Wayfarer Wisdom: Tips for Briefing A Design Project

An illustrated skull. Skull reads "Wayfarer Wisdom" denoting series title

The key to successfully completing a visual project begins and ends with effective communication. This is extra important when it comes to the initial briefing of the design project. As part of the design crew here at VSSL, I’ve come up with five simple tips that will improve communication and help you safely navigate through the waters of a design project.

1- Specs

The first thing you want to convey to your designer is how your final design, concept, or deliverable will be used. Do you plan to have something printed, and if so what is the desired size? Is the project intended for digital or web use? What is the timeline for this project? It’s important for you to outline these small details before any work begins, because it may ultimately end up saving you time (and money).

2- Visual aids

Sometimes words aren’t enough to convey a thought. You may have the idea in your head but don’t have the right words to describe it. This is where visual aids can come in handy. One of the most helpful things you can provide a graphic designer is a sketch or example of what you hope to achieve. Even a post-it note with chicken scratch can be enough to get the creative juices flowing. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can also save you from having to use those thousand words.

3- Narrative

Contrary to popular belief, graphic designers can’t read minds. Even with visual aids, it’s important to convey your creative vision to your designer. When explaining your project, try to use emotive words to describe how you want the design to look. If you’re trying to elicit a reaction, what kind? How do you want your audience to feel about the design you’re showing them? The effectiveness of the narrative, more than anything, can make or break a visual campaign.

4- Feedback

You got your first proof back from your designer, but you’re not getting that warm and fuzzy feeling. You have to give feedback but aren’t sure where to start. My advice would be to start simple. If something doesn’t feel right, describe how it is making you feel and why that’s not the reaction you were hoping to invoke. Keep in mind that design is a process, and feedback is an important part of that process. The more genuine and concise your critiques are the easier it will be to reach the desired outcome.

Remember that the perfect design won’t always happen the first time around. You may feel frustrated that your vision isn’t being conceptualized the way you’d hoped. We want to arrive at the final outcome just as much as you do, so it’s important to trust in the process and be patient that the final outcome will be achieved. Hopefully, these tips will help you develop a strong briefing for you next design project and steer clear of rough winds and treacherous waters when dealing with your graphic designer.

Hear from VSSL Graphic Designer, Geoff West about briefing a design project by checking out his episode of Wayfarer Wisdom on our IGTV feed.

To view the entire Wayfarer Wisdom series, click here.