We recently got a great survey question about how to come up with a good design process and the different steps that one should include. It’s really all about figuring out what works best for you and your clients. Some designers have a lot more steps and some don’t do the popular steps that other designers do.
Kory here! A great example of that is I don’t do sketches even though I know a lot of my peers do. It takes time to figure out what you want your design process to look like, but in today’s episode, we’re going to cover the 4 main parts of a design process and how you can audit yours to make sure it’s working as great as it can be.
4 main parts of a design process
The key way to make sure you have a good design process is to start by ensuring that you have the following 4 parts, regardless of what they look like.
First and foremost it’s always a good idea to start with research. I know that a lot of people groan at the idea of doing this sort of work, but keep in mind that there are a variety of ways you could look at doing research for your client:
- Looking for visual inspiration
- Getting to know your client’s brand
- Learning about your client’s competitors
Taking the time to do research in whatever way works best for you can obviously help you understand the best visual aesthetic that’s appropriate for the project. Sometimes we and our clients are way off in what we think the final design should look like. It’ll also allow you to create a design that will work best for your client’s audience, which is who you’re creating the new brand or website design for.
Obviously this is where you finally get to get to the fun part. How much you do during this phase of the project is truly up to you and what you feel is necessary for the project. The survey question we got asked about wireframes and if they were a required part of the process, but this is where you get to decide that. While I see value in them, I don’t actually take the time to do wireframes for my projects.
This phase also depends on how many concepts you want to present. In EP 035 where we talked to Jamie about the one logo solution, we learned a little about how this makes her process more unique than that of someone who make present 3-4 concepts.
Without fail, you will always want to refine the work you create for your clients. This would be improving on the concepts before you present them or making tweaks if the client has asked for revisions. Similar to the design phase, though, this step in the process depends on the way you work and how much you’re willing to do for your client.
The survey question also asked about how many revisions to offer, and that’s totally up to each designer individually. I’ve known designers who offered unlimited revisions to help make sure they get the best final product, but for me I stick to 2 revisions for each main part of the project.
Finally, you’ll be delivering your work to the client. Obviously how you do this depends on the work you’ve done and how you want to deliver your final files. I’ve been testing out WeTransfer more often with clients, but in the past I’ve sent a Dropbox folder or just emailed the final files.
How to audit your process
Now if you read through those main steps and it got you thinking about how you can improve upon your process, let’s dive into the best way to audit your process.
List out every single step you take
Even though this seems over the top, I always recommend this because it’s all too easy to forget exactly what steps you take or want to take during your process when most of the time you’re going through it on autopilot. This step will help you visually see what you’re doing for your client, and it actually might surprise you how many steps you take or how many things you want to change.
Ask why you do this + how it helps your client
The most important thing you should do when auditing your process is get really honest with yourself about why you’re taking the steps that you take. A lot of times designers do things with clients simply because other designers do them as well. If you don’t know why you’re doing something and it’s not benefiting your clients, it might be okay to remove that step entirely.
Tweak steps that you feel aren’t working well
If you’re looking at your process and you can’t figure out how it helps you or your client during the project, it’s time to tweak or remove that step altogether. A great example of this would be to offer fewer logo concepts to your clients if you find that giving them 4-6 to look at usually just makes them take way too long to make a decision.
Make notes if something isn’t right so you can change it with the next client
Last but not least, don’t forget to pay attention to what’s not working during your projects. I have had several projects where something didn’t work or I wanted to tweak it for the next project, but I totally forgot by the time I got started with the next project because I didn’t make a note of it. This will help you continue to better your process so you’re creating the best work possible for your clients.
- The next time you have time in between clients, do an audit for your process using the tips we’ve outlined in this episode
- If something doesn’t feel right during a project, make a note to change things up with your next project
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