design resources

How to give honest feedback without frustrating your designer

You’ve chosen your designer, you’ve briefed them on your needs, reached an agreement on terms, and you’re eager to see what they’ve come up! Then, their name lands in your inbox along with the much anticipated attachments – but then you click to find that...they’re not quite what you were after. Now what?

If you do it right, giving feedback won’t be perceived as negative. In fact, it’s an important part of the design process – and it’s something that your designer is anticipating. But giving feedback in an unproductive way can lead to an overall unproductive relationship between you and the creative you hired. 

As designers, we’re here to let you know that we’re used to feedback – we even enjoy it because it helps us do our job better. But, it can be frustrating when clients are constantly giving you negative feedback and not giving you the information you need to do your job properly. 

It’s easy for miscommunications to happen – especially if you’ve never worked with a designer before. But with just a few small tweaks to your approach we believe you can communicate with your designer better than ever – and land on a superb final product! 
 

How to give honest feedback to your designer  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 

Step back and ask questions

Before mindlessly shooting off negative feedback, take some time to marinate on what they sent you. Let them know you received the proofs and are putting together some notes. Then, go through the examples and guidelines you provided your designer. What varies from what you asked for? What’s in line with what you asked for (even if it’s not your favorite)? 

Put together a list of questions to better understand where your designer is coming from. The answers to your questions may change your mind on a certain concept or help you distinguish the direction you want to go. 

Creating an open dialogue will go a long way in helping you both understand each other’s point of view. 

 

Be professional, calm and controlled

We know it can be hard to stay calm when you feel like a project isn’t going right – but like any other professional situation it’s important to stay calm. Keep your communication -- whether it’s over the phone or on email – calm and clear is key. Be sure to politely explain why what they’ve produced isn’t quite up your alley.

Just saying “I don’t like it,” “it’s not what I asked for,” or “it’s not for me” isn’t constructive, and it doesn’t give your designer a fair chance to fix it. So, be as specific as you can so that they can understand what does and doesn’t work. That way they’ll be able to take your feedback and turn it into a stronger second draft. 

If you can, show them examples of the kind of thing you dolike from other organizations, so that they have a solid idea of the kind of design they need to be working toward. 

 

Explaining the why

When you’re highlighting elements of a project you’re not quite keen on, explaining the why is super important. Whether it’s because it goes against the guidelines you sent them, it’s too similar to what you’ve done in the past (and found to be ineffective), or it aligns too closely with one of your major competitors, give them a bit of context to help them understand the thinking behind your rationale.

Keep in mind, your designer has probably spent a lot of time on what you’re seeing – if you don’t like it, there was clearly a miscommunication – and it’s on both of you to fix it!

 

Keep it in perspective

Perfection takes time. Just because they didn’t deliver exactly what you wanted the first time around, don’t hold it against them, patronize, or start micro-managing them. You hired a designer because you don’t know how to do it yourself – so stand back and let them do their work. Keep in mind they are an expert at what they do – just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not quality work. 

Their job is to bring your vision to life. Your job is to equip them with the information they need to understand your vision.

 

Put your personal preference to one side

When you’re critiquing their work, remember that design is often a personal preference. Be sure to separate your personal taste from your brand image. A designer might be able to see the bigger picture in a way you can’t – so just because it doesn’t connect with you doesn’t mean it won’t connect with your target demographic. The taste of your audience is probably going to be different than yours, so be sure to talk through your designer’s rationale before shooting down a concept – they might know something you don’t.
 


Balance negatives with positives

It’s the old compliment sandwich trick. And this tip isn’t just to make them feel better! As we touched on earlier, the positives will help them really get a feel for what you dolike so that they can keep developing quality concepts. 

If there really aren’t any positives, you can still be complimentary about their work, but just be clear that it’s not right for your brand or this particular project. If this is the case, be crystal clear you’d like to see a totally new direction – don’t try to sugar coat it too much or they probably won’t realize that what they showed you is a complete wash. 

 

Keep in mind what you agreed too 

Be conscientious of when you’re asking to go above and beyond the terms of your contract. If you agreed to three rounds of revisions, you may need to pay an additional fee to go beyond that. 

Both parties of this contract are on equal footing – it’s not an employee/employer relationship. 

