Design Process

At the beginning of every year it's often nice to learn a new skill or to form a new habit. For me, 2018 is about Design Process.

Any designer, from freelance to agency will experience similar pains when it comes to process. We all have one (and if you don't, then you should). 

But what happens when a deadline is looming, a budget is tight or a client wants that extra set of amends? In my experience, the process is the first thing to go.

It's easy to blame external factors. In each of those cases, you can point the finger at the client – it's their fault for setting a ridiculous deadline, it's their fault for being "cheap", or it's their fault for not being able to commit to a design. But I'm just going to throw this out there and say, it isn't their fault. It's yours.

You are the Designer. They come to you to help them solve a problem – whatever that problem may be (Not always; see the excellent "clients from hell"). But unless you take the time up front to go through your process, how can you expect them to respect your time/worth?

So for 2018 I'm introducing a new part of the process at Peregrine. It goes like this:

  1. Identify your process (it is different from Branding to Websites, etc)
  2. Split it up into the different Phases
  3. The division between each phase should be clear. For example, Phase 1 for Websites might be Wireframing and UX. Phase 2 might be Mockups.
  4. Try and keep it down to 4 phases, you don't want to overwhelm your client.
  5. Important: Make clear where the feedback cycles are! 
  6. Lay out your phases in a simple timeline, and save this as a handy PDF.

Now whenever you get a new client and have that kickoff call, let them know that you'll be sending over a Process Diagram. Make clear the number of iterations you're prepared to make at each Feedback Cycle. As the project progresses, ask for their sign-off before progressing to each new Phase, and kindly let them know that going back a Phase isn't OK.

This won't fix everything and from time to time you're still going to have those awkward conversations about time and money. But it will help. 

After all, you probably don't understand the process your solicitor goes through when buying a house, so why expect your clients to understand what it takes to design a brand identity?

Being a Designer is all about relationships, and the smoother the relationship with your client, the better experience both of you will have. It all starts with Process.

Tom Wood