Redundancy is something every graphic designer is aware of. There are things they repeatedly do in their jobs. While starting-out designers may not think about it so much initially, they begin to realize there is a pattern in the jobs they complete, as they progress.
If you’re a designer who has already done a few jobs, I’m sure you already understand what I mean. If not, I’m glad I’m going to make you think about this important aspect of your profession and how you should understand the gripping theory behind it. Lots of important pointers here! So, let’s start the discussion. We will not only discuss, although in brief, what these redundant bits are – and what they make design itself – but also whether you should be religiously following everything they result in.
Design – A Processed Art
What you should understand at this point is these repeated bits of your design jobs are not a nuisance. If anything, they are a blessing, because if you can identify the steps you’ll need to take with every job, you can greatly increase the efficiency of your design jobs. However, before we delve into this discussion, let’s first list what these steps could be, so we’re all on the same page.
Let’s take an example of a simple scenario. You receive an email from a prospect who is intrigued by your work and wants to acquire your designing services. Joyful news. You tell them it’d be your pleasure and send them your design brief to get all the necessary information about the job. They fill it up and email it back. You study the details, make your estimates, and negotiate prices and deadlines. Now, you start working on the job and deliver the design they asked for. A day later, you get a request for a couple of minor changes in the design, which you attend to and deliver. Job well done! (And I wish it were always this simple).
Now, let’s list the various steps you had to take to finish the job.
- Contact: the prospect got in touch with you. This is going to happen with every job. You are marketing your skills out there and people will hear about you. Without contact, there is no job, and prospects make contact 9 out of 10 times; there could only be exceptional occasions when you approach a prospect (like sending proposal to an ad).
- Job Description: you collected the description of the job, including the objectives of the client and how they want the design to look like. You have to send a design brief to every new client because everyone’s unique with different choices, needs, and preferences. You can’t decide the cost and deadline of a design without knowing its specifics.
- Negotiations: you came up with the cost and price needed to create the design and negotiate it with your client.Pricing and deadline negotiation is the meat and potatoes of every business deal. You can’t run away from it if you want to be a successful freelancer. Being a self-employed graphic designer, you must learn the art of convincing your client into believing you’re asking for the right price and time – just what they need to pay for having the design of their choice.
- Delivery: once finished up with the requested design, you delivered it through a proper channel to the customer. The customer wants the design for some use – of course, so you must know the format compliant with that kind of usage and should send the design accordingly.
- Revisions: your prospect looked through the design, pointed out some needed changes, and you revised the design until its final approval. Clients are difficult to satisfy: in more than 90% cases, they come up with a request of some minor or major changes. If acceptable, you make those changes and send back the work to the client for final approval. Even after this second round of designing, there are chances of some further revision requests until your client is finally satisfied with the design.
Systematizing the Design Process
These steps, with some variations, turn up in almost all design processes involving a client. Having a strategy and a system developed for these steps can save you plenty of time and can make your work more organized. You won’t have to plan a design scheme from square one for every new project once you have systematized your basic design process. Let’s dig a little deeper to understand how systematizing the design process can help you yield good results:
- Systematizing the Contact Stage: having a defined medium of communication between you and your potential client can develop a hurdle-free contact between you two. You can use multiple communication systems like phone call, email, online chat, fax, in-person meeting, but it’s best to be focused on only one or two mediums unless you have a customer service department at your disposal. If you are the only one giving replies, email is the best way to be in touch with your current and would-be clients.Select a time of the day for answering your emails so the connection remains unbroken.
- Systematizing the Job Description Stage: have a pre-defined set of questions to be asked from the prospects. Make sure you cover all bases and nokey information is missed out. It’ll save you from rethinking the questions and developing a design brief from scratch for each prospect. This equals saving not only plenty of time but also a lot of brain work.
- Systematizing the Negotiation Stage: time and cost of a design depend on multiple factors. If you develop a formula to calculate the price and deadline, you won’t have to spend days in negotiating with your prospects. All they have to do is to fill in the factors in your shared formula, do some calculation, and find out the estimated price and time needed for their required design. Not only will your time be saved but your clients won’t feel skeptical toward the quoted prices. They’ll be aware you are charging them in accordance to their requirements. If they have a limited budget or time, they themselves will make changes on their side of the equation to reach at the desired deadline or price.
- Systematizing the Delivery Stage: it’s always better to inform your customer of when and how the work will be delivered so you won’t have to face any problem at the end. You should know beforehand the types of file formatsneeded to be delivered as well as the sizes of the designs. Make sure you have the applications to develop those formats and sizes.
- Systematizing the Revisions Stage: this is the most arbitrary step of design process and is obviously the most difficult to systematize. You can’t predict what changes your client may want, how big or small they will be, and how many times you’ll have to revise to reach the final design. Yet systematizing this part is very important. With anexpressed revision policy of what changes are acceptable and what not and a pre-set questionnaire for understanding your client’sconcerns and objections, you can make the revision stage much less painful and can save yourself from recurring revisions.
Be Ordered but Flexible:
While following your systematized design process, be strict in order but flexible in approach. By strictness in order I mean you should follow all steps sequentially. I would never suggest you to start designing before research. Similarly, you should not deliver any design before finalizing the price.
However, the methods you select for systematizing your process areopen to change. You don’t need to stick to email contact – ifyour client feels more comfortable in verbal communication and wants to talk to you on phone. There is no harm in changing your revision policies, if you feelit can make you learn something new or will let you win a long-term relationship with your prospect.
Uniqueness is the beauty of art and designs. Don’t let the process stop you from discovering your uniqueness. Always have an open mind for new possibilities and be ready to try something fresh.
So, what do you do? What is your process? Are you strict?, Share your thoughts with us.