You can’t expect free revisions just because you don’t like something. If they’ve met the terms of the contract and you still don’t have something you like you may need to renegotiate. Keep in mind the contract is in place to protect both parties. 

Checking in on time and expectations can go a long way in demonstrating that you respect a designer’s time. It’s a great way to show you value their work, even if you haven’t come to a final product yet. 

 

Remember...

Rome wasn’t built in a day -- if you want a rushed job, give a rushed timeframe. It’s important you give your designer time to go back to the drawing board and really take everything in you’ve said so that you can keep working toward a high quality final product. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Your creative team

Let us help you get your project designed right! We're ready to communicate with you on your marketing needs -- whether they're big or small. To take a look at what we've done in the past, be sure to check out our design portfolio. Don't see the type of samples you're looking for? Get in touch, we can email you additional work samples! 

The Big List of Business Tools

Whether you’re starting a new business, turning over a new leaf, or just looking to streamline your current venture, you’re facing about a million (rough estimate) challenges at all times. But the good news is that for almost every problem you face there’s an app that’s here to make your life easier. And, to make things even easier, we’ve gone ahead and cut out the research process by compiling this list of essential business apps.

If you’re looking to streamline your marketing, finance, or internal communication efforts we’ve got an app for you!

 

Financial Tools

Keeping up with your finances can be one of the least fun parts about owning your business -- and, if you’re not careful, it can be one of the most time consuming.

MileIQ: Need to track your miles for tax purposes? The MilelQ app logs all of your drives and allows you to easily swipe left or right to categorize drives as work or personal.

Float: This cash flow forecasting app allows you to better predict the financial future of your company.

Quickbooks: Chances are, you’ve heard of Quickbooks. It’s accounting software specifically built for small business -- it’s essential for tracking your income, sending invoices, and managing your expenses.

Square: One of the easiest ways to accept chip + magstripe cards, Square is an app that pairs with a (free) card reader. It’s one of the easiest ways to accept POS payment!

PayPal: Send, accept, and request money with this online payment system. It connects with your bank account, and your information is secure and protected.
 

 

Marketing Tools

Now that we have your finances in place, we need to get you some new customers. These marketing tools will help you communicate effectively through every medium.

Hootsuite: Struggling to manage all of your social sites efficiently? Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your accounts one one screen. You can also schedule out your social media posts for multiple platforms at once, and track the results.

MailChimp: MailChimp is a cheap and easy email marketing platform that allows you to communicate with your customers. You can integrate the sign-up on your website to effortlessly collect email addresses, create branded templates, and send easily-trackable campaigns. If you want to learn more, check out our series on the benefits and basics of using MailChimp (here and here).

Canva: While we’re always in favor of bringing in a pro, we understand that sometimes you just need a quick fix. Canva is an easy app that allows you to create graphics for your business. There’s free templates for social media graphics, flyers, and more.

Hubspot: Hubspot’s a powerful inbound marketing software that helps you create powerful marketing materials, gather information, and convert leads into sales. It includes all the tools you need to market your business -- but may feel a little overwhelming for beginners.

Buzzsumo: Find out what your consumers really want! Buzzsumo helps you research your target audience so that you can ensure you’re spending time on the right content for your business.

 

Organization Tools

Organizing a team is no small task -- but luckily some of the best tools out there are meant to help you effectively manage your crew. Don’t count these tools out even if your business team only consists of just you! Project management apps can help you keep client work or new business initiatives intuitively organized.

17hats: Perfect for all the solopreneurs out there, 17hats cuts out the need for multiple apps. It simplifies everything and lets you keep track of your clients, projects, to do lists, calendar, workflow, templates and everything else all in one place.

Asana: If you’ve got a big team, Asana is the app for you. You can easily manage and assign tasks to different projects and teams. It cuts down on the need for unnecessary meetings and allows you to manage all of your to-do’s in one place.

Basecamp: A great alternative to Asana, Basecamp allows you to manage projects with a team. While Asana is our personal preference, the best thing to do is test out both apps for free and see what you prefer.

Evernote: A giant digital notebook, Evernote allows you to stay organized. You can store everything from big ideas to random musings in different digital notebooks. Add in images, audio, scanned documents, and files to keep everything organized. You can even forward emails to the different notebooks to keep everything in one place.

