Back in 2011 when I released my first solo jazz album (here it is if you’re curious), I hadn’t yet begun designing album artwork myself – so I hired a professional graphic designer to design it for me (her name is April Kuo and she did an amazing job by the way). But what I found most interesting about this experience was that for the first time, I was the client in a design project instead of the designer! It was quite enlightening, as you can imagine.

I know from my experience as a professional designer that there’s lots of things I can do to help make sure the client is totally happy with the outcome of the project. These things include: listening carefully to my clients’ wants and needs, being patience with them as they figure out what they like and don’t like, and communicating clearly (without any tech jargon) about matters related to websites, search engines, design, and many other topics. Being on the client side of a project made me think hard about what I could do as a client, to make sure I got the results I really wanted. Below are four tips that I believe will greatly help you to get the results you want from your project with a designer – whether it’s for a website, album, business card, or anything else.

1) Do your research. As the client, you don’t have to have all the visuals figured out (that’s your designer’s job after all) – however, it really helps to have done some research in terms of what you like. This means looking online at examples of the thing you’re having designed (book cover, album cover, business card, etc.) and making note of some that you love, and – equally important – some that you hate. This will help communicate to your designer your general preferences for aesthetic and increase your chances that they’ll hit your designs right on the mark.

2) Keep the process moving.  When you see emails from your designer, try not to put them off until later – remember that the sooner you get back to them, the sooner they can get back to working and the sooner you’ll have your finished product.

3) Be open minded to your designer’s advice. Although art and design are somewhat subjective, hopefully your designer actually knows quite a lot about design. Absolutely voice your opinions about what you like and what you don’t like, but also remember that when your designer tells you one method is going to work better than another, they aren’t speaking from personal preference, but rather from experience and knowledge about what will work best for the user experience – which is what you want.

4) Stay with it until you’re 100% happy with your finished product. Your designer wants you to be happy. If you’re not liking how something is going, speak up. If something about your design piece is nagging at you, speak up. If you have a feeling you might regret something later on, speak up! It’s really important to your designer that you’re completely satisfied with the outcome of your design project. If you don’t, you’ll most certainly regret it later on.

So there you have it. Four tips to help you be a satisfied client. Good luck!

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