Cleaning Up the Design Process

by Jul 18, 2013Branding | Graphic Design, Marketing

Occasionally, I find myself months into a design project that was initially scheduled to be completed in weeks. This is obviously not an ideal position to be in, for the client or for me. Sometimes this delay is the result of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a family emergency, but other times it can be due to issues in the design and communication process.

It’s important to constantly evaluate and fine-tune the design process in order to make it as efficient as possible. I typically end up with the best results when I allow my clients to be a part of the process, but that requires a lot of careful editing and thoughtfulness on my end.

Here are a couple tips for streamlining the process when designing for clients.

Cut down on the number of variations.

I used to send between six and nine initial concepts for a logo design. After a while, I realized  this was too much for my clients to take in at once. They were either taking a really long time to get me feedback, or weren’t able to make any concrete decisions about the designs at all.

Several retail studies suggest customers are more likely to buy a certain product when there are fewer options to choose from. The same seems to be true in design. When I send my clients an overwhelming number of options, they sort of panic and aren’t happy with anything.

On the other hand, when I create that many first drafts, I’m rarely happy with all of them equally. I’ve been disappointed with the choice a client has made, when really I have only myself to blame because I sent a design I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. If you find yourself hoping your clients don’t pick a certain design, DON’T SEND IT! Quality over quantity in this case, and you can always send more options, but it’s much harder to take them away.

Decide on the number of revisions in advance.

Sending proofs and getting feedback fourteen times is usually a sign that the project has some issues. I think we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve struggled to edit ourselves and just kept thinking if we added something else it would be perfect. I personally end up looking back on those situations and taking things out or going back to a previous iteration.

Many times clients will want to keep going and going, but it’s the designer’s job to edit and condense everything to the best of our ability. It takes us years of practice knowing exactly when to stop, but it’s a valuable skill to have.

There’s no magic number for how many revisions a project should take, it all depends on the client and the goal, but getting in the habit of setting boundaries from the start will save everyone involved a lot of time and money.

Editor’s note: Another piece of advice… in order to clean up your design processes, you must start with a great foundation. I know we stress that a lot over here at the ‘Peg, but imagine trying to build a skyscraper on a mound of sand. It’s going to crumble right before your eyes. That seems to be a very common problem, especially when designers are just starting out, they want their designs to be instagram-pretty and behance-bespoke, but will creating something that’s well designed but not well thought out solve your client’s problem? Take your time at the beginning and really get to know your client, their needs, and the details of the project. Now, your client may be shy or not know (nor do they need to necessarily) the research and multi-angled approach it takes to create great and successful designs, but grab yourself a creative brief for your discovery phase and you’ll be heading in the right direction. Want to know more about the Discovery Phase in a web design project, then check out the More than a Few Words episode below.