The Process

If you’ve never worked with a designer before, you probably don’t know what to expect. And nobody likes surprises when they’re spending money.The key to a successful project is a consistent and proven process. It keeps the project organized, on-time, and gets all involved on the same page with the expectations and goals. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how this process works.

The Brief

A design brief is basically a written proposal of the project. It has nothing to do with visuals or design, and everything to to with business objectives, timelines, deliverables, payment, transfer of legal rights, and defining the roles of both designer and client. It’s a roadmap of what we’re trying to accomplish and the rules of how we get there.

After being contacted for a job, the designer will need to get information about the request – either through a face-to-face meeting, or through a questionnaire. It’s this information that is used to create the design brief. Once the brief is agreed upon, and both parties sign off on it, the fun begins.

Research

This is one of the most important parts of the process. Research can make or break a project – so much in fact, that I’ve made it a point to decline any projects proposed without time or budget for research. Without it, the designer cannot effectively do his or her job, and the client ultimately suffers.

In the research phase, the designer gathers information on the client’s industry, its history, the business, and their competitors. With this information we create a broad picture of who your are, what you do, what the competition is doing, their strengths and their weaknesses.

Visual Research

At this point in the process, we begin to deal with the actual visuals of the project. This is also sometimes referred to as the “exploration” phase, because it focuses on gathering resources to be used in establishing visual styles and aesthetics. For example, if the project was redesigning a hospital’s logo, part of the of the “exploration” phase would include researching visuals and stylistic conventions in the healthcare industry, weighing what works with what doesn’t.

Conceptualizing

This is where pen is put to paper, literally. With the brief and the research handy, it’s time to start sketching out concepts. We’re not looking for a bull’s eye right off the bat, but rather to generate as many ideas as possible, rejecting nothing and focusing on quantity rather than quality. The quality part comes next.

Reduction

Now that we have a multitude of sketches, ideas, and concepts developed, it’s time to look at them with a more critical eye. This phase involves one or several rounds of reducing the number of concepts, separating the good from the bad. After the winning concepts are decided on, they are further developed and refined.

Presentation

This phase in the process is fairly self-explanatory. With the best concept(s) further developed, it’s time for you and I to get together and discuss the concept(s). This is my chance to explain the design decisions I’ve made, why I made them, and why they work. We’ll look at the brief to evaluate whether or not the objectives and goals outlined within have been hit or miss. It’s at this stage where we either decide to proceed forward or make revisions to the concept(s).

Delivery

Congratulations, we have a winner. Now it’s time for me to hand it over to you. Once the invoice has been paid in full, the files are turned over to you in the format agreed upon in the design brief. At this point you own the rights to the work outlined in the brief. Hopefully, they’re kept safe, but since bad things can and do happen, a copy of the deliverables you receive are kept on file with me for a period of 1 year in case you lose your copy.