5 Design Related Phrases I Secretly Don't Like

I’ve been a designer since I knew what design was. That means I’ve experienced my fair share of comments and interactions when it comes to the design world. I’ve heard things all over the spectrum, from client comments to watching silly trends from other designers. Below are my least favorite phrases I’ve encountered.


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“Can we make the logo bigger?”

A better phrase: “Is my headline saying what it needs to be saying?”

Trust me when I say that when I deliver a site design or product, the logo is already situated exactly as big as I think it needs to be. I have been designing logos and websites for going on seven full years, and not once have I delivered a logo that I think is too small.

A lot of times when clients ask for their logo to be bigger, it’s a huge sign of insecurity in their brand or that they’re worried their content won’t be enough to grab the user. Focusing on actual content and saying something meaningful is what will bring clients in far more than making your logo giant.

Trust me, users can see your logo. Can they see what you’re really trying to say, though?


“Graphic Designer”

A better phrase: Brand Designer. Web Designer. Designer.

I had to take a pause and a deep breath before I could continue writing this one. I’m not usually a stickler for titles. I’m just as happy with “web designer” as I am just "designer.” Freelance versus self-employed? I’m fine with either.

But “graphic designer?” Nothing makes me think of the 90s when we were all sitting around on our dial-up, trying to push pixels to make a website that could even try to compare with Space Jam’s. Thing is, these days, design is so much more than the phrase “graphic.” It’s web, it’s print, it’s UX/UI.

The phrase honestly makes me feel smaller than the scope and potential of what I have to offer. I was a graphic designer in college, interchanged with junior designer, and that’s how it makes me feel. Graphic designers do small art requests. I do brand and strategy. To me, the divide is vast.

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“I asked ______ and they said….”

A better phrase: “When asking my network, I got ____ feedback. Can we discuss this?”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for opinions. In fact, most logos and designs I do, I ask a pool of my friends (hello, squad) and my husband and my sister. These are people who are used to seeing my design work and are being objective because they don’t know the client and have absolutely no skin in the game.

But, when clients turn to their significant others for feedback, I have no way of knowing how they framed it. Designs are subjective and emotional when they should be a bit more analytical. I don’t know if that person knew it was a first round of logos, hates the color blue, or was thinking in a specific mindset that I was.

Let me also ask you this, clients: if your SO was going to have that much say-so, why didn’t they help you do the research / vision boarding in the beginning?


Anything related to SEO

A better phrase: “I’ve read about search engine optimization and I have time to explore ways to boost it, so let’s do it!”

This is is mostly because it’s a limitation of the services I offer and a bigger box than people realize. SEO is an overarching term meaning search engine optimization, or how your rankings on Google are doing. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for magically getting to the top of the search results unless you have paid advertising. I mostly hate the term because it’s like saying “How do I market my brand?” I don’t know, I’m just the designer.

Marketing, social media, SEO - these are all things that fall outside the scope and range of what design really is.

SEO takes work, and unless clients are prepared to roll up their sleeves and put in the work it takes (blogging, researching relevant keywords, updating their services and content) then I can’t help them.

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“Retro / Vintage / Old School”

A better phrase: “Who am I, really?”

This one’s for other designers - clients, you get a break!

Design and fashion fall into cycles. Right now high waisted shorts and jumpsuits are swinging back into style in a huge way, and that’s nothing new to the design world. So when I see current logo trends that are identifying as “classic” and “retro,” and harkening back to a vintage era on purpose, it always makes me roll my eyes. Fifty years from now, today will be retro. Unless your brand is going to have ideals and messaging that draw from the aesthetic of the era, there’s no reason your logo needs to be “retro.”


So there you have it. Five arbitrary phrases of things I don’t enjoy in the design world. Most of them go back to true content and why your messaging is key, far over brand.

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