Design Discussion Keeps Projects On Track!

Hey designers! I want to take a minute to think about what consistently derails our design projects. My guess is that it’s often a failure to deliver exactly what’s needed in order to get the project done in a timely manner. But, if we dig a little deeper, I think we might find that it’s actually a failure in the way we go about the design discussion.

Smart and consistent design discussions with your client is the BEST way to keep projects on track, on time and on budget!

If you don’t know what you want, how can your designer?

Let me share a little known fact. No matter how savvy your chosen design or social business consultant, and some of us are pretty ding-danged savvy, none of us are omniscient or omnipotent.

omniscient
[om-nish-uh nt]

adjective
1. having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.

omnipotent
[om-nip-uh-tuh nt]

adjective
1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
2.having very great or unlimited authority or power.

We can’t create something from nothing. We can’t read your mind. Your ideas aren’t shared via osmosis.Click To Tweet

Just as any web or graphic designer has to go into a proposed project with a plan, a detailed accounting of proposed costs, products, services and expected outcomes, you – the prospective client, need to do some prep and planning before any designer can tackle your project.

Though we designers consider ourselves fairly awesome and amazing, we can’t pluck your favorite color out of thin air. And, believe it or not, unless you tell us we aren’t going to know about your aversion to small-caps font families.

Design Discussion Must: Content First, Then Create!

It’s the client’s job to provide the designer with the necessary bits of information and needed files/documents/images. Though it’s not often talked about, few designers can deliver on a design without access to all the content said design will house.

Design without content CANNOT showcase what it is that makes your brand or business stand out!Click To Tweet

Filler programs like lorem ipsum will work in a pinch for a paragraph here or there, but delivery of the content the design is meant to surround is key to a project going as planned.

Providing your designer with the following helps ensure your design projects don’t derail:

  1. Your logo – don’t expect them to scrape it off your existing web site or scan it off your business card. Provide a high resolution copy, preferably in its native format.

  2. Your company fonts. Don’t make your designer guess or find the closest match. Send them the correct files to work with from the get-go, or, at the very least, the name of the typeface. And expect to reimburse your designer if they have to purchase it.

  3. Examples of designs you like and don’t like, along with the why. Again, your designer isn’t a mind reader. You don’t want him/her to imitate a type treatment when the design element you liked was actually the color scheme, do you?

  4. Any special considerations. Do you need to incorporate audio files, video, an extensive PDF collection. Do you have custom scripts? Do you need a blog?

  5. Any and all EXISTING content. This includes images, video, audio files, or the links to these files on platforms like Youtube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc. Don’t make your designer reinvent the wheel and don’t make them search for links and accounts. If you’re in the midst of a redesign, consider sprucing up your existing content and deliver it in a timely fashion.

  6. Feedback. Don’t let your designer keep on keeping on if you’re not satisfied or you feel like the direction is no longer correct. Better to make changes/adjustments early in the project than to have to make major adjustments at project conclusion.

Design Discussion: Converse, Collaborate & Commiserate …

All projects are a two-way street. And design discussions aren’t always full of unicorns and candy-coated cupcakes. Sometimes the discussion will have to point out what’s not working.

The design discussion will only go smoothly if you have the same end destination in mind. If design projects are undertaken with two different end goals, you are setting yourself up for mistakes, ineffective use of time and an end project that doesn’t meet your needs. And you’re setting your designer up to fail when it comes to delivering their best work.

A good designer listens, chimes in when he/she feels you might be missing a vital point, and works with you. For the relationship to produce the best results, you need to be a proactive part of the project.

Design Discussion Keeps Projects On Track!

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2 replies
  1. Kittie
    Kittie says:

    As a member of the design/development community, I found myself nodding sagely along with the content of this post.

    We explain time and again why it’s important to have all the information and content upfront and yet it always seems to be a stumbling block. I cover it on calls, via email, on the blog and in the project timeline. I’m searching for some new analogies to really make it hit home.

    Feedback is another big issue. You know me I’m all for open and frank discussion because nothing moves successfully forward without it, but as far as feedback is concerned a lot of people seem to be conditioned, by society, to be nice and not say what they feel. It takes a lot of probing to get to the heart of the matter. But maybe that probing process, whilst time consuming, is how it should be.

    You’re on a roll! Making me think while drinking my first coffee of the day.

    Reply
    • Mallie Hart
      Mallie Hart says:

      Oh no. So much pressure. Can I keep publishing stuff that will get you to comment? LOL.

      I’m in the middle of a project where the content is dribbling in, and it’s making me want to pull my hair out. This means I’m really unable to lay out any page completely and it’s driving me nuts! It’s not the best way to engage in a creative endeavor.

      As for feedback. I think you can share the real without hurting the feels.

      Reply

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