“To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
― Lao Tzu
“The client from hell” is a famous cry from so many Graphic Designers. Although, I doubt this is a situation unique to Graphic Designers. However, this is an article written from a designer’s point of view so I digress. Most clients from hell are mostly a product of ignorance, hence the above quote or just people with really bad etiquette.
Instead of making this an article that bashes such clients, this will be a good chance to educate at least the open minded ones prior to their next appointment with a graphic design professional. Here are a few things it would help to know first so as to not acquire the tag in the title of this blog.
Graphic Designers are educated professionals
It is safe to say that just like you most graphic designers obtained a college education, which cost time, money and effort. If you didn't go to college you are not excluded either and there’s something for you also in this article. As with most professions there are those who are renowned in their crafts, there are those who pursued their respective field for the passion, the professional respect and to earn an honest living; yet there are those who are in it for the money and to possibly get one over the client. It is quite understandable if a client is cautious and has doubt about whom and how their money is spent. Prior to going to designer you should research or look up samples of their work. If you are happy with what you see then go ahead and contact them in confidence knowing that they will provide you with the best service. Find out about the cost of your project? Can you afford it? Does the designer have payment plans in place that will allow for you to proceed with the project? If you still can’t afford it you should budget for it and come back at a later date. Finally, trust in their judgment that they are after your best interest. After all the work they do represents them. Treat them with the same respect you would expect to be treated with as a fellow professional. If you could do it yourself and get it done right you wouldn't need a designer.
Rules and tools
As with most professions or trades there are rules and practices that govern it. Such rules in the case of graphic design would include things like software used to complete the project, the design process, psychology, the nature of project, professional integrity etc. Some rules are aesthetic in nature; others are practical and can be bent. Going a bit further graphic designers use Adobe creative soft wares because it is industrial standard and gets the job done best. Psychology: the target audience and the nature of the project often determine the choices that the designer puts into a design. A corporate design would be different from a mom-pop store design. Design process: a consultation helps determine what a client’s project is about, the intensity of the project and the time it will take to complete; sketches, computer aided rendering, revisions and final product; billing (hourly or flat fee), contracts (to protect both parties interests). The list is exhaustive but this gives you as a client some ideas of why things are the way they are.
What Graphic Design is and isn't
The purpose of Graphic Design in its purest of form is to solve visual problem and not necessarily look pretty. A good example is the clean and uncluttered red “stop sign”. Why? Red means danger and most people in our society recognize and accept that. The sign warns people; its simple nature communicates that point quickly enough to a driver. It is not to be admired and bought. On the flip side products require attractive packaging to influence the buyer and to stand out from the other packaged products fighting for the consumers’ attention. Unlike the stop sign products require that aesthetic appeal to attract as well as the proper information presented in a legible way for the consumer to make their choices. The choice a designer makes is determined by the nature of the project.
Graphic design isn’t about getting on the computer and throwing pretty fonts and pictures together. Different fonts and images communicate different things in different contexts. It isn’t about plastering the surface of a magazine or product with as much images as one can. Why? Sometimes less is more hence the dreaded negative space (white space) a lot of clients hate. Think about that red stop sign with so much artsy stuff around it would detract from its purpose.
Graphic design isn’t easy like magic and to be expected to be done at the snap of a finger. So, when a client says, “Work your magic.”, “Make it pop.” and more of such phrases. It makes no sense to the designer, makes the client sound stupid, and implies that it doesn’t take skills, effort and thought to do.
If you don’t know what “The Golden Rule” is, it basically says to treat others how you would want to be treated. In other words if you are running late to an appointment call and let the designer know; Come prepared to your consultation. If you know what you want both parties are happy. If you don’t know what is the appropriate thing to want then defer to the designer. Pay your bills when they are due. The designer has financial needs as well. If you can’t afford his or her prices don’t enter into that transaction. Find another designer that might suit your budget. However, don’t expect the same level of work to be done. Don’t bring an important project to a designer at the last minute expecting magic. Graphic design isn't magic. The designer has a life and other clients as well. In the event he/she takes up your late work expect to either pay more or not get the same quality that a well- planned out project would receive. Make your request but trust the designer’s judgment unless it’s not something that pertains to design.
