Jan 20, 2015

How to Become a Well-Rounded Designer

Gabe Macias

Gabe Macias

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I love meeting people and building relationships. People always ask what I do for a living, and when I mention that I’m an art director/ designer, the horror stories come out. Business owners tell me about the difficulty they had communicating with designers, though deep down they understood the value a good designer brings to their overall vision and marketing strategy. I try to tell people that not all designers are the same.

But let’s face it: Designers have a pretty bad reputation when it comes to professionalism.

As an art director I am constantly looking for designers who love their craft and have a passion for what they do. Designers should be able to creatively solve business challenges for their clients without adding stress to the situation.  I always tell my designers that a client should feel a void when a designer leaves a project because we brought so much value while we were a part of the team. This makes for long-lasting relationships and retainable business that keeps both sides happy.

Below are a few easy steps to take to ensure you are being a professional designer:

Manage Expectations

It is imperative you always understand what the client’s expectations are for a project. Never work on assumptions that can lead you in the wrong direction because you never took the time to understand the picture of success. Always make sure you are laying out what you will be doing for the project with deliverables and timelines in a clear and concise manner. Be transparent with your process and help your client understand all the hard work you are about to put into their project.

Consistent Communication

It is important to communicate, communicate and communicate… and also communicate. Clients are hiring designers to help bring their vision to life, and they always want a progress report. Make sure you never let an email sit in your inbox too long. It is always important to answer your emails the same day or the next day unless you are out of the office. Always speak to clients with clarity about the status of their project instead of talking industry lingo that only causes more confusion. Make your client feel like their project matters more than anything and you are doing everything you can to complete it in a timely fashion.

Hit Your Deadlines

There is not much to say here other than you better not ever, ever, ever miss a deadline. They are set up for a reason and your client is depending on you to hit the target dates agreed upon. When you miss a deadline you are creating mistrust with your client and that can affect future business and taint your relationship. If you are ever going to miss a deadline, which you should never do, make sure you are communicating well in advance that you will be late. Sometimes life happens.

If you follow these simple steps you will see your client list grow and your relationships flourish. I am so tired of hearing horror stories about designers and the chaotic process they bring to a project. Let’s change the stereotype to leading the way with creative problem solving that impacts the bottom line. I am proud to be a designer that holds professionalism at such a high level and I hope to see the shift in the design community as people begin to realize the importance of being a well-rounded designer.

Photo attribution: Thomas Leuthard

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