There's a saying in the marketing world: Trust the designer.
In graphic and web design, it means that if you're entrusting a creative professional to make choices that reflect your brand, trust those choices.
After all, they're the ones with all the training. They're the ones you're paying. They're the ones you should trust.
I've struggled with this myself, as I've worked with a number of different designers over the past several years. While I'm not a designer myself, I think I have artistic sense and intuition.
If I'm not careful, though, I can easily begin to nitpick and tell the designer how to do his job.
When you provide vision for a project, there is a myriad of ways in which it can be applied. That's because art is in the eye of the beholder. Your idea can be interpreted and acted on in a number of different forms.
So what do you do when there's conflict between creative vision and application?
The best thing you can do is trust the process.
But how do you actually do that? Here are three tips to remember:
1. Trust the person
If you've hired a professional, trust her pedigree. There is a reason you chose her to do this project. Maybe it was her portfolio or education or the mock-ups she presented. But she was chosen her for a reason. Trust that.
Don't doubt why you chose her now that she's going in a direction you don't understand or agree with.
So what if you might do it differently? Respect her opinions. This tension is part of the process. Sure, ask questions, but remember who the expert is. (Hint: not you.)
And if the person you ended up hiring isn't that good, either hire somebody better or deal with who you have.
Note: micromanaging and nitpicking is not an option.
2. Give helpful feedback
When it comes time to give feedback (which can be extremely helpful when done appropriately), be careful not to tell your designer how to do his job.
This is what he's trained to do. It's what you hired him to do. To make tough choices. To make things look excellent. And believe it or not, there are some difficult decisions required in making things look really good.
So when it comes time to review mockups, be careful with your words. Be honest, but stay away from assumptions. Words like “simple” or “easy” or “no big deal” aren't yours to share — not when you're talking about someone else's skill set.
What you can do is share your own impressions, ask lots of questions, and honestly voice your opinions and concerns.
3. Appreciate opportunity cost
Realize that choosing one direction is automatically not choosing another. Be okay with that.
This is called being an adult. It means that making one creative choice over another automatically counts out all other possibilities from this project.
This is painful — letting creative ideas die. But trust this part of the process, too, believing that the really great ideas that didn't get used can be resurrected later.
Not just for designers, anymore
This idea of trusting your designer isn't just about design or creative work.
It's about life and people, in general.
Why not apply this rule of trusting a professional in their craft to all aspects of life? Why not consider this concept in light of other fields of work? Isn't it a great idea, freeing even? Instead of second-guessing and micromanaging, you can give direction and empower.
All great leaders do just that.
Trusting your “designer” (or plumber or IT guy or whatever) is essential to getting quality work done.
And it'll free you up to do what you're a pro at. Isn't that what you want? What we all want?
*Photo credit: Chad Magiera (Creative Commons)