Process is not for Pansies

July 24, 2013 amywaggs No comments

Have you ever realized at the last minute that you were supposed to bake a cake for little Timmy’s school fundraiser or you were supposed to make a dessert for a party tonight? Did you grab your recipe card and decide to skip a few ingredients and only bake it for a few minutes instead of the instructed time? I’ll bet your answer is yes to the first question and a resounding NO to the second question! Why would your answer be “no” to the second question? Wouldn’t that save time?



Why do you follow a recipe exactly from start to finish without skipping, adjusting or modifying the steps? You may look at a recipe card as just a recipe, but I look at it as a process. Start with this, then do this, then voila! You have a good looking, perfect and tasty treat.

Graphic design, as many of you know, is also a process. It should have it’s own recipe card to be followed step by step, each time, so that you can assure a good looking, well done product. If the process is not followed, it’s incredibly frustrating for the designer, who’s main job begins at or around step 3 of 5. Without this process, they know, ultimately, the final product will not be to the best of the designer’s ability, at no fault of their own. No designer works in a vacuum.

So what IS the recipe for a great design experience?

1. Creative Brief (a must have for large complex projects)
2. Project Objective (what is this end product supposed to accomplish? Where will it be used?)
3. Timeline (How much time do we have from start to finish, including print or production time?)
4. Budget (Incredibly important for the designer to know HOW to design)
5. Client Corporate Identity Materials (Logo, brand standards and corporate colors at a bare minimum)
6. Content (The copy should be provided to the designer as close to final as possible, with grammar and spelling already proofed and proofed again. Provide designer with images and other graphic content that the client requests – up front.)
6. Communication & Point of Contact (The designer needs to be able to ask questions or clarify certain details about the project that may not have been covered)

Pre-heat the creative process by researching the client, their target audiences and their products or services. Read through the creative brief and the corporate materials to gain a solid understanding of who the design is actually for.

Mixing together the project objective and the content provided, keeping in mind the budget for the project and the timeline for which to produce the final product, sketch ideas for the overall packaging of the content, whether it be a postcard, a brochure or an email blast. Black and white wireframes are a good way to get ideas percolating without the distraction of color and shading, but may not be possible if the timeline is short.

Place sketched concepts on a baking sheet or story board and cover with a detailed explanation of execution of the material and each concept’s benefits with regard to the budget, timeline and/or objective.

Receive feedback and further refine the chosen concept, adding color options and slight modifications.

Prepare for baking by sourcing out print and/or development pricing and specs from 2-3 vendors while continuing to refine your design.

Prepare the presentation of your design by providing digital or hard mockups so the client can easily visualize the final concept and the final piece.

Bake on high temps and with creative enthusiasm, present your final design. With each ingredient included, the design can be guaranteed to accomplish the client’s objective, come in on or under budget, and be delivered on time.

Serves as many as you can imagine.

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