My good friend Jeff Fisher somehow time-leaped into the future and posted The proper care and feeding of the in-house graphic designer. He has an excellent start, but I’d suggest a few contributions:
11. Ask Questions.
Many times, miscommunication about a project stems from the designer and her client speaking two different languages. Don’t be afraid to ask your designer how they came up with the ideas they did based upon the result you receive. As long as you are open and receptive, there is no reason why a conversation about the final result won’t result in better work later on (and a better understanding of your designer’s abilities).
12. Be Specific.
Closely related to numbers 5 and 7, if you have specific criteria for a project, state them as clearly and openly as you can. All the information in the world won’t make a difference if you wanted apples and got oranges.
13. Learn About You (From a Design Perspective)
Let’s face it – getting people to talk about themselves or their work can lead to a gold mine of information and better interpersonal relationships. Get your designer to talk to you once in a while about the trends she sees in your industry, the kinds of things that she thinks can be improved about your work, and pretty much anything else. An excellent relationship with your designer now pays back in spades later.
Sometimes the sad reality of lists like this is that designers have to "train" people to think this way. Beware – such activity may indicate that your designer will be leaving before you know it! Designers like to be in places where they fit in, are provided plenty of nourishment, and are, in general, proud of the work they do and proud of their company.
Something I tell people who are considering hiring a designer is to shop around a bit for a best fit. A designer who is thoughtful and intuitive but often quiet won’t do well in a company full of loud, boisterous employees. Consider not only portfolio work but how that designer interacts with her environment. Following all these recipes should make for a happy experience for all involved!