What Used to Drive Me Nuts About Designers

by Bill Dotson

on September 22, 2009

in Articles

My first company was bootstrapped – which meant that I would use a number of contractors when I won a project. As time went on, the company grew and I hired full time designers, developers, and project managers. Through the course of my professional career, I’ve learned how to work with designers much more effectively. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned about working with designers.

Some Designers are Prima Donnas – I Now Avoid Them.

Most of the people I work with are down to earth, hardworking, and interested in the mutual success of those they work with. There are some who refuse to listen to feedback from others. Their designs are “perfect for the project” and if there is any constructive criticism the designer’s interest in the project ceases or diminishes so much that one had best look for a replacement.

The claim “we’re artists” made by some of these prima donnas is an attempt to explain to away their lack of talent. Honestly, how many of us work with Picasso or Michelangelo? Not many – most of the designs created today are re-hashed designs of other sites. There’s nothing wrong with this – nothing at all. Most buyers don’t need something absolutely unique – they need sometime that works. So, Mr/s Prima Donna, life is too short to work with you.

Avoiding Checklists and Reporting Status

It used to frustrate me that designers would not give accurate status updates on the progress of their work and would sometimes avoid items on a project’s checklist. While I still find the act of avoiding items on a checklist to be inexcusable, I’ve learned that the creative process is a difficult one and reporting status can be tough.

Tip for designers: create a checklist for your projects and refine it regularly. Follow through on this and you and your clients will be better off.

Having a Recurring Theme in All Your Work

A long internet time ago (about 10 years), we had internal designers and used some outside contractors. Over time, there was a recurring theme in each person’s work. As a manager, I failed to communicate the need for different designs and layouts. As designers, they failed to change according to market need and chose to manufacture instead of create.

Artists need a recurring theme – designers in a corporate or freelance environment do not.

This may seem contrary to my previous point, but there’s a balance between churning out the same designs over and over and creating new, interesting layouts as design themes change – a la Web 1.0 versus 2.0.

Showing Up at the Office on Time

This used to drive me nuts because I equated working hours with productive output. The amount of hours one works does not equal the quality or quantity of work product. So, what used to drive me nuts was my own problem. We no longer have set work or vacation schedules. We’re all adults and know what needs to be done to reach our personal and professional goals.

Being Responsive – as in “Call Me Back Today”

The designers I work with are not on planes all day or taking audience with the President. When the person calling you asks for a call back, they generally mean “today”. It’s implied and I think everyone knows that. Otherwise, they would say “when you get a chance” in their message.

So, when the designers don’t get back with me for a week, I finish the project we’re working on and never work with them again.

In Conclusion

I really enjoy working with other people. The creative process is my favorite part of the project and it’s great to have the right people on a team. No one wants to help someone grow up and understand what it means to be a professional while on a project.

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About Bill Dotson

Bill Dotson is owner of WebMedley, a web hosting and application development company with over 1,000 clients. For fun, Bill advises freelancers and small businesses on sales and growth strategies.