Working with a Designer // Q&A with Kory Woodard

Q&A / How to work with a designer(image)

I’m so excited to be sharing today’s Q&A style post that I collaborated with Kory on. My recent rebranding experience was probably one of the smoothest and easy going experience a designer and control-freak blogger could have, not to toot our own horns. 

Handing over control of your passion isn’t easy, and communicating in a way that gets your best result doesn’t always come naturally. It helps to get into the head of the other side a bit, so that’s what we’re doing today!

I asked Kory a few questions that I thought were useful during the design process that I know other bloggers and creatives may struggle with. Hopefully, this helps your next project flow just as brilliantly as the e+m rebrand did!

Q: What are designers looking for when they ask for feedback? Could you give an example?

We want you to be honest and specific about what’s been presented. When you’re looking over something, make sure you’re considering your goals for your brand and the project. If you have questions or concerns about something, I usually like to receive it in a bulleted list, which makes the client be specific about what it is that they’re not sure about.

I have so many great examples from your project! In fact, for the original mockup of your blog design one of the things you said was this:

Under the post where category and comment options are displayed, instead of using italics for the links, could you do the title in super bold (i.e: find more in bold, 12 comments in bold) and then the link in a lighter font weight. I really like this bold/light contrast going on throughout the brand!”

Now not everyone will have as specific feedback, and that’s okay. However, you want to make sure that you’re clearly explaining what you’d like to see changed.

Q: Telling your designer that you don’t like something can be difficult, but is definitely necessary at times. What are your tips for giving negative feedback?

Ah, I feel like sometimes people get too scared to say they don’t like something and just don’t say anything, and that’s the worst thing you can do in this situation. Your designer truly wants you to end the project being happy and satisfied with what you’ve created together. It’s okay if you don’t like something or would just like to see a little variation.

Being on the receiving end of negative feedback is always easier when someone says a few things that they like and explain their hesitation around what they want changed. There have been several times when we client has hesitations about what I’ve presented and once they explain why I usually totally get it and agree. Remember, you know your brand best. If it feels wrong, it’s okay to say so.

Q&A / How to work with a designer(image)

Q: Budget is a huge apprehension for many people who want to work with designers. What’s the best way for a client to discuss budget with the designer?

My first rule of thumb on discussing cost is to not ask for anything for free or a huge discount. For most designers, myself included, this is frustrating because it looks like you don’t value our work and experience. Instead, be upfront about your budget for the project. If you really want to work with someone who’s just out of your price range, don’t be afraid to ask if they can take a few things out of the project scope to make it work for your budget. They may or may not be willing to work with you on this, but it’s best to just be upfront but also make sure you’re valuing their work.

Q: What should clients be checking for when reviewing a contract to be signed?

Lots 🙂 I know a lot of people get nervous about the word “contract,” but you want the designer you’re working with to have one. If they don’t, that’s a red flag. A contract doesn’t only protect your designer, but it also protects you in several different situations. This is what you want to look for:

  • What’s being delivered (aka project scope): you want it to be clear exactly what you’re getting for the cost of the project.
  • Payments and refunds: most designers take payments the same way (50% upfront, 50% before the project is considered done), but some have different policies. Some designers also have a late fee for final payments. As far as refunds go, you want to know what’s going to happen if the project is cancelled midway. Will you get your money back? How much?

Other things you want to know: office hours (aka when you can expect email responses from them), what happens if you want to add more work throughout the project, what happens if the project is delayed, who’s responsible for paying for premium fonts, if ongoing support and maintenance is included in your package, and what all you’re expected to do / provide for the project and when.

EM_Moodboard_FINALMoodboard by Kory Woodard for ember + march

Q: What are some indicators that premade/DIY designs aren’t working and it’s time to hire a designer?

Probably the best indicator is growth and more defined goals. I recommend DIY-ing your design when you’re just getting started because that’s when you don’t really know what to expect with your blog. You might now know how passionate you are about writing, how long you’ll actually end up blogging, and you’re still discovering what content you really enjoy sharing the most.

However, after about a year or two when you’ve proved to yourself that this is something you want to stick with, you’ve started to define your niche, and you’re getting serious for about your goals for your blog and brand in general, then it’s time to start looking for someone to work with you to create a more custom look for your brand that we help you get to where you want to be!

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Working with Kory on this project was a dream, and I hope everyone is so lucky as to have such an easy and worthwhile experience working with a designer.

My biggest pieces of advice for anyone looking to work with a designer are to do your research, be direct about your likes and dislikes, don’t oversaturate yourself with inspiration (create something original, not a dupe of someone else), and make sure you’re having fun in the process! It’s a stressful time for sure, creating something so important to you, but you should still enjoy the process!

If you’re working with or are thinking about working with a designer, what questions or tips do you have?

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  1. I couldn’t be happier with how your project turned out, Amber! I totally agree with your advice at the end of the post. I can only imagine how stressful it is to be on the client side of the project, but as long as you’re clear with your designer and truly having fun I think the project will turn out something you can truly be proud of!

    • Thanks for being so awesome to work with Kory! You truly brought my vision to life!

  2. I’ve admired Kory’s work for a little over a year now. It’s clean and modern. I love what she’s done to your site and I’m certainly glad to see you “live” again. I’m looking forward to more content.

    • Kory is so incredible to work with! I’m so happy to be back and cannot wait to share more content!

  3. I found your blog about a week and a half ago. It’s so fresh and I absolutely love it. Keep up the good work.

  4. This is such a hugely beneficial post for designers and clients! It can be a tough relationship but these question and answers will help both get what they want/need out of the project.

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