Talking Design and Open-minded Clients With Digital Designer Elise Brooks
Digital designer Elise Brooks found herself navigating into design after flexing her creative skills in a fashion role that naturally developed into a new career path at a web design agency. Working as a freelance digital designer since 2017, Elise has worked on a variety of projects and gained some great experience along the way discovering what makes a project work well with clients.
We asked Elise to share her experiences as a freelancer so far, her advice for anyone considering bridging into digital design and how she felt being a finalist in the Freelancer Awards for 2021.
We asked Elise what elements she felt had worked particularly well on recent projects;
Understanding key features and elements before starting any project is so important. I always put together a proposal before starting, which is then signed by myself and the client. This includes the brief, project scope and quote. It is a great way to kick off the project, ensures that both parties are on the same page and is useful to refer back to throughout.
Elise also emphasises the importance of good communication for every project;
Ongoing design catch up calls are always really helpful. Email is great but making the time for a call can be really beneficial for both you and the client. It’s a great way to check in with where the project is at, answer any questions as well as communicate updates and milestones.
With communication in mind, we then asked Elise how clients can better prepare themselves for working with digital designers in the future to help things run smoothly for both freelancer and client;
Be really clear on what you want to achieve. A list of core functionality and must haves is key. References to refer to back to are also really helpful and are a great way to explain what you're looking for.
Working within such a creative field as digital design is, it can be difficult sparking creativity all the time particularly when working remotely through a pandemic. We asked Elise how she personally flexes her creative muscles to help keep her passion for design alive;
I make sure I research across different types of design. Even though I focus on the digital design side that doesn’t mean inspiration can’t be taken from print, packaging etc. There’s so much out there to be inspired by - the research part of a project is what motivates me to get started.
When it comes to balancing personal preferences with client expectations for design it can be a tricky compromise which Elise handles by listening closely to the client’s needs;
Listen to what the client wants while also putting forward suggestions and solutions, as really, that’s what you’re there for!
As with most collaborative projects, there needs to be an element of compromise too which Elise feels is essential for clients to remember;
It's important to trust the design process and be open minded that the outcome may look different to what you originally had in mind. As the designer, it helps to articulate why something looks better a certain way and the reasoning behind your design choices. I will often mock up two versions, one version exactly as the client requested and the other with my suggestions, then jump on a quick call to compare the two and discuss why the design choices have been made.
Having naturally progressed from a world of fashion into digital design, we asked Elise what advice she’d give for fellow freelancers looking to broaden their skillset and expand their offerings;
Focus on a small set of skills and be really good at them rather than spread yourself too thinly across lots of different avenues. There are so many amazing freelancers out there that you can collaborate with if needed.
Elise also recommends anyone looking to branch out on more projects to;
Keep your website updated and make sure your latest projects are on there. If you get a testimonial from a client that you can showcase, even better. I’ve found LinkedIn to be an important tool too. When you’re starting out, be open to taking on the ‘less shiny’ projects, focus on gaining the experience and working out who you are as a freelancer while building up your portfolio.
We then asked Elise what the best piece of advice she’d been given so far as a digital designer, to which she shared;
How important it is to outline a clear scope of work, milestones and deadlines before getting started. It means the project can run smoothly while you focus on the design side of things.
As design work is often open to constructive feedback, we asked Elise how she personally handles feedback on her work;
Take it as an opportunity to learn rather than taking it personally and ask questions if you’re unsure, listen and take onboard what’s being said.
And finally, we asked Elise how she felt learning she’d become a finalist in the 2021 Freelancer Awards;
An absolutely lovely surprise! Very flattered to be part of it!
If you’d like to work with Elise on your next design project, why not book her here today.