When you start to work with a creative agency you want them to bring your ideas to life and designers want to work closely with you to make that happen.

But there’s much more to the creative process than sending off a creative brief and waiting for the finished results. Good feedback improves the design process because it reduces misunderstandings and leaves rooms for creative inspiration and beautiful design.

99 problems

We are all running around like headless chickens, and so the last thing anyone needs is to add any more problems to their ever-growing list of ticking timebombs.

So, when you hire a creative agency, you hire them to make your project easier and not harder. A good designer not only creates beautiful visuals they should also understand your brief down to its bare bones and then translate that into tangible design.

But designers do need some guidance, and that’s why good feedback is so important for the creative process. It’s a bit like expecting an architect to build you a dream house when you’ve had no input on the original blueprints. At one point or another your two view points will veer away from each other and generate a creative disconnect.

The best creative work comes when two or more people are in creative flow, when they work closely together and collaborate openly. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and when each person plays to their strengths you can create something truly memorable and unique.

Lost in translation

Now you might be constantly feeding back to your creative designer and he might be responding and modifying to your every whim. But somehow the design might still not be where you or the designer imagined it to be, creating mutual frustration.
Design feedback is like a chain of communication, and if part of that chain isn’t clear or concise it can soon end up creating Chinese whispers. And when a designer is producing something from confusing feedback they are effectively designing on dodgy footing.

Here are our top 3 feedback fails which can stop your designer’s feeling like Bambi on ice so they can concentrate on producing razor sharp design –

1. Unrealistic expectations

We get it, you want the design result to be your imagination in print. And great design should be able do just that with a bit of creative magic, design know-how and elbow grease. Beautiful and functional design can splash the most mundane ideas with multi-coloured inspiration.

But as with all things in life, the reality is often not as good as your expectations. Design has its limits and can’t always tick every single box. For example, a flyer or website only has so much room on it and a designer can’t change the angle of a photo no matter how much he tries to strongarm Photoshop.

You can work more productively with your designer and ensure that you collaboratively produce something pretty awesome by striking a balance between your creative dreams and the reality of design.

Designers should want their creative vision to match yours and so if you try to give clear and simple instructions your graphic designer will likely do the same. Aim for fluid negotiation and watch your creative ideas spark to life through a mutually open mindset.

2. Vague and confusing comments

We all do it, we fire an email off in between frantic coffee gulps and our 5th meeting of the day. We are all starved for thinking time and are often guilty of sending unclear and confusing replies to each other. And this phenomenon bleeds right into the client designer relationship too.

If you ask a designer to change a colour to blue, don’t expect them to choose the marine blue in your head unless you tell them so. And even though your designer knows your brief and core values they don’t know your company like you do, so it’s best to always over explain than assume knowledge where there might be a gap.

Top tip – Go over your email carefully and add more prevision where you can. If you’re having a face-to-face meeting or a phone call, prepare what you want to say beforehand and thoroughly review the creative draft that was sent to you. You’ll get the most out of your feedback session and your designer gets what you want the first time and not the 27th.

Using the wrong terminology is another feedback fail to avoid like the plague. Nobody should know every single design terminology going, designers don’t expect you to swallow the design dictionary. But if you do use specific terminology, make sure you know what it means. If you want the designer to trim something but you say bleed, you will end up with a very different design than you expected.

Your best bet is to explain what you mean instead of using terminology you aren’t comfortable with. Screenshots and other visual examples also help us no end. And picking up the phone to explain what you mean can solve a problem instantly instead of scraping through the 14th email chain with your designer.

Frustration can be the death of creativity. It’s important for both parties to proactively keep things friendly, open and communicative so a creative project can blossom.

3. Impossible requests

As website and graphic designers, we love a good challenge. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone it often gets the creative juices flowing and helps us to think outside of the box.

Although we’d all like to be the Genie to your Aladdin and think of ourselves as computer whiz kids, we can’t make absolutely anything happen. Our creative team at Bamboo Manchester give straight-talking feedback because we know it avoids unnecessary crossed wires further down the line. And we, like all other creative designers, read your brief inside out so we can make your goals become a singing, dancing reality.

But creative projects do have limitations, because even though the core of graphic design is art, it still has rules. Some shapes and colours don’t go together, some pictures or graphics don’t fit the overall style and sometimes the copy needs to be modified to fit the design. And if you want a minimalist design but want a floral background with flowery copy, then your designer can’t make all three happen.

Top tip – Come to your creative briefing meeting brimming with ideas and throw them on the brainstorming table. But make sure you tell your designer that you want his expert advice on which ones work and which don’t. The designer will relish the chance to sift through your ideas and choose a patchwork of inspirations that they know will create fantastic design. Remember that your designer always wants you to come with your own ideas because it helps him understand your brief. But when the designer does his or her creative thing listen to that expert opinion and try to meet them halfway between your expectations and their experience.

And the same can be said for designers. We’d be very rich Mancunians if we got a quid every time a designer throws caution to the wind and designs something that they liked but isn’t actually what the client asked for.

In the end, it takes two to tango. And collaborating while listening are two multi-tasking qualities that both the client and designer should have as their creative crest. Meeting in the middle is also crucial when producing creative sparks that also hit the design brief head on.

Like what you read? Have a look at our think, design,create blog where you can read futurist thinking, see handy design tips and find out how to create design magic.

And don’t forget! We aren’t just top-notch Manchester web designers we also dabble in other digital creative fields. If you like how we think and reckon we’d make a good creative match get in touch with the Bamboo team.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Photo by ray rui on Unsplash

lightbulb by Davo Sime from the Noun Project