It is safe to say that clients from hell are a product of ignorance. Hopefully, this article has informed you on what to do and what not to do to avoid that tag. When designer and client can work in harmony business flows smoothly.
Also check out frequently asked questions by client and design terms clients should know.
When most clients meet with a graphic designer they often say things along the lines of "I want an amazing logo". It is an admirable quality that one wants the best for their organization. However, when you consider that there are others out there repeating that same exact line. It makes you wonder what amazing really is, since what is considered amazing tends to be subjective.
It is safe to say that if it is well done (craftsmanship), memorable (the emotions said art work inspires), and if it is relevant then it can begin to be described as amazing. When it comes to logo design there are a few criteria that an art work must meet in order to be successful. If it is successful from the designer's point of view it probably amazing. Well, it all goes back to that thing about beautiful art work being subjective. What makes a logo amazing (even if it's unsuccessful) is the quality it comes to represent. Normally that quality is built over time. So, this is why it is most important that the brand, service and products that a logo represent is outstanding. This is the part most clients should be concerned with.
So, what makes for an amazing logo from a practical design stand point?
Simplicity: This word should not be confused for cheap. It merely means is it easy to understand and identify as quickly as possible? In this digital age so many things are fighting for our attention. So, it's very important to get the point passed across fast.
Target audience: Specific target audience have specific expectations of certain things. When elements of the design meet these visual needs the thirst of this group of people is quenched and they are happy. Think corporate versus rock and roll.
Scale: When the art work is shrunk down to a button size or for an online display, is it still recognizable? Some, clients think that if a logo has lots of elements to it, that that makes it amazing. What they don't realize is that when such complex logos are viewed in certain contents then they end up looking tacky.
Psychology & Culture: Certain colors and shapes mean different things in different contexts. For example red is associated with danger. Hence the red stop sign. Red is also good for quick attention grabbing. Assuming a logo is being designed for a Japanese company elements of that what certain symbols means in that culture would have to be considered in other for the target audience to make sense of it.
Interest: Does the content (shape, colors, line thickness etc) and composition (how the contents are put together) of the logo capture the visual interest?
There's possibly more to the list above. When these checklist of things have been met in a logo design then it is safe to say that it is amazing. So, when a designer disagrees with certain suggestions a client might make it is not because of an ego investment but because they aren't meeting the goals of "amazing". What is a client paying for? The education of the designer, their creativity, research, revision and the time of all of these things combined. It is also the reason it's insulting to when clients expect everything to magically come together so fast and be amazing for dirt cheap. Now you know what's in a logo.
For all your logo and design needs be sure to contact www.uzodesign.com
Have you ever stopped and looked back at a specific part of your life? Every now and then you are more than likely to have that moment of epiphany and a part of you wish you had done things differently. Looking back at my education as a Graphic Design student with what I now know; I believe the Graphic Design program in most universities should evolve.
To be fair my professor from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), John Motz of MotzArt & Design always tried to instill the value into us about our work. One of the values he always drove home was selling ourselves (our design, since it represents us) as though we were dealing with a real client. Some students came to perceive him as this mean person, when they were held accountable for poor choices.
Having lived in California now for the past ten months, I have come to realize through my unsuccessful job hunt so far, how fierce the competition is. What is more of a burden is the amount of expectations placed on Graphic Designers to be marketers. We were always asked to specialize in a field of visual communication. Yet, most of the job posts out there expect you as a designer to know HTML, CSS, social media and other marketing strategies. The irony is that John didn’t really care for social media like Facebook, as being that relevant to a business’ success. Maybe he has changed his mind now.
With the knowledge of these expectations on designers, I have taken it upon myself in my spare time to learn about websites like Wordpress, Weebly and Wix. I have also subscribed to newsletters from marketers giving away free tips on things like SEO and social media practices that can help boost a business. I even have my peers in other fields asking me about these things and now I can at least explain it to them and even help them out in some ways. Which brings me back to the point of this blog; that Visual Communication and Design programs in Universities should start to incorporate marketing as part of their curriculum.
