“Designs are ideas made visual...
...and then made into the final product”
But it's not always as straight forward and as simple as that, there are quite a few other processes to go through before even a single proof can be provided.
The Design Process
The design process comprises five distinct stages although it may vary for particular projects or design disciplines. This information may be useful when working with a designer to understand the processes involved. Before the project is started however, a vital question has to be asked: “Why do you need a new identity, brochure or website etc?” This question is the key to undertaking a successful project.
Stage One: Research, Strategy or Feasibility
We collect all the available information relevant to the project in hand. This could include your written brief, rough sketches, perhaps with supporting back ground material, studying existing branding, related legal issues, as well as any new research necessary for the project. We like to ask many questions at this stage in order to understand a client's requirements and expectations.
Without asking the correct questions, design could be eroded to nothing more than just decoration. Ok, it's fair enough that decoration is nice in and around your house or on your office walls, but decoration is not really the best for any of your professional branded marketing materials.
You can do a lot better!
The key questions are:
One: Why are we doing this?
What problem are we trying to solve or what opportunity are we trying to capture?
Two: What specific outcome are we looking for and how will we know when we have achieved this?
Three: What (if anything) can get in the way of our success and what can we do to mitigate that risk? At this stage we believe it’s a good time to look at the competition and their approach and figure a way to gain the advantage.
The information is analysed and an initial proposal developed reflecting our understanding of the project that cover the objectives, feasibility, budget forecast and general direction.
Sometimes an estimate is all that’s needed as long as everything is made as clear as possible to the client so that there's no surprises. Our goal is to keep our clients well informed each step of the way. It helps to avoid little things that may become big headaches.
We might require the services of writers, photographers, printers or programmers depending on the project. We have a great group of reliable people who we've worked with over the years. We would need to collate prices from all the individuals involved.
Stage Two: Design Concepts
When the initial proposal has been accepted and everyone agrees on the details, preliminary design ideas are developed. This is where the creative process is given free reign within all the constraints established in Stage One. Considerations may be colour combinations, typography, graphic style, keywords and technology.
We might end up with a lot of visuals – some things work and some things don’t. The ones that make most sense are refined and assessed as to the practicality of development. We also like to move away from them for a day if possible to see them from a fresh point of view.
Like all designers we generally only present three concepts to our clients for review, usually in pdf format. Client feedback and discussions result in the preferred concept being chosen for Stage Three development. Approximate costings for implementation are also calculated at this stage.
Stage Three: Detailed Design Development
The selected concept is worked up with all details implemented. Variations may be developed as well as further mock-ups. A logo would be created with subtle variations, different colours, fonts etc. A websites various pages would be assembled in Photoshop and sample pages created in html
to experience the on-screen effect.
A brochure might have photographs commissioned or purchased from a library which would need selection and approval. This stage can seem a little random, but it really depends on the item or product being designed.
The important point to bear in mind is that this is an organic process and details can be changed if necessary.
A detailed specification of the design for production planning and final costing would also be created at this point.
Stage Four: Implementation
After Stage Three approval, finished artwork is produced as required.
For print this usually involves the
creation of print-ready pdfs and detailed specifications are also created for outside suppliers.
For websites, our designs are converted into html code for example, either by us or a programmer.
Stage Five: Supervision of Production
Quality control is important, so we prefer to oversee production ourselves through to completion. In case of print it usually just means checking printers proofs, although the pdf system is very reliable.
If the design is for a website we can suggest the best way to choose a website name if needed, sort out your hosting and show you how search engine optimisation is vital and how we can implement it in our designs.
Websites are also tested on various browsers, with Google sitemaps and analytics implemented.
The process is basically the same for all design disciplines but we do like to keep the system flexible as projects are as different as clients needs. If you have any particular questions or there’s something you don’t understand, please get in touch and we’ll help you out with your specific questions.