How to Speak Designer Like a Pro



Have you realized there is a often disconnect between what you want and what you get when working with a graphic designer?  There is a lot of technical jargon packaged up into graphic design work that often cause miscommunication and confusion.

Use these tips to appear smarter and help your designer avoid a big headache when you bring them a new project. Here are five need-to-knows when speaking designer. 

1) Know your file types.

So many file types, so little time!  Do you get confused by all the acronyms involved in file labeling and saving? Here’s a quick guide:

  • PDF: A file format that provides an electronic image of text and graphics. Can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted. Sometimes editable
  • JPEG: A compressed graphic format for an image file. Unable to edit
  • PNG: A compressed graphic format that can include a transparent background which helps make for crisp images on web. Unable to edit
  • GIF: A compressed graphic format for image files that supports both animated and static images. Unable to edit
  • Design Files: Have layers, include fonts, and can be edited.

Not every deliverable will need to be in the same file type. Be sure you know what file type you need your final project in before you ask for it.

2) Don’t forget the DPI.

DPI stands for Dots per Inch. The DPI ultimately controls if the image will appear blurry on the web or once printed.

There are certain technical rules to follow when working with web or print, so it’s important to let your designer know where the work will be seen once it’s finished. Web graphics or images typically need a lower DPI.

Print pieces typically need a higher DPI.


3) Colors, colors everywhere.

Colors are a lot more complicated in design world then Crayola will have you believe.

There are three properties of a color.

  • The hue, or the actual pigment of a color (the actual “color” of the color).
  • The value (the lightness or darkness of a color).
  • The saturation (the intensity of the hue).

Keep these properties in mind when working through color options with your designer. 

4) Keep your color codes straight.

There are color codes that are specific to different types of project use. CMYK and Pantone codes are for printing while RGB and HEX codes are for web. Here’s a rundown on each code.

  • CMYK– CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is a printing process. It’s made up of digital printing layers that when combined can make a wide spectrum of colors. 
  • Pantone– Pantone is a system for matching colors. Used for offset printing, Pantone colors are one flat hue (think spot color). 
  • RGB– RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is an additive color system in which red, green and blue light are added together in different ways to reproduce a wide spectrum of colors. RGB is used for web, television, and mobile devices. 
  • HEX– A hex color (hexadecimal) is a six-digit combination of numbers and letters that is basically shorthand for its RGB color code with a little conversion in between. A hex color is used for HTML and websites. 

Note that all of these color codes can be converted or switched into a different color code if need be (i.e.- CMYK can be converted into a Pantone color).

5) Know how to work with your designer.

Straight from our designer’s mouth, here are Designer Callie’s top three tips for working with a graphic designer.

  1. Watch out for low-res or small images. Double check the size of the image you are giving a designer to work with is big enough for the application they are applying it to.
  2. When sending images avoid dropping them into Word Docs. All images should be saved out separately if they are to be included in a design project. 
  3. Think about priorities. Not everything on the page or postcard can take center stage.  A great technique is numbering the items in the piece you are requesting in order of priority so that the designer can properly apply hierarchy and guide eye balls around the work purposefully.

We hope these tips create a better relationship with your designer, and of course better work!

Learn more about marketing, do better work, and retain clients! Click below to download the latest free offer from Hey Now! Media.


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