Why should Universities do this? Well, because the game has changed, the stakes are much higher now in this dog-eat-dog world of the work force. For all the money we pay for higher education. It pays off when we are hirable upon graduation. Let’s face it, a lot of non-designers out there have access to our soft wares and tools we use and are giving away their services for cheap and in the process hurting the true designers.
So, at the end of the day we need to ask ourselves, what use is a beautiful logo, website, brochure without the effective marketing strategies that will generate income growth? How are these marketing strategies being used in the design of Senior Thesis Exhibition? What classes must be eliminated while being replaced by marketing or business ones that actually work in real world. In hindsight despite the efforts instructors put into bridging the gap between education and the work force, once you are out there you can’t help but look back and realize that perhaps your education was missing something.
What is SEO and why should you care about it? Well, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words it represents a series of practices one has to engage in to be relevant on the World Wide Web. Well, you should care because no matter what type of business you are involved with being found and being patronized is one way to stay relevant and profitable.
SEO is how Google ranks websites in its search engine. If you are profitable company with a lot of traffic you move up on the search engine. It would even make sense for a lot of other companies to advertise through you and you can earn extra income from that. Whoever complained about a little extra money? Even if you weren't motivated by the extra income it’s still safe to say you would love for your company to be found. As far as SEO goes there isn't one magic thing you can do to improve your rankings. The rankings aren't permanent either. So, periodically a company might move up or down.
Here are a few practices that can help to improve one’s SEO: Adding Keywords in your Meta tags at the back end of your website (This won’t make sense to you if you are not a designer), writing an interactive blog, back linking to your site from other sites etc. There are more practices out there. However, this article should be viewed more as a crash course in SEO for those of us not deeply rooted in the technological practices.
Meta tags and Keywords
At the back end of a web design, there’s usually a form box that is titled “Meta tags” In this box you want to list all the keywords that pertain to your business. So, for example if you are florist you might want to list the state you are located in, your company name, types of flowers you have etc. In short anything that would pop up and point to you when someone goes on Google or other search engines to look up your services. Be sure to separate each of those words with a comma.
Blogging has become a very good way of getting traffic to a site. The rule here is that your content should be engaging and relevant to your site. So, if you are a florist in my earlier example you could write about why it’s best to plant seeds in the late fall so that by spring they are in bloom or how bees being killed off due to pesticides is affecting the cost of roses. I am sure you catch the drift. A few things to know about blogging is that (1) controversial or helpful articles tend to generate more interaction between readers or you and the readers (2) You want to have keywords sprinkled into your blog so that the Google spiders that pick up on those keywords will do just that. The more keywords you have on your site the better. However, you can just over-do it. (3) make sure that your designer includes features into your blogs that allow people to comment. (4) Have your designer include an opt-in form for people to sign up and receive newsletters on your blog. If you want to get in-depth into it you can also attach an Auto Responder such as Mail Chimp which gathers the names and e-mails of your subscribers. It also lets you schedule future posts. (5) Link your blog to your social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter.
The way back links work is to have a link from another site link back to yours. One of the ways you can achieve this is to write a column or a blog for reputable website and include a link on that site that goes back to yours. Hopefully, you can write something that mentions your site name. Be sure to make sure that your site name is a word that is an actual link that people can click on. The more people click on that link to go to your site. The more relevant Google sees that your site is. However, it’s best to have this practice on several other sites pointing back to yours. Otherwise, eventually Google will see that your source is coming from only one place which means your site isn't very relevant after all.
Now that you’ve learned a little about SEO, you are now better informed and can sound a bit more knowledgeable at the next social gathering with those talking about such things. Perhaps, you have now realized how you can improve upon your site traffic, because frankly speaking it’s no longer just good enough to have a fancy website that’s not generating any income for your business. Still, with this knowledge you might be too busy to find time to invest in such a thing. So, what can you do? Well, you can always hire an informed designer like Uzo Design to handle your website needs or you can hire a blogger to write on your site.