Wunderlist: Have a long to-do list? Wunderlist is a task management tool with a simple interface. It syncs to all of your devices so that you can easily check things off throughout the day.

Pocket: Ever spend hours looking for a link and wished you’d saved it? Pocket can help. Save everything and anything you come across on the web so that you can view it later.

IFTTT: An acronym for “If This Then That” this is a free web app that lets user automate web-based tasks. A little confused about what that means? That’s because it does almost anything!


 

Productivity Tools

It’s hard to stay on task when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These tools will help you keep your day-to-day routine on track!

30/30: A super simple task manager, this app guides you to work for 30 minutes/break for 30 minutes. It’s as simple as that!

FocusZen: Carefully engineered audio teaches your mind to block out all distractions and allow for maximum focus. The app also has timers for 10, 25, or 60 minutes of peace.

Spark: Emails can be a pain, especially unnecessary ones. This app collects and categorizes all of your emails so that they’re easy to process.

Slack: Slack is a cloud based messaging tool that promises to make you less busy by streamlining team communication.

RescueTime: RescueTime runs in the background to help you understand where your time goes from day-to-day. You can block distracting websites, set alerts for when you spend a certain amount of time on a task, and log highlights about what you accomplished.

Toggl: A ridiculously simple time tracker, Toggl lets you track your time per task so that you can recognize and improve it.

 

Misc

Google Apps: One of our personal obsessions, Google Apps are a powerful tool. You can create documents that are easily shareable, store files, comment on shared documents, and sooooooo much more. You can edit a document live with your team -- and it all syncs to your Drive. And -- purchasing an additional 100GB of extra space to store all your files starts at only $1.99 a month!

Skype: Have a remote client? Meet virtually with Skype and have a face-to-face conversation via your laptop or mobile device.

LastPass: Keep all of your passwords in one place with this password management app.

SignNow: A safe and effective way to get e-signatures in seconds from any device (for a very reasonable cost).

BidSketch: Use this tool to easily mix and match fees, projects, and conditions to create professional client proposals.

SurveyMonkey: Conduct free surveys and analyze the results with SurveyMonkey. With over 15 question types, you can easily gather information.



Don't be afraid to test out these different apps and see what works best for you -- finding just one tool that you love can make a big difference in your day-to-day efficiency! 

Tell us: which of these tools are you most eager to try? 

Friday Links: Mega Roundup

Happy first day of July!

We’re making a few changes to our blogging schedule, so for our last Friday Links we’ve rounded up a mega-list of some of the best resources we’ve shared over the last few months. From now on, we’ll be posting a long-format entry every Wednesday. With topics ranging from design and marketing to tips and tricks, each post will be an in-depth look at a different topic each week.

So, without further adieu, here’s our final Friday Links:

 

Design Links

One | 10 Commandments of graphic design  

Two | Introductory guide to choosing fonts

Three | How to utilize an inspiration board to design a consistent brand

Four | 15 Type Designers to keep an eye on

Five | An interview with Michael Bierut, Designer at Pentagram

 

Social Media Links

One | How to be social online (for the naturally unsocial)

Two | 10 Years of Twitter: Tweets that broke the Internet

Three |Essential LinkedIn Stats: When, how, and what to post

Four | 5 Habits of Successful Social Media Experts

Five | 9 Tips to create a cohesive, branded Instagram feed

 

Branding/ Marketing Links

One | The basics of marketing your blog or website

Two | Working with email marketing automation

Three | 12 Simple strategies the big brands use to leave a lasting impression

Four | Stand out on Pinterest as a small business

Five | More branding basics for small businesses

 

Miscellaneous Links

One | Website color schemes: The palettes of 50 visually impactful websites to inspire you

Two | The 6 best tools for creative work, according to science

Three | Free hand-lettering practice worksheets

Four | Why you should use Squarespace

Five | The best of Greensboro

We hope you’ve enjoyed this last Friday link post… but now it’s time to get excited for the future! We’ll be back on Wednesday with a list of SEO dos + don’ts that you don’t need a web developer to execute.

Going to miss our Friday Links series? No need to worry, we’ll be sharing more valuable resources than ever on our social media. Follow us here:

10 Pinterest Boards to Spark Design Inspiration

If you think Pinterest is just a site to find cooking recipes, think again!  Think of Pinterest as a site where at the click of a search button, you can find any and everything you’re looking for.  It's perfect for wardrobe tips, photo styling, and design inspiration (of course)!  We love to use Pinterest whenever we get stuck or need a little boost of creativity.

