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Nine Things Not to Say to Creative Professionals

By Rick Sloboda |

Like anyone whose job involves direct client contact, creative professionals often come across difficult client behaviour patterns.

But as the saying goes - the customer is always right - and often these problems go unchecked in favour of politeness. These things not only affect your service professional's sanity, but may also be detrimental to your working relationship, your project's productivity and even your wallet's contents.

The following is a collection of things you should avoid saying to creative professionals, including designers, developers and copywriters, if you want to get the most out of their services, while making the world a happier place.

1. "This shouldn't take long."

Describing a project to your designer or developer as "quick" by saying things like, "This design shouldn't take long," or "I've got a great vision that should be easy to design" is a sure-fire eye-roll trigger. Unless, of course, you are well versed in the intricacies of great design and developing, which is not usually the case.

Designing a logo that represents everything your company stands for, or a website your customers can easily navigate, plays an important role in communicating your desired brand image, and also takes time and effort. Remember that you are paying your service provider for his or her expertise in something that is not as simple as a finger snap, or anyone could do it.

If you're saying these things in an effort to subliminally reduce the number of hours you will have to pay for, you're just going to annoy the provider and start your relationship on the wrong foot.

2. "Give it to me raw."

You may not be aware of this, but asking your graphic designer to give you the raw design files after the job is complete often loosely translates as, "I'm going to keep this so I can make changes in the future or give it to a cheaper, less talented graphic designer to butcher as I see fit."

This is particularly troublesome if the design has been carefully crafted to represent your brand, and is meant to be consistent with the rest of your marketing designs.

Think of it as walking into your grandmother's kitchen and adding tons of salt to the pot she's been slaving over all day. She knows what she's doing and she's been doing it a heck of a lot longer than you have so leave it alone before you create a monster.

3. "Last change, I promise!"

Your copywriter has just sent you 15 pages of web copy for approval and awaits your comments. Instead of taking the time to carefully go through the web copy and collect your thoughts on edits, you start firing off emails. You've also sent the draft to several of your coworkers for their input. Now the poor copywriter is under email assault and is getting multiple edit requests from several different people.

Designers and developers also agree that taking time to compile your requested changes in one response saves everyone time, money and headaches. This is because: 1. Well-organized feedback is more easily understood and applied; and 2. Your copywriter or designer is now able to make changes all at once, which can actually end up saving their time, and your money.

4. "You're my (human paintbrush)."

Don't get upset when your copywriter or graphic designer limits your edits on a project. By the time you've hired them, you've endorsed their creativity and have agreed to pay them for their brilliance. Micro-managing the project every step of the way is like hiring a human paintbrush. If you would rather do the project yourself, maybe your money would be better spent on your own graphic design software.

This limitation should not be viewed as arrogance, but rather building a trusted relationship with someone you've hired who has studied and practised their craft long enough to be paid well to do it.

5. "Turn this (water into wine)."

If you're providing your designer with photos you think will complement your website, pay close attention to the designer's format requests. No matter your level of fondness for a photo or your amazing photography skills, even the best designer can't turn a tiny, pixilated thumbnail into HD.

This is not to say that your web developer can't turn your wildest idea into reality. As in our first example about the length of time a project can take, it's important not to make assumptions. Some things might actually be easier than they appear.

6. "To (partially) answer your question…"

Part of a copywriter's job, like developers and designers, involves conducting research on the product or business he or she is writing about. A lot of this information will be coming from you, so be sure to leave no stone unturned. The more information you can provide on your company, products or services, the better.

Be sure to pay close attention to your copywriter's questions and take the time to answer them to the best of your ability. This will result in content that truly represents your company goals and lets your potential customers know exactly how amazing your products or services really are.

7. "Make it approachable, yet outrageous."

Clear communication is as important in the creative process as it is in life. When your copywriter asks you what kind of tone you want your copy to have, try to be as specific as you can. Creativity might be an abstract concept, but without knowing specifically what you're after, you're playing Russian roulette and might not hit the target.

This also applies to design. If your designer sends you several very different logos for approval and you like certain things about all of them, be specific in your feedback. Don't say, "I love them all! Put them together!" Let them know the exact elements that please you and which do not.

8. "I sure like that Comic Sans font, let's use that."

Another thing you pay your web designer for is to be up-to-date on design standards. Just because you like a certain zany font doesn't mean that it's the best choice for you. Trust your designer's professional opinion when they tell you that Comic Sans is a bad choice, and for the love of god, a drop shadow does not make it any better.

9. "Looks great, but my clients don't speak Latin."

Your designer has just sent you a first draft of your website design, but all the pages are strangely filled with some "Lorem Ipsum" jibber jabber. This content is commonly used as a placeholder to help you focus on design elements rather than messaging.

If you're interested in getting your shiny new website online as soon as possible, you may want to consider hiring a copywriter to get started on your web copy once the site outline is developed. This way, once the design is done, you can plug in your content and head off to the races.

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