The Business Owner’s Guide To Working with Creatives: 10 Crucial Tips – GUEST POST

If you’re a business owner, it can be difficult to seamlessly work with designers or graphic artists. And let’s not forget, this likewise can be difficult for the creatives as well. There is simply a misunderstanding, a different way of thinking. Well, in fact, it is a different way of thinking: right brain vs. left brain.

Think of it this way:

If you’re building a new house, you can either do this with an architect or without one. Perhaps you are a skilled architect yourself, but if you’re not…you’re probably going to have a pretty hard time leading the design of your house and instructing the builders yourself.

The same is true for designing a digital product or marketing campaign. Unless you specialize in working directly with creatives and know how to direct this specific type of project (like an architect), you’re going to hit more than a few road bumps.

Are you qualified to be the architect of your designers? Do you have all the skills and experience to drive the strategy and specifications in order to get the desired end results?

As a business owner, without extensive prior experience working with creatives, we’d guess not. So here are some tips to help the process run smoothly.

1. Realize it’s going to take a lot of work.
Don’t expect this to be a one draft process. In order to get a great end product, it means feedback, meetings, and revisions. If you plan on just having a kickoff meeting and then sitting back and relaxing, don’t expect the design of your dreams.

So if you’re lazy and don’t want to invest in managing this process, hire someone else to do it (heck, hire us!).

2. Know what you want.
Make sure your goals for this design project and for the creative himself are well defined. If you don’t even know what you want, you can’t expect your designer to create it for you. You need to set the strategy and the vision.

3. Set your creative up for success.
In order to set up the creative you’re working with up for success, you need to be clear and provide full context. More precisely, tell them what you want.

It’s important that your designer not be taking orders blindly. They should understand the full scope of the project with it’s purpose and goals and how it fits into your overall business strategy. Without this knowledge, you’re limiting their ability to design the most effective solution.

4. Take responsibility.
If you’re having a problem with a creative you’re working for, 99.9% of the time, it’s at least partly your fault. So before you lash out, make sure to think about the role you played in the issue. More likely than not, it’s the result of a communication (or lack there of) problem based on your different thinking styles.

5. Be specific about timeline and milestones.
Talk about all deliverables and set a clear timeline for each phase, making sure to include space for your requested design changes after each deliverable.

One of the biggest issues we’ve seen business owners run into with creatives is around small design tweaks and changes. Even if all you want to do is try a different font or change a color from red to blue, don’t expect your designer to be able to turn it around immediately. Unless they are a full time employee, remember that they have other clients and likely schedule their days intentionally around set deadlines, so give them a reasonable amount of time to complete any requested changes.

The key here is not to underestimate the value of your creatives time or set unrealistic expectations.

6. Plan in a buffer
Even though you’ve set our a clear timeline, still make sure to plan in a buffer in your timeline. We tend to underestimate how long things will take. It’s just human nature (LINK). So build in a buffer so as not to lead to a stressful project crunch at the end.

7. Give clear and very specific feedback.
This goes back to knowing what you want. You need to know what you want in order to know when you see and and when you don’t see it. Comments like “I don’t like that” or “That’s not doing anything for me” are not helpful at all and won’t help you reach your desired goal.

You need to be able to explain what specifically you don’t like and more importantly why. What do you want the design to accomplish that it is not currently accomplishing? You need to take that time to think through your feedback in detail and to be able to communicate it affectively.

– Be open to feedback

The designer is the expert when it comes to design. You hired them, after all, which seems to indicate that you think they had the skills to get the job done. So be open to their expert feedback. This is a partnership, not a dictatorship.

– Don’t be stubborn.

Don’t hold to your ideas too tightly.

Be willing to try things. If they work, great! If they don’t work, be unwilling to admit you may have been wrong. Quickly adjust, come up with a new idea (with the help of your designer) and move on.

No one is right ALL the time.

– Understand this is an ongoing process

To be successful, it takes hard work always. There is no one and done. There are no shortcuts.

Design is a process. Your site and your designs will evolve over time as your company grows and changes, so don’t stress too much about minor design decisions. If it’s an improvement on what you currently have, then ship it, and then continue improving on it for the next iteration.

These tips should help you work more smoothly with your creatives…but if you don’t have the skills to be your businesses design architect, or simply don’t want to take the time, hire an experienced team to manage the process for you.

Not sure what to look for in an agency? Check out this article.

Looking for someone to lead your design process?

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