Need your own boost? We’ve picked out our top 10 Pinterest boards to spark design inspiration:

What boards do we need to be following? Leave a comment!

Spotlight: Favorite Design Blogs

Working for yourself is not the same as working by yourself -- it takes a ton of meaningful connections with smart, creative people to make it happen. I'm all about in-person connections, but blogging provides a powerful way to learn from people all over who are walking a road similar to yours. 

With that in mind, today I wanted to share a few of my favorite design blogs! check these out if you're looking for new bloggers to follow. And, while you're at it, let's be blog friends. Follow Hue & Tone on Bloglovin'

1. Braid Creative 

The ladies of Braid Creative -- who obviously nailed the search for a fabulous name -- share smart, easily applicable tips on branding, entrepreneurship, and all things creative. 

Favorite Post: When Everyone is Doing the Same Thing

2. Paper & Oats 

Kelsey of Paper & Oats puts a bold, personal spin on posts about productivity and entrepreneurship, and is unapologetic about finding and sticking to her own creative niche. 

Favorite Post: Why I'm Scrapping All My Design Services 

3. Elembee 

When it comes to blogs about nitty-gritty topics like branding and design, there's fun and then there's comprehensive. Elembee is both. It's jam-packed with ideas but never a chore to read -- and the weekly emails are great, too! 

Favorite Post: It Will Never Be Good Enough. Do it Anyway. 

4. Love Plus Color

In addition to a clean, colorful blog design that makes my day every time I see it, Love Plus Color is a great stop for unique, easy-to-consume posts on all things visual. 

Favorite Post: The Mood Board Monday series

What are your favorite blogs? Bonus points if they focus on design, branding, or entrepreneurship.  

Friday links: simple icons, presentation design and your business story

Hello Friday, once again! I'm looking forward to wrapping up work for the week and welcoming some friends to town for a visit. 

Hope you are looking forward to something fun over the weekend as well -- but until that happens, here are some links to get you through the rest of the work week.  

One | We'll start this week's roundup with a resource: this set of minimal social icons. Not too much, just enough. 

Two | Looking to create a logo? Here's a good set of tips -- accessible without being too basic. 

Three | These adorable black and gold patterns (my alma mater's colors!) are 100% free.

Four | Something a little different: a crash course in presentation design

Five | Veering away from design into business...and a topic I've thought about a lot: how to blend your personal story into your brand/business story.  

That's it for this week! Have a fabulous weekend and I'll see you again on Tuesday.  

Hue & Tone Favorites: Free (or cheap) graphic design resources

Hue & Tone Favorites: Free (or cheap) graphic design resources -- Hue & Tone Creative

At first glance, design seems expensive. You have to buy $300 fonts and high-end photography equipment and expensive suites of software if you're going to create anything attractive, right? 

Actually, not really. I try to communicate to clients that there are plenty of free and cheap resources available to help them maintain a consistent brand, without pulling in a designer for every edit. 

Here are a few of my favorites: 

DaFont & Google Fonts | In almost every case, it's unnecessary to drop top dollar on type. These are two great sources for free fonts - DaFont is hugely varied and frequently updated, while Google Fonts is your best source for a clean, high-quality web font.

Canva | This web app bills itself as "the easiest design program in the world" -- and it's completely free. When I'm working with clients who don't have access to professional design software, I'll whip up a few Canva templates so they can update graphics easily.

Graphic Burger | Need a simple line icon (or a background texture, or even a logo template)? It's here, and it's free for personal and commercial use. 

Creative Market | This site offers free or very cheap (in the $2 range) graphic assets -- think textures, brushes, presets, etc. Sign up for an account to receive regular emails with deals and free downloads. 

Adobe Single-App Subscriptions | You can now purchase a single-app Adobe Creative Cloud membership for as little as $30 a month, giving you access to a professional-grade design application like Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Illustrator, but it all depends on the type of work you're doing.

Again, design can seem like an expensive pursuit, but with a little creativity, you can find the tools you need without breaking the bank.

What are your favorite design tools? Let me know in the comments below.