Don’t Dictate Design

You hired an agency or a designer to develop some design/marketing for your company. Perhaps you need a corporate brochure, an updated website or a new or refreshed logo. I’m assuming you hired this firm/person from a trusted referral or that you did your research and are confident this firm/person is the best choice for your needs.

You are a ways into the process and about to see the first design concepts… your team is excited and expecting to be wowed. The moment has arrived, you see the first concepts and… hmmm…not what you expected. You ask yourself “Why all this white space?” “Where are the colors?” “Why is my logo so small?¬† You are perplexed… you are making a major investment and the design team gives you something you are not thrilled with… AND to top it off, what does “”lorem ipsum”” mean? What to do now?

We hear stories like this from new clients who have had less than satisfying experiences with design projects in the past. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this lack of communication plays out all the time when the client is expecting one thing and the design team delivers something else. It’s the widening expectation-performance gap.

How to avoid this? Your design team should be engaging in an ongoing dialog about your expectations. From the nitty gritty design details to how the success of the design/marketing project will affect short and long-term business goals¬† it’s all about communication. In short, keeping clients up to speed during all phases of the project will narrow the expectation-performance gap and make for a more productive, pleasant and enduring relationship.

Here’s my advice: talk to the design team about your expectations and your concerns, but let them guide you through the process. A talented design team will have design, marketing and usability rationales for their concepts and make recommendations based on this. Although the client has ultimate veto power, your design team should be able to help you understand why a particular design concept will work for your marketing to help you achieve your goals. One thing worth keeping in mind at all times: it’s all about your target market and not your personal likes and dislikes. Sometimes clients want to jump in and become designers themselves. This can not only disrupt the design and implementation process, but also hinder the client’s success. So don’t dictate design. Leave it up to the experts. After all, that’s why you hired them.