How to Speak Designer: 5 Phrases to Avoid When Speaking With Creatives

How to speak designer: 5 phrases to avoid when speaking with creatives | By Ben Hock at CentertableIn March I wrote about basic graphic design terms that clients should know before speaking with their designer. I’m always impressed by clients who use design terms appropriately, because, more often than not, people use graphic design terms incorrectly, which can lead to projects that go awry. In this follow-up, I’ve compiled a list of phrases that make designers cringe, along with advice on alternatives so your next creative project starts off smoothly.

“We’re looking for something more dynamic”

This a frustrating phrase for any graphic designer to hear because it usually means they’ve missed the mark, but you can’t articulate what you actually want. Instead of saying “dynamic,” try using words that are more specific to the project. “We’d like this text to be bolder” or “I want the text to be more broken up with images” offers clearer feedback to the designer. Get specific, and if there’s still a disconnect, show the designer visual examples of what you’re thinking.

“We need something graphic”

Are we talking Quentin Tarantino graphic, or do you want more pie charts? Yes, it’s called graphic design, but the use of the word “graphic” in this context doesn’t give the designer any direction. What they’re creating is inherently going to be visual, otherwise you wouldn’t require their services. What type of visual do you want? Are you envisioning a children’s book illustration or a geometric pattern? Again, specificity is key in conveying what you want.

“Make it pop”

This has become the most overused way to describe the need for more emphasis on a certain visual element. I can usually tell when a client has meddled too much with a design because of the inclusion of a garish color or tacky graphic. If you want something emphasized, trust your designer to make the right decision about how to execute it. Instead, say, “I’d like to draw more attention to the headline. What do you suggest?”

“Just get creative”

Sadly, graphic designers aren’t mind readers. I think most clients use this as a way to illustrate how easy to please they are. Of course, your designer won’t be able to give you what you want unless they know what your definition of creativity is. What is your vision? Your designer is there to make your vision a reality, not read your mind.

“It shouldn’t take long”

Unless you know the exact process your graphic designer is using for a certain project, it’s best to not tell them how easy or difficult their job will be. Sometimes what seems like a quick edit to you isn’t as simple as you think. This is especially important when you’re working on a project that requires other services, like printing. Always allow ample turnaround time if you want something done right.

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