Here’s what you need to know.
1) Pick your designer with caution. Have a look through the online portfolio. See what you like and what you do not like. Good designers are versatile, and should have a wide array of styles and techniques in their portfolio.
2) Research, don’t copy. Have a thorough look on the Internet and see what elements from different websites you like. Designers can take these abstract concepts and turn them into something new and exciting for you. You only stunt the creative process when you tell a designer, “I want this thing exactly, only in a different color.”
3) Talk in emotions and feelings instead of how you want it to look. Emotions and feelings make more sense to talented designers, and they’ll use their expertise to create shapes and layout after that.
4) Be clear about what you need. Be upfront about this. If you are adding more and more features along the road, the design will begin to look “Frankenstein”-ed. Have a list of all the features you’ll need at the beginning, and it will all be taken into consideration from the start.
5) Set specific deadlines. The creative process is hard to put parameters on sometimes, but since you aren’t looking for a Picasso or to change the face of design as we know it, your designer should be able to stick to solid deadlines, give or take a day or so. Letting your designer know in advance exactly when you need a draft or a completed project will keep frustration to a minimum for everyone involved.
6) Provide your content quickly, and during the first stages of the process. Designers aren’t going to build a website around filler content, just to have a client come around with twice as much body text as originally planned. Good designers aren’t limited by large amounts of copy, so long as they have it upfront.
7) Design for your customer. The most important question in good design is “does it communicate properly with the target market.” It’s not as important if you like the design as it is if your customer will like it.
8) Be able to backup your preferences. Design, like all forms of art, is in emotional experience. You can’t just say, “I don’t like brown,” and expect that to mean much to a designer. Sure, they won’t use that color, but really get to the root of why that shade of brown is putting you off. If you can explain emotionally and logically to a designer why something isn’t working, it will give them better understanding for the rest of the project.
9) The popular vote doesn’t exist in design. No good design was ever created by a committee. Often, the more eyes involved in a project causes the design to lose a lot of it’s original intent. While it is good to show the work to a few trusted individuals, it isn’t a great idea to show it to everyone. No one likes all of the same things, and you’ll begin to lose confidence in the design due to conflicting opinions. Remember, the decision on changes and revisions comes from you.
10) Don’t tell your designer how to design. Like any other job field, this is their area of expertise. Offer up your requirements, preferences, and any changes along the way, but the more you micromanage a designer, the less motivated they’ll be to work on your assignment. Remember, good design comes from an artist that is excited about a project.