Call Today

Mon – Fri, 8am to 5pm

When Design Jargon Hurts Communication

You can tell when someone has been in the design industry for a while, when they start throwing around design terminology more than regular words. Now, I understand that when designers are talking to other designers, we should use the proper terminology. It just makes sense, and it cuts down on miscommunication in the workplace. However, design jargon, just as any other industry specific jargon, has its place. It’s important to remember to use common terminology when speaking with clients. There are several reasons for avoid design jargon, which I’ll cover in this post.

Design jargon

You Lose Your Connection With your Client

Your client is most likely a small business owner that just wants a great solution to their design problem. When you use terminology they don’t understand, it not only makes them feel inferior, but it makes it difficult to connect with them on a personal level. Above all, your business is business, but I find that when I connect peter personally with a client, I deliver better work. It’s not because I can’t handle personal matters or anything to do with professionalism. It is because you understand a client and where they’re coming from better when you connect with them better. You understand them better, and they open up to you more, which usually ends up in a more successful design, and a stronger solution that delivers what they truly envisioned for their business.

You’re Not Impressing Them

No one cares that you can use all of the words from a Graphic Design glossary. You aren’t going t win an AIGA Medal for using all of those words when you’re in meetings with clients. You don’t win a million dollars once you’ve reached the 10000 word mark. Use basic terms that clients can understand. If you have to use graphic design specific terminology, explain what it means directly after using it. For example, don’t say that something doesn’t have enough bleed, and then not explain what bleed is. Explain to them what bleed is, and why it is important to the printing process. Your clients aren’t idiots, but it is your job to educate them and walk them through the process.

You’re Complicating the Experience

It is scary to go to a design agency or a freelancer and commission work to be done. People are afraid of being taken advantage of, or that it’s going to be super-expensive. Using all those words without an explanation is only complicating matters for the client. It’s our job to calm the fears or our clients and put their minds at ease about the whole process. Clients will love you and will be more likely to come back if you’ve guided them through the experience. This works much better than strapping them in and taking them for a wild ride into the unknown. Guiding them through the process add value to your services, and it’s just plain good business!

You’re Being Condescending & Inconsiderate

If you have an ego or an inferiority complex, leave it at home. People don’t like being talked down to. Graphic designers already have a bad name in the sense that some people posing as designers has taken people’s money and given them garbage in return. Don’t make it worse by speaking to clients like they are privileged to hear you speak. You’re supposed to work closely with clients to deliver a solution for their business which makes their business more successful.


Design jargon has its place among fellow designers. However, when working with clients, it is important for them to understand the design process, so they can understand the value of your work. Designers would be more appreciated as a whole if designers to the time to educate clients and gently guide them through the process. Everything would be a lot less scary for them, and designer/client relationships would be much better. What do you think? I’d love to hear what you have to say about this. please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.