If you work in the PR industry, whether at an agency or otherwise, it’s likely that you have worked on a project with a graphic designer. With all the talk of DPI, glyphs and hexadecimal codes, did it feel like they were speaking another language? There may not be a Babel fish that translates design speak to PR terminology, but it is possible to understand what in the world designers are talking about. To better communicate with the designers on your team and produce the best possible design piece for your client, here are a few things designers wish you knew.
- Not all file types are created equal.
You’re probably familiar with file extensions like .docx and .pptx (which are Word and PowerPoint files, respectively). In the design realm, there are lots of different file extensions that are created by specific programs, for specific purposes. Here are some file types designers may ask you for:.ai – File created in Adobe Illustrator, usually for illustrations and scalable graphics like logos
.psd – File created in Adobe Photoshop, typically photo illustrations and mock ups
.indd – File created Adobe InDesign, usually for print layouts
.eps – A scalable graphics file, often made in Adobe Illustrator but compatible with other programs
.png – An image file with the ability to have a transparent background
.jpg – An image file with a flat white background
.gif – A low-resolution image file with the ability to be animated
- Just because the picture is from Google Images doesn’t mean its fair game.
Because we have the Internet at our fingertips, it’s easy to immediately turn to Google when searching for an image for a design piece. Type in a few key words and find the perfect graphic, save it to your desktop, and you’re good to go, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, due to usage rights put in place to protect photographers and other creatives, you could very well be stealing or plagiarizing those images. If you do want to use Google to help find free images, click Search Tools and use the Usage rights drop down menu to select Labeled for reuse, which means the images don’t require attribution or payment in order to be used. Otherwise, try looking at paid stock photo sites such as iStock or Getty Images to avoid any infringements.
- An image that looks good on your screen isn’t necessarily print quality.
When looking for images to be included in a project, designers will tell you that it’s important to use a high-resolution image. Generally, there are two types of images: those meant for the digital space, and those meant for print. Digital images, especially for websites, don’t need to be very large files in order to look clear (in fact, it’s usually best practice to use as small a file as possible, so that pages don’t take a long time to load). In contrast, when it comes to print images, the larger the file the better. If you can provide images that are 1 MB in size or larger, your designer will thank you.
- Creativity isn’t always quick and easy.
If you’ve ever stared at a blank page for an extended period of time trying to craft the perfect headline for an article, then you know how hard creativity can be. For designers, most great ideas don’t pop up out of the blue, but often require brainstorming and research. When you start a creative project for a client, be sure to get your designer involved as early in the process as possible. Give them time to think things through rather than expecting them to be creative on a short timeline later.
- “Make it look nice” isn’t great creative direction…
Tell a designer to make something look nice (or, heaven forbid, “snazzy”) and there is a good chance they will be beating their head against their desk the second you leave the room. “Nice” is a relative term: “nice” invitations to a child’s birthday party and a “nice” billboard for a jewelry company have two very different looks. To avoid causing head injuries, use words you might use to describe art or home decor: classic, mid-century modern, retro, grunge-inspired, etc. The more specific you can be, the better chance your designer will be able to create the type of piece you are envisioning.
- … and neither is “but it worked for Apple/Nike/Google.”
Trust me, designers know that big companies like Apple have great design. They would love to be doing design at that level. But those are multi-billion dollar companies that have accumulated decades of brand equity – and chances are your client doesn’t have that level of familiarity with the public. Clients and their audiences are unique, and what worked for one company won’t necessarily work for another. Your designer will be glad to see your sources of inspiration, but then work with them to create something custom to your client rather than a big-brand knock-off.
Last but not least, if you’re unsure what a designer is talking about, just ask! Most designers would love a chance to explain what they’re doing, and would rather you be informed about design so both of your jobs are easier.