Top 5 Things You Should Never Ever Ask a Designer

Hopefully you’ve learned by now when to use ‘design’ in a sentence. And the various design roles as well as the differences between the various design roles.

With that said, there’s a certain etiquette in talking with a designer.

We’re humans after all, just like you. While we love to collaborate with anyone/everyone on developing extraordinary designs for brands, products, advertising, etc., we can only take so much. So we kindly ask that you never ever ever ask us these five things…


#5. Can you provide 10-15 variations of this design?

What this sounds like to designers: “We have a really hard time making up our minds and are generally impossible to work with.”

Designer response: “Absolutely not.”

animated - too many options

This is never a good idea. Mainly because we’ve tried this approach in working with non-designers before, and it never ends well.

First, you’re overcome by the endless design options. Next, you start requesting that designers combine multiple options to create new options. And it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

It’s much easier to start with detailed requirements/needs, and then develop 1 or 2 design options to discuss and iterate as necessary. This limits the options and focuses the stakeholders on refining of existing options rather than the creation of new options.


#4. Can you make it look like this other design?

What this sounds like to designers: “We obviously don’t trust your skills enough to understand our requirements and develop a great design.”

Designer response: “I can, but I’d rather eat glass.”

animated - neverending design.gif

Great designers will never copy an existing design. It’s basically cheating. The designers who do the best work will always want to focus on creating something beautifully original. And while providing examples helps to inform the creative process, it doesn’t benefit anyone to just copy an existing design.


#3. Can you mock this up really quick?

What this sounds like to designers: “I have zero appreciation for your talent and/or skills and want you to provide a hot pile of crap asap!”

Designer response: “You can pick any two of these three things: fast, good, cheap.”

img - fast good cheap

This is like asking a barber to cut your hair in 10 seconds. Or asking a chef to prepare a gourmet meal in 20 minutes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s always best to provide the requirements to the designer of what you need and then ask how long it will take. And no, it’s not a negotiation.


#2. Can You Make it Pop?

What this sounds like to designers: “Let’s use some awful design techniques to attract more attention to our website, like really bright colors and flashing lights so it POPS!!!”

Designer response: “Sure (adds dancing unicorns to the design).”

animated - make it pop

Yeah, don’t do that. Ever.

Same is true for other vague descriptors like “edgy,” “modern,” or “fancy.” We obviously can’t read your mind. So be specific. Use words. And pictures. And sketches. Anything to help explain your concept.


#1. Can You Make This Look Pretty?

What this sounds like to designers: “Hi, I’m totally clueless and I don’t know any other adjectives that describe what I actually need in this design.”

Designer response: “Buh bye.”

img - make this look pretty

Seriously, this has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. And it happens… all. the. damn. time.

Again, try using your brain. If that’s not an option, try asking the designer to help you through the creative process. We’re here to help (mostly)… when we’re not busy drawing awesome dinosaurs.

img - dinosaur


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