There is this notion that since computers and software are easily accessible today you can easily do it all yourself. Better yet that you can get your nephew, niece, son, friend...fill in the blank here—to get it done. While we are all within our rights to hire whomever we please to get the job done. Is that always the best approach to take? Should one always indulge because they can? After all, this is your business or project we are talking about here. If it were just about using software and computers then surely people wouldn't spend thousands of dollars to get an education in the graphic design field.
The purpose of this article is to educate new business owners (especially the small kind) on who a graphic designer is and why they need one and a good one especially. As a Graphic designer writing this article, this is not me taking a chance to rub my knowledge in your face. It's safe to say that there's a lot that goes into running your business, and trying to figure out nuances of design is not another chore you want to burden yourself with. In the same way, a designer may not know the day to day or the behind the scenes of running your business—it would be safe to say you wouldn't be the most qualified to know about graphic design. Is this a fair assumption to make?
Who then is a good Graphic Designer and what role does he/she play in your business? My definition of a designer would be someone who is formally educated in the skills required to solve visual communication problems aesthetically and practically. These skills would involve knowledge and technique of using software such as Photoshop, InDesign etc. As well as having a psychological understanding of how design impacts your audience. So, while your nephew might have figured out a few cool tricks in Photoshop that doesn't qualify him as a designer. The major difference between your average software user(who tend to be self-proclaimed designers) and your designer would be the ability to discern and make psychological decisions that enhance your image and bridges the gap between you and your target audience. Better yet the mark of an advanced designer is to be able to combine their design skills with good marketing practice. Good design is half the problem solved, more on this later.
It would be safe to say that the reason why a new business owner might hire their non-designer friend or try to do it themselves is because they want to cut cost by cutting corners. It could also be because they don't know any better hence this article. This attitude is further perpetuated because of a new business owner while claiming to be concerned about his or her clients; maybe making self-absorbed decisions. In the end, this comes back to bite the owner in the rear. Even as Graphic Designers we are often told to start with our target audience in mind. In other words, our goal is to arrest the attention of our audience and spur them into taking action. The misconception is that we as designers are there to make pretty images. This notion minimizes the creative problem solving efforts of designers. The point of a designer's awesome image is to capture attention but at the end of the day if a design can't engage an audience in a way that causes them to take action it has failed. Consider this, the cool image that is designed for a rock band would go contrary to what would appeal to a corporation's target audience. At this point are you starting to get a clearer picture why hiring your cousin Jenny to save a few bucks can hurt you?
So, do you really need a Graphic Designer? Well, that depends on how serious you are about presenting your business. A designer's job is to listen to your needs and use their awesome skill set to make your life easier. A designer is there to help present your business and organization in the best light to your target audience. The most important thing a designer can do for your new business is to create an identity for your business. This is generated by presenting a consistent look and feel of your product and services. This reinforces your image to make it more memorable. Think about Coca-Cola. Like I said earlier having a good designer is half the battle. You would also need to hire a marketer, have a quality product or customer service for your business to really take off. So, if you can hire a designer that has a good marketing knowledge this will be a plus. It is also necessary to give your designer enough information to work with and trust them enough to have your best interest at heart. If you have doubts about designers in general, my advice would be to look through their portfolio, look up online reviews about them or ask them for references with their current or past clients. Once you've done your research on them simply sit back and let them do what they you hired them to do.
Once more you need a designer to present your best image to your target audience. This is a job that can't be entrusted to just about anyone. If money is the issue for you, it might be best to hold off rather than presenting a tacky image to the public. You could also include the design in the budget of your capital or loan. With this knowledge, I trust you will make the best decision for your new business. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Cheers.
Hey, guys, I want to open up this blog for discussion. What is your most current design project that you are excited about? Personally working on my website and working towards my senior project has me really excited but the what has me excited the most is being an Addy award winner. Can't wait for the ceremony on February 16th. It means a lot to me because it means I am the first Nigerian (and African) to win it in my school. I am also hoping that this is the start of bigger things to come for me. So, what's your story?