A friend of mine is in need of some graphic design work. I'm trying to explain to him that his make-me-something-like-X-but-different-approach is not a very good way to communicate his needs. We tried to write down some of the specifics that a graphic designer would need in order to limit the back & forth of "not getting it right"--but were limited by our own lack of visual-imagination (hence, why he needs a graphic designer).

What are some of the questions graphic designers need to know in order to begin working?

The project is a layout/character design for a mobile app game.

  • There's nothing wrong with "I like (this) and (this)." When discussing design work. It helps the designer understand your expectations.
    – Scott
    Jun 4, 2013 at 20:51
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    Really the only question needed is "what are your business objectives?" (or, rather, "what are you hoping to communicate?") Everything else stems from there.
    – DA01
    Jun 4, 2013 at 21:09
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    This question might be useful: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/2359/… Jun 4, 2013 at 21:36
  • I agree with DA01, the goals and objectives are the most important aspects that the designer needs to know all about. Not every aspect of a design is based on just this, but that's where the designer's creative mind has to play part.
    – paddotk
    Jun 12, 2013 at 13:10
  • If your friend is thinking in a make-me-something-like-X-but-different way like you describe, he needs to explode this thought into details: what does he like about X so much that makes him want something similar? This is what he'd want to communicate towards the designer.
    – paddotk
    Jun 12, 2013 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


You need a Creative Brief.

The graphic designer you approach should have one to give to you. Here are a number of topics to consider, though this is for large projects and some of the subjects may not apply for you:

Project Background

  • Who are you and what do we need to know about you?
    Give some background information on how this project came about.

  • What have you done in the past?
    Give a brief explanation of what you need from the graphic designer.

The Market

  • What are the current trends and challenges you're facing in your industry/ies?
  • What are your competitors doing?
    Provide information that you feel is relevant such as articles, reports or statistics.


  • What is the desired end result?

  • What do you want the target audience to do after this communication? Go on your website? Try out the product? Understand it better? Increase awareness of your brand?

  • Try to include some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-constrained) targets aswell, for example:

'Gain 500 Facebook likes by August' or 'Increase footfall by 5% this quarter'

Target Audience

  • Who is the intended target audience for this communication?
  • Can you imagine the type of person you are trying to reach out to?
  • How do they feel towards the market?
  • What are their attitudes towards the product/service?
  • How should they perceive your brand?


  • What is so great about the product/service?
  • What is the importance?
  • What is the most compelling and persuasive message that will encourage your audience to do what you want?
    Try to keep it as simple as possible and benefit-led.

Benefits and Support for the Proposition

  • How can you prove the proposition is true? (if applicable)
    Provide a short list of benefits that support the proposition, directly and indirectly.

The Offer

  • Is there anything else that will prompt your target audience to act?
  • If so, what? and how important is it..?


  • What's the first thing you want your intended audience to do on completion of this communication?
  • Go on the website? Give you a call? Buy your product/service? Book an appointment?

Tone of Voice

  • The mood of the design, how it should feel to the audience.
  • Ideally you should try to think of an analogy that has an identifiable personality consistent with what you want; a famous person; a car; a brand; whatever fits.

Brand Profile

  • What are the most important aspects of your brand?
  • What are your brand values, vision, character and personality?


  • What are the required outcomes from this project?
    A website, a poster?
  • What size should the poster be?
    Include your specific guidance or requests.


  • What MUST be included?
    Your logo, strapline, any legal information, T's & C's?
  • What constraints must be adhered to?
    Time? Budget? Colours? Formats?

Additional Information

  • Include any references, websites, info, guidelines, previously designed materials etc.

Round 1:

Hey John Doe, I need some (object) made by (date). Its to promote (product, event or service). I can offer (dollars). Are you interested?

Or you might wait to see if they're interested and then negotiate that last point but it still belongs in Round 1.

Round 2:

Great! Here's my (logo / branding) and the (copy). As you see in the branding we generally use (color/s).

Round 2 Fork A:

  • Here's also a (high/low resolution [depending on print or web]) photo to use.
  • I'm thinking an image of (something) would be good but don't have one. If you could find a stock or illustrate something I'll be happy to compensate the cost and your time.

Round 2 Fork B:

  • I'm looking for something that feels _(style such as modern, art deco, grungy, corporate etc...)
  • I'm not too sure what style works best but I'm not too picky. Roll with it.

Round 3

Round 3 Fork A:

  • Hey that looks great.
  • Hey that looks great but could we just try changing (some minor change)
  • Hmm, I'm just not feeling it. Could we try (See Round 2 Fork B Branch 1) and of course I'll compensate you since I realize this is a big change that wasn't really your fault.
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    Imagine if clients actually talked like that! "I'll be happy to compensate you", "I'm not too picky". Ahhh, heaven!
    – Yisela
    Jun 4, 2013 at 23:09
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    @Ryan: Thanks. So I guess what I'm hearing is "a vague idea will do". I imagined being as detailed as possible to avoid hearing descriptions like "pops" or "edgy" in round 3 see this cartoon. Jun 5, 2013 at 17:30
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    The reality is that cartoon is true and we're all used to it. As long as you pay us we could really care less if you take our recommendations and decide you want it your way anyways. When I go to the hair salon I tell the stylist just make sure I can wear it to the office but otherwise do whatever you want. At first she thought I was nuts but I just persisted and told her she's the pro, I'm paying her and not going to a barber because she knows better than me. Most people don't though. They think they're the specialist. As long as you pay us specialists we'll do whatever you want in reason.
    – Ryan
    Jun 6, 2013 at 1:11

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