Graphic Design Communication 101

Graphic Design Communication 101

By Jen Fenton, Creative Strategist

What is the key to “Design Speak?” Communication! Yes, I said it.

How does the word “communication” make you feel? Does your stomach turn into knots? Perhaps you rolled your eyes? Or maybe, just maybe, you got excited?! Either way, I’m with you.

I’ve worked in the design world for over thirteen years, and the work I am most proud of are the projects that were on point from the start. And, the common theme was that they each had stellar communication. I believe this is because the project initiators took the time to “design speak” with me.

Here are a few examples of some common questions and answers between a designer and the project initiator. I’ve provided a “design speak.”

Designer Question #1: What Is Your Vision?

The most effective designs come from articulating your needs clearly. When a designer asks about your vision for a project, make sure to think about and provide the following items:

Who is the Target Audience?

Who will see and interact with the work? Do you have a brand guide? A brand guide dictates the look/feel of the work. It defines what type of font should be used, colors, and imagery. A brand guide helps designers understand the visual expectations so that the work is recognizable and cohesive. This helps consumers understand the integrity and mission of the business.

What type of imagery would you like to use?

Lifestyle images are everyday people doing everyday things. Illustrative/Vector/Infographic styles use icons to visually illustrate an idea or process.

Is this a print or digital project?

Print means that there will be a physical representation of this design to touch, feel, and interact with. There are many things to consider with print projects, including paper type, size, matching colors, folds, etc. Digital means that it will live online and exist as a 2-D image. Size and file type is critical to know up front. Each print or digital design file is set-up differently. It can cause a massive headache for a designer if this is not clearly defined at the beginning of a project. Most designers are intuitive, but we definitely aren’t mind-readers. Being able to communicate your vision and thoughts for the final output will help a project run more smoothly.

Designer Question #2: Do You Have Any Samples or Examples?

A picture is worth 1,000 words, plus, it saves A LOT of time. Use websites like Pinterest, GDUSA [link], 99Designs [], and others to find inspiration to share with your designer. Use us as a sounding board for ideas. Concrete examples help us understand your direction when design vocabulary is lost. Trust us, we won’t lead you astray!

Designer Question #3: What Are Your Thoughts?

Designers thrive on feedback. Honest and constructive feedback is so valuable. And don’t worry about hurting our feelings. We’re trained to listen to others feedback and take criticism. Get specific regarding changes and point out the things that are working as well as the things that aren’t. Please point out an error, often we get so excited about creating a design we often overlook a detail or two. If things aren’t working out after a second proof that probably means some additional visual examples are needed. Don’t worry, it’ll get there!

Designer Question #4: What Content Should I Use?

We usually expect that content is provided to us in a final format. Many of us are not trained writers even though we work with copy every day. I use a great online resource called Grammarly, and I love it! If you are relying on your designer to create content for you, an outline is critical. Help us understand what you want to relay to your audience. Point us to a web page or other resource, so we know where to go for the information. And always, always, proof your designs. We spend hours and hours staring at the same thing, and a human error can occur. Help us out and be a second pair of eyes to check for mistakes. Two are always better than one!

Finally, trust our judgment and be flexible. Let your designer use their skills to create and improve upon your vision. Be open and honest with communication and let the creativity unfold.

Leave a Reply