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Tips for Working with Non-Designers

November 19, 2013 / By AIGA

We can’t all be designers. ADG Creative’s Jon Barnes has some pointers on how to talk to those who clearly can’t speak our language.

Be prepared to clarify that “full bleed” is a not a reference to Braveheart. Just stuff your feelings and say, “it basically means borderless.”

Expect an awkward moment when you refer to a Pantone color with “PMS” still in the title.

It’s ok to call “registration marks” something like “alignment thingies” when in the presence of non-designers. Your designer friends will know in their hearts that you’re aware of the correct term.

If someone asks you why Photoshop calls it “dodge” and “burn,” tell them it was inspired by the film Starsky & Hutch.

Train yourself to avoid the phrase “typeface” when in the presence of non-designers. They’re probably thinking of a printing press. Accept this and just call it a “font.”

Realize that if you use comic sans ironically, everyone else will see it literally. Just stay away from it while you’re at work.

To non-designers, there are usually 2 options when it comes to a certain color. Try pointing at stuff to help a non-designer communicate their desired color… “Is it like that grass outside or more like that lime?”

Use a three-strikes-you’re-out rule when people ask, “Can you design something for me real quick?” Forgive them; they know not what they do.

When you say “stroke” they think “swimming.” Try using the term “outline” at first and then, when you have the opportunity, enlighten them that “stroke” is actually a thing.

If anyone asks you to design something to “look like iOS 7” tell them you’re going to need a new iPad to really nail the look. It might just work.

Whenever someone asks you to “make it more shiny”, just smile and nod. Later, when you’re alone and working in Photoshop, just make it brighter and add a gradient.

Jon Barnes is the Director of Communications for ADG Creative and a heck of a guy. Read more over at ADG’s blog, Brain Juice, including that one time when we all went and took a crash course in Letterpress.

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