Be kind to your visual designer

Be kind to your visual designer

I don’t normally like to write “rant” posts, but today I need to vent. 🙂 I’m currently in the middle of a really complicated project with my primary client, and as much as I enjoy working with those folks on a daily basis, they are slowly driving me mad. It’s been eating away at me for some time now, and this entire experience has made me start to think about how visual designers are often the most abused members of any creative design team. It’s something I’ve personally experienced since I started with my first job back in the late 90’s, and it’s also something I’ve seen my peers struggle with as well.

Why is it so much fun to poop on the visual designers?

The exact scenarios are always different from client to client, but the issue I’m facing now is that I’m being asked to solve an incredible amount of creative visual problems within very short timeframes. To make matters worse, the requirements are constantly changing so I’m having to redo the same work over and over – which really hurts after staying up late at night trying to finish concepts, only to have them made irrelevant by last-minute changes that come first thing the next morning. It’s maddening!

This particular client has the mentality that being busy is necessary for success, and that nothing is ever finished until the very last second before it’s shipped out the door. They work blindingly fast towards self-imposed super-tight deadlines, and I’m stuck in the middle of all that. Non-creatives don’t really understand how much effort goes into creating something visually perfect, and it’s very difficult to be creative when trying to race the clock. Every single day over the past few months has felt like a non-stop emergency from sunrise to sunset, so to say that I’m a bit frustrated with the process is a bit of an understatement.

With this frustration rattling around in my brain, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer some friendly advice to all you busy-body project managers out there who have visual designers on your team.

The consequences of working with a frustrated visual designer:

  • It can be detrimental to your product or brand. They are the ones that are creating the customer-facing assets that define your business, so if you aren’t protecting them and keeping them satisfied they won’t be willing to go the extra mile to design an award-winning solution for you.
  • The word will spread that you are difficult to work with. We visual designers are a gossipy, well-connected bunch. It blows me away how often I run into other designers who know someone I used to work with way back when, and we usually have a lot of fun talking about the things we’ve done and the companies we worked for. It really is a small world…
  • You won’t be able to retain top talent. I’ve worked side by side with a great number of visual designers over the years, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that most don’t put up with overly-demanding clients. Working in a high-pressure environment is not good for anyone’s creativity, and designers thrive on being left alone (and given time) to do what they do best.

Despite how frustrated (and blunt) I may sound, writing out my thoughts like this helps to purge that negativity so I can focus on the positive. The client of mine who inspired this post knows my stance on this issue, and I am happy to say that they have admitted to being difficult. Whether they change their ways or not is yet to be seen, but keeping the lines of communication open is certainly a step in the right direction.

Thanks for letting me vent. Now back to work…

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