Want to get the best from your design studio?
Whether they’re newly hired or long-standing partners, here are five top tips, based on 15 years of agency-side experience, that will get you results, rapport and respect (and possibly even access to their stash of brightly-coloured confectionery).
1. Don’t like it? Fine, but give a reason
Creative folk aren’t (usually) as pretentious or argumentative as they are made out to be, so don’t be afraid to push back if you don’t think a design will work for your brand.
Just remember that when you do, it’s important to give a constructive reason. “I don’t like the design – it’s too pink!” is not exactly helpful.
Objective feedback such as: “The colour you’ve used is too close to a competitor brand” will elicit a thoughtful and proactive response.
2. Trust experienced designers
Shape the requirements by all means, but if you’re going to a good design agency, let them direct the design for you (it’s what you’re paying them for, anyway).
Like any other experienced professionals, they will be drawing on (excuse the pun) specialist expertise from across their industry. Creativity is their passion – so empower them and they’ll create award-winning design work for you.
Micro-manage them into pixel pushing, and you’ll be left with a design that’s built by committee: unwieldy, unbalanced, and unlikely to reflect any of its original passion and energy.
3. Create a conversation
Invite your designer to show you what they’ve done in person, and they’ll explain their work to you with passion and conviction, and will be happy to answer your questions and feedback on the spot.
A good designer knows exactly why they laid out a web page as they did – why they used a particular font, image, or colour palette (good ‘creatives’ work to a rationale).
This is the best way to be part of the design process – you’ll get to know and understand your lead designer better; and in turn, be ready to share your aspirations for your programme and your brand with them.
4. Bring creative and technology together from the start
Technical constraints should not limit the creative process, nor should designs prove too costly or complex to build. Connect your technical and creative teams with each other at the earliest possible opportunity, so that they can work closely together to deliver an effective and efficient result for you.
Get them to present to you as a team – even if the creative does all the talking, the quiet nod from the tech guy at each crucial point tells you that the design is realistic and do-able.
5. Do some user experience testing
Save yourself time, money and the risk of egg-on-face. In the non-virtual world, no launch takes place without trials of some kind, and your digital designs should be no different.
User testing irons out any glitches and provides a useful insight into customer reactions and behaviours before you go live. Test static designs using paper-prototyping, clickable pdfs or build a simple HTML prototype.
This way, you can be confident that your site will not only be technically perfect, it will have been refined to deliver the best user experience possible.