When working with a designer, its often easy to fall into set patterns or expectations of how a relationship will unfold during a project. Knowing what motivates the designer on your team goes a long way toward getting the results you want. Here are a few things that the motivate the designers we know.
We're Visual Translators
First of all, it's not about the money. Sure, designers care about making money just like everyone else— but we aren't going to sell our soul to get it. Many designers thrive on the thrill of creating a visual language out of abstract concepts. In fact, when it comes down to it, we're visual translators.
We're Right Brain/Left Brain
We want to exercise both our right and left brain. Sometimes designers are not too orderly in their approach to solving problems (we prefer to think of it as organized chaos). The truth is, the brain doesn't work in a linear fashion when its piecing together creative solutions. It doesn't mean we're not deadline-driven, it's just that when a design project is timeboxed, the results will reflect that.
Work with designers to channel energy that can stimulate follow through for other critical tasks. To give both the right and left brain a good workout, help designers bucket time into "project structure" time and "creative thinking" time. At ZURB, we occasionally require designers to write a business email that lays out the intent of their work before we actually start designing.
We Skip the Politics
Okay, let's be honest. Sometimes designers are a bit lazy— the path of least resistance is just fine with us. Just because you highlight the way you want something done, that doesn't mean we're automatically going to approach the problem your way. On the other hand, it doesn't mean the objectives have changed either. Political bureaucracy isn't going to encourage designers to create magic— in fact it saps their energy and keeps them from driving ideas forward. If that's lazy, so be it for a designer.
Finally, we just love our pixels. Vanity is a designer's weakness, but it's also a trait you can use to your benefit if you give a designer ownership of his work. Visuals have sex appeal whether there is meaning or not and designers love this control. Just realize that power can be channeled with proper goals and vision so be sure to provide this structure for designers.
Each designer has his own set of motivators. Understanding the particulars and how to address them will go a long way toward keeping your designer happy and prolific.