Design and culture website PRINT Magazine shared an article on how organisations can optimise their partnerships with design firms. Written by Lynda Decker, a designer who works primarily with law firms, the advice covered in this article is universally applicable.

Decker starts by noting that a good partnership begins with making sure you’ve selected the right design agency to work with – and we agree. At Novagram, we invite our potential clients to ask lots of questions, and we always provide thorough and detailed proposals to help people make the choice that is right for them. This way, our clients can be confident that the work we deliver will meet their expectations and support their strategy. As Decker writes, a good design agency needs to go beyond aesthetics.

Design must actively convey your unique difference.

Without a distinct strategy to guide it, design is simply a series of aesthetic choices grounded in nothing more than personal preferences. It’s beautiful but directionless — a shiny new boat without a rudder.

Having chosen an agency that can achieve this, you’ll want the design process to go as smoothly as possible. This starts with communication. Here are Decker’s three design communication pitfalls to avoid:

1. Vague, subjective feedback

If your design firm presents your team with work that you don’t like—let’s just say you were expecting something different. Don’t respond by saying, “I just don’t like it.” Or “it’s not sophisticated enough.” Remember, words like sophistication and all other subjective adjectives — are in the eye of the beholder.

Instead, explain what sophistication means to you, and attempt to tie those qualities to what you are (or are not) seeing. Just make sure that whatever subjective quality you are asking your design firm to achieve aligns with your strategy.

We devote time, care, and patience to ensure that we properly understand exactly what our clients are looking for. While it’s true that a higher level of feedback is always useful, listening and communicating carefully in the early stages of each project usually allows us to get things right the first time.

2. Prescribing the solution rather than defining the problem

A seasoned strategic design team is trained to uncover creative solutions to clients’ problems. If you try to dictate specific solutions to your design firm, they won’t have the space to find the best possible design solutions.

When it comes to branding, design, and websites, we are here to do the work for you. For that reason, we’ll take on the task of finding the specific solutions that you need. We’ll keep your goals in mind, and strive to deliver work that is conducive to the results you’re aiming to achieve.

For example, if a visual element doesn’t stand out enough, don’t just say, “make it bigger.” Instead, get more specific about the problem. In this case, do you just want the element to be given more emphasis? If so, explain that. There are many ways to produce greater visual emphasis. With a clearly stated problem to work from, your design firm can offer the best solutions.

We make sure to do our research, listen to our clients, and understand the context of the design problem they’re facing. We try to gather as much information as possible, drawing on even the smallest details to produce outstanding results.

3. Failing to provide holistic feedback

Your feedback is crucial. But if you fail to provide holistic feedback, your design firm won’t be able to truly address your concerns.

How well does the design express your strategic goals? If it misses the mark, can you explain to your designer why that is? Think holistically when delivering your feedback. The more you do this, the better your results will be — and the faster your design team will arrive at the right solutions.

Keeping the project goal in mind helps to keep the design work on track, however we understand that a certain level of agility is required in all projects. For example, we’re able to present work that meets the initial brief, and then modify this with small changes as necessary. This allows us to ensure the final product is something our client loves. Of course, the more detailed the feedback is during our initial presentation of work, the more quickly we can deliver the final design

The right design process facilitates the right kind of communication.

At Novagram, our tried-and-tested process guides every project we undertake. This process has been honed over many years and includes regular communication with our clients throughout the project. This is part of what allows us to consistently deliver such high-quality results.

So, if you’re looking for a design agency that knows how to communicate – let’s talk.

We are Novagram, a UK creative agency
specialising in branding, design and digital development