For a designer, talking and sharing ideas is just as important as creating them. There are two ways designers talk to the world. The first way is through the designs themselves. This is called ‘aesthetic communication‘, and it’s all about giving messages in a quiet, indirect, and creative way.
The second way is when designers need to chat about work stuff, like projects and contracts. This is ‘professional communication‘. It’s straightforward, a bit more complicated, and usually involves talking or writing directly.
I’ve seen designers from all over really focus on making their design communication better. They work hard to make sure they can speak ‘design’ really well through their work.
But, when it comes to the work chats, even the super talented designers can get tongue-tied. No matter what kind of designs you make, you can’t ignore how key it is to talk effectively in business.
This is especially true for freelance designers. If you work for yourself, you’re the one who has to talk to customers, suppliers, and other designers.
So, for all my designer friends who find chatting about work tough, here are some handy Communication Tips for Designers to help you get better at it.
1. Choosing the Right Medium is Key
When we communicate, how we do it is super important. Designers these days do it across various medium, from emails, social media like Facebook and X, to phone calls, and even text messages!
To keep things clear, pick the way that works best for you and stick with it. This means not jumping around between different ways all the time.
Also, try to keep your personal contact stuff separate from work stuff.
For example, if email is your go-to way to communicate for work, make a different email just for that. It helps everyone know the best way to get hold of you, and it keeps your chats tidy.
2. Establish a Communication Pattern
Just like you need a routine to get things done, you need one for talking effectively, too. Set up a plan for how you’ll communicate and tell the people you’re chatting with about it right from the start.
Your communication plan might cover things like how you’ll greet the person, how quickly you’ll reply, how quickly they should reply, and what to do if you need to use another way to talk. Letting people know your plan ahead of time helps avoid any mix-ups.
3. Keep a Written Record
Showing you’re a pro means writing things down. For designers juggling many clients and tasks, taking notes keeps chats clear and organized. Write down things like contact info, meeting details, what money is owed, and feedback from clients.
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If you’re emailing a lot, a good tip is to keep all your chats in one email chain. That way, if there’s ever a problem, you’ve got all the details in one place.
Stick to one email chain for each topic or project. It makes it super easy to review what you and your client have talked about.
4. Be Polite in Your Communication
Good manners are super important when you’re talking to someone. This is true no matter how you’re chatting – speaking, writing, or emailing. Designers, especially, need to be polite when talking business.
Sure, clients can sometimes be a handful and not so nice. But keeping cool and polite is part of talking effectively.
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Since I’ve been talking a lot about emails, remember to follow Netiquettes – the do’s and don’ts of email. Simple words like “Please” and “Thank You” might not seem like much, but they mean a lot and make you look good.
Before you send an email, take a moment to make sure it’s well-written. Double-check it and even switch around the parts to make it clearer.
5. Steer Clear of Too Much Design Lingo
Designers, when deep in work, might start to speak in their own language filled with technical terms. That’s fine when talking to other design experts, but with clients, try to keep it simple. Remember, not everyone understands design talk, so explain things in a way that anyone can grasp.
And if you really need to use some design-speak, just add a quick explanation in brackets. It helps everyone follow along.
Wrapping It Up
Many creative types find talking about their work in a professional way a bit tricky, and that includes designers. But it’s not as tough as it might seem. Just by paying a little more attention to how you explain things, any designer can become great at chatting about their work. This leads to better relationships and even better projects.