Communication Guide: Collaborating with Designers

People are becoming more dependent on the power of visuals to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and intrigue their customers. Oftentimes, people will hire designers because they want to make something “look good” or “look better.” However, there is more than what meets the eye — design is not only about how something looks, it’s about how it works. Design is problem-solving. It’s important to work with designers so that your ideas are being effectively translated.


“Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.” -Erik Adigard


Here are some tips on how to better collaborate with a designer/design team:


Understand the role they play
If you are working (or plan to work) with one, you should know that the designer does more than just make something “look pretty.” They design with functionality and usability in mind. They also play an important role in how customers perceive your brand.


Have an open seat for them at the table
Having the designer as part of the conversation early on is vital to producing a great end product. This is where they will gather requirements and understand your needs. The more information, the better. The designer will ask questions from their creative perspective that may not have crossed the minds of others.


Give constructive feedback
Give feedback! Designers love feedback. Finding a creative solution is a process, and feedback plays a critical role in that process. Constructive feedback expresses your feelings and concerns with reasons. Understanding why users feel or act a certain way is how designers will ultimately get to a solution.

Image credit: Studio — JQ

Trust them
Let the designer be your problem solver. Once you have identified the issues you are facing, trust their design decisions to solve for them. For example, instead of trying to manipulate the design experience with your own ideas (“Could you make the button bigger and brighter?”), explain the problem and trust their creativity to come up with the solution.

Knowing how to collaborate with a designer — whether it be someone on your company’s team or a freelancer — will ultimately help you create something magical as your end-result.

Khuram Zaman

Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a leading digital agency serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area based out of the 1776 Startup Co-working Space. In his professional capacity, he has provided digital marketing services to clients as diverse as the Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Oxfam America, Ernst and Young, and The Hult Prize. His writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and Business2Community. Khuram is the host of the Campfire: Impact and Innovation live podcast on Youtube. In his free-time, Khuram serves as a mentor to startups through the Peace Tech Accelerator, the Halycon Incubator, and is also a Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University