8 rules of thumb for giving your freelance designer feedback

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Do you cringe at the thought of providing criticism? Does it feel like you and your designer speak different languages? Or do you feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of back and forth with your freelance designer?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, here are some rules of thumb on giving feedback that will make both you and your freelance designer happy.

1. Be specific: One sure-fire way to shorten the revision process is to be painfully specific with your feedback. If you provide a vague critique like, “It needs to be more eye-catching,” you leave your feedback open to interpretation. What you think is eye-catching and what your designer thinks is eye-catching is probably very different. When you provide a specific critique such as, “The background needs to be a brighter color to attract people from far distances,” it takes out all of the guesswork and helps your freelance designer provide you with a successful solution.

2. Explain the problem: There is a strong – very strong – temptation to run through your revision requests like a to do list: one, make headline larger, two, change background color, etc. While this can be appropriate for certain changes, like fixing typos, it could rob you of taking full advantage of your freelance designer’s skills and expertise, which is why you hired them in the first place. Explaining the problem to your designer allows them to brainstorm solutions you hadn’t even considered. Two brains are better than one. While it’s completely okay to offer a solution, including your designer in the problem-solving process ensures that you find the best solution.

3. Make it timely: Making sure that your project is completed on-time is a shared responsibility. Feedback and revision rounds have the ability to run your project right off the rails. Establishing expectations of when feedback will be delivered and when a revised version will be delivered can go a long way to adhering to deadlines, not to mention decreasing stress levels on both sides. Both you and your freelance designer have other responsibilities besides the project you share. Engaging in open communication when things may be running late allows for both sides to make adjustments while maintaining a positive, professional relationship.

4. Provide examples: One of the barriers in working with professionals in other industries is the lingo. Designers have a vocabulary that you may not be familiar with and that can make it difficult to communicate what you are looking for in a design. One way to bridge the divide is to describe your thoughts as best you can and to accompany that explanation with an example. Designers are a visual people so providing examples to communicate your ideas is very effective.

5. Highlight the good: When it’s time to provide feedback, people tend to focus on the negative and on all the changes they want made. Don’t forget to highlight what you liked in a design. This gives your freelance designer a better understanding of what is working and of what can be utilized in the future. Plus, compliments make people happy, and it’s a good way to keep up a positive working relationship.

6. Ask questions: Feedback should be a discussion, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

7. Keep your audience in mind: It’s really easy to fall into the habit of crafting a design to your taste, but you have to remember that this design isn’t for you, it’s for your audience. When providing feedback, keep your audience in mind and the goals that are outlined in the project brief.

8. Be mindful of the golden rule: This one is easy – treat your freelance graphic designer as you’d like to be treated.

With these rules of thumb as your guide, you’ll be able to communicate successfully with your freelance designer and get to the final design more efficiently.

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