A typical design process
Here is a rough outline and a few pointers for new designers when fixing your design process. Every project can have it’s own challenges but here is a typical guide that maybe useful to follow…
Getting the client.
An email or message comes in. Look for red flags, making sure that you’re going to work well together. Respond with a thank you and ask to meet up, a call or if you can ask them some questions.
Outlining the project with your client.
Once you’ve both established that you’re a good fit, you need to set a game plan. What is the project going to look like. Plan this with the client and get them involved in the process, make them have a say. They’ll feel like it’s their project too. Once everything is in place and you’ve set out the working terms/contracts or agreement. How much you’re getting paid and any deadlines you can move onto the research.
Find out as much as you can about the client when meeting them and then after. Watch videos, read their blogs and website. Understand their company and how it works. Visit their offices. Put yourself in their shoes.
Look at previous branding and print materials, colours, company values, competition, competitions branding. What they have done in the past and where they want to go in the future.
With the research and looking at competitors we’re looking for a POD, point of differentiation, something that sets the client in front or away from the competitors. This maybe something to utilise in the final outcome.
Understand their clients/target audience - what they do, where they are, how much they earn. Who are you designing for?
The research is the most important bit when it comes to the project and creating a symbol that defines the company. If the research has been done properly then the final outcome will be stronger. It will come from a genuine understanding of the brand. Also if you’re really trying to understand what they do it will give the client a lot more confidence in you.
This is the start of the creativity. Getting all of the ideas down onto paper. Good, bad or ugly. They may become useful in the future. Just writing out anything that could play a part in the outcome.
To generate ideas you could use word association, mind maps, focus groups, role play, venn diagrams or other methods.
This comes just after the brainstorm, now we’re thinking about how the ideas and research looks in the outcome. Again, it’s good to sketch anything that comes into your mind as it may become useful.
This should be quite a free flowing part of the process, lots of ideas down on paper.
You can start to take a route and evolve some of the sketches, combine ideas, make it a really free and exciting part. We need all of the ideas down so that we have as many routes open as possible.
Building the Design
Now you can start to look down one of these routes. Building upon a sketch/idea from before. Iteration upon iteration. Thinking about what the client wants and what the consumer needs. How will it look in this style, with curves or stripes, or outlined. Still on paper until you get to a point that it’s a strong enough route to take onto the computer.
On a computer you’ll start to build it up. start off in black and white, copy and pasting as you make each change. Leaving the artboard with all of the different styles, ideas and progressions. This is great to do as you can see where the design started and finished. It’s not only nice to look back on but it’s handy to have all of the process incase you with to go with something from earlier.
Top Tip. Remember that you’ve got a brief and you’re designing for the audience rather than the your portfolio.
Presenting and Refining the Work
It’s important to keep the client involved throughout the hole process. Share the direction and thinking behind it with them. This way you’ll know if they like it. But also if you need to go down another route or make some early changes.
When presenting the chosen route be sure to use mockups to bring it to life. This will help the client get a better understanding of how it will work in real life.
It’s really important to communicate the meaning and features of the outcome. The best way of doing this maybe a video presentation. Not just a PDF in an email. How about giving them a video with audio of you explaining why and what the outcome includes.
Changes and revisions will most likely happen. The process with these needs to be clear. I would give the client 2 clear rounds of revisions. Really make sure that they take time to think over any feedback. They should already know how many rounds of revisions they’re getting from before. So explain to the client that this is the time to make changes.
After the 2 rounds are up then it’s time to charge by the hour or a set fee for extra revisions.
Once they’ve agreed on the outcome then you can charge the final percentage of the project fee. Making sure that you get paid before sending over the final useable files.
Putting the Design Into Production
Congratulations you’re ready to put the design into the real world. Ideally you’ll help the client in this stage too. This will make sure that the client uses the work in the correct way.
I’ve had clients in the past take something and use it in a way that I wouldn’t be happy with, it then looked cheap. I put this on me, it’s my responsibility to show how the design should work.
Maybe you need to source a few printing companies to get their materials created. This is great as you can have control over the final product. Working with the printer to get it exactly how it should be.
If you’re doing this extra work and haven’t factored it into the cost, I recommend adding 20-30% on to the printing costs and charging this to the client. Otherwise you’ll lose out.
Hope this has helped you get an understanding of a typical designers process. As you become a better designer you’ll find certain ways of doing things benefit you better than others. It’s a flexible process that each designer uses differently.
If you learnt anything new please do like this video, leave us some feedback or any questions. Thanks.