are good in Photoshop and Indesign?

No! A lot of designers may work with Photoshop and or Indesign as part of their instrumentarium, but the ability to use these tools do not define the role of a designer.

Being able to cook a meal doesn’t make you a chef. Being good at soccer doesn’t make you a professional soccer player. But for some reason people tend to think that when you are able to use Photoshop, Indesign or Illustrator and such, you can call yourself a designer.

Are you saying that design isn’t easy?

Exactly! A design process is a time consuming matter and can be really complex. Design concepts don’t pop out of the designers head just like that. People tend to think that a lot.

Besides having knowledge of design principles, designers need to carry out research regarding what would work best. It’s about effective story telling and delivering a flawless experience. So it’s not just moving around some boxes and images and done in a few clicks. Not by far.

So how much do I have to pay for a design?

That really depends on the project scope, the goals and the amount of hours that can and need to be spent on it. The bigger the budget, the more resources that can be applied to the project. Meaning a design team and billable hours.

the speed-challenge
[source: brandwebbing.com]

What do you mean by a design team?

By a design team I mean a team of people with expertise that matches the assignment. For digital products like an app or a website this often includes a marketing / communications expert, a content strategist, an illustrator, a UI/UX designer, a front end developer, a copywriter, a photographer etcetera.

We are on a budget. Can we ask our own personell design feedback?

You can, but be careful with that. There is this danger that the project will turn into a design by committee.

Everyone wants to have a say and see his specific idea back into the final design. This results in a camel, a horse designed by a committee. Don’t let that happen. Let your team focus on the project goals instead. Again…

Leave the designing to the designer or don’t hire one.