19 Sep Get what you want when communicating with creatives

Story ByJeff S.
Illustration ByErika H.

We get it – design, marketing and branding is our world not yours, so we don’t expect you to know all the jargon. That said, if you take a little time to learn the basics of our language, we can probably get closer to the results you want, faster!

Creatives do their best to read between the lines to understand what you want and what you mean – even when you’re not sure yourself. If you’ve got particularly specific needs, however, you may want to arm yourself with communication strategies to help get the most from your design team. Here are a few from the Modicum team:

Provide specific feedback. 

Creatives use your feedback to help create the best possible work, and to most closely match the idea you have in your head of the final product. Providing specific feedback as often as you can will help reach this end result.

When you receive drafts, take the time to review them thoroughly and then discuss what you like and dislike with your creative team during the revision process. Avoid vague feedback, such as describing a draft as “good” or “bad” or citing lack of “wow factor.” Instead, try to approach feedback sessions by looking at individual components and asking yourself, “what’s working for me and what’s not?”

Use examples.

Whether from your company, a competitor, or another industry entirely, using examples from other work can help translate a message that may be difficult to communicate verbally (or in an email). 

For example, to see some world-class web design inspiration, visit Awwwards. This website curates beautifully designed websites, animations, slideshows, and other projects.

Pinterest is always a great resource for browsing a wide-range of designs. Plus, it’s easy to save the things you like from anywhere on the web and share with your creative team.

You can also flip through design blogs like Muzli or magazines like Communication Arts for fresh creative ideas.

Or, you can always just do some internet stalking of your personal favorite brands.

Again, it’s important to be specific about which elements you like and which you dislike in the examples you provide. 

In addition to helping you communicate your wants and needs to your creative team, using examples may also help you narrow down what you like if you’re unsure. 

Ask about project logistics.

Sometimes a task that you think is a quick fix really is a quick fix. However, often times, something that may seem like it would be easily tweaked actually requires a lot of hours and resources. One great example is small copy or design modifications to a website that has already entered the development phase – we can make the changes, but they’re neither quick nor easy.

Our creatives will always do their best to fit in additional tasks for you as quickly as possible, but asking for a time and resource estimate is more polite and effective than making assumptions. Designers are accustomed to giving estimates and should be able to provide you with a fairly accurate idea of when you can expect to have a final product in your hands. 

This communication avoids putting a designer in an uncomfortable position and ensures that all parties are clear on timelines. 

Use the right language.

Like any industry, creative work has an extensive list of jargon used amongst agency teams to describe the work. We try our hardest to speak in plain English to help you understand the process, but sometimes the technical language helps us all get on the same page. We pulled a few of our favorites from Buffer’s extensive list of 52 terms and definitions

Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy describes the system for prioritizing text on a page, allowing the reader to easily find what they’re looking for and navigate the content. We pay close attention to how readers’ eyes will follow the content and use that to tell a prioritized story. A visual hierarchy makes use of differentiated headlines, sub-headings, and body copy to make content easier to read.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a guideline that creatives use for aligning the subject of a design. The rule splits images/designs into a three by three grid, where the prime focal areas land where the lines of the grid intersect. This is why you will often see a design or image where the subject is not featured dead center. When it comes to placement, there is a method to our madness!

User Experience Design (“UX design”)

User experience refers to the journey a person takes to process multimedia – where their eyes go, where they anticipate finding what they’re looking for, and what actions they take in response. It’s often used in regard to websites and apps, but it also applies to products and physical spaces.


Broadly, this term means focusing on how the end user will interact with whatever you’re creating, but as the subject of enormous amounts of research, there are also many proven best practices that your creatives will keep in mind. For example, a user should be able to find anything they need on your website in three clicks or less.


The resolution of an image is the clearness and crispness, or quality, of an image. The higher the resolution of an image, the higher its quality, and vice-versa. The resolution of an image depends on its file type. A raster image is made up of pixels, so stretching the image reduces its resolution. A .jpg is an example of a raster image. On the other hand, a vector image is made up of points, lines, and curves. It’s basically a visual algorithm, so it can be scaled to any size without loss of resolution. .Eps and .svp are examples of vector image file types.

It’s okay to just trust your creative team.

For some elements of a project, you may truly not know what you want or what would be best for the work’s look and feel. That’s okay! Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the decisions to be made, that’s why we’re here. Just make sure to let your creative team know clearly if you’d prefer to let them exercise their creative judgment to solve your problem.

At Modicum, our goal is to work the way you like to work. We’re here to flex your needs and be the best possible partner we can be. 

Ready to chat?

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