The Design Process:
Beginning to End
As a designer, it’s always exciting to start a new project from the beginning. The design process can be challenging, but it’s always rewarding to deliver a design that brings a client’s ideas to life.
The design process is a journey through these six important steps:
- Define the Project
- Research the Industry
- Strategy and Conceptualization
- Develop the Designs
- Present the Work
- Prepare and Launch!
Each step is crucial to the development of the design and important in maintaining a healthy client-designer relationship.
1) Define the Project
This is where the project germinates. The client typically reaches out to us in need of new branding materials. I start with an in-person meeting or a phone conference to gather more information about their business, their goals and what they envision for a brand. The communication in this stage is essential to understand the mission of the company.
To ensure we are on the same page, I will ask the client a series of questions, focusing on the following:
- Company Profile: A brief description of the company
- Communication Goals: The message the client wants to convey through the brand
- Target Market: The demographic the client would like to reach
- Examples: The client’s preference of colors or images they would like to incorporate
- Deadline: The schedule of materials needed
These questions often force the client to think about what they want and provides the designer with better direction when starting the project.
2) Research the Industry
Before I jump into design, I always take some time to immerse myself into the industry of my client’s company. I want to see what their competitors’ brands look like and the marketing channels they use. Our goal is to overshadow the competitors, not follow in their footsteps. I will also research the history and the future of the industry to ensure the brand will be able to withstand the trends moving forward.
3) Strategy and Conceptualization
Here comes the fun part! I like to take all the information I’ve gathered through my client and my own research and do a “design dump.” Typically, I’ll grab some scrap paper and free draw or free write to get all my ideas down on paper – whether they are crazy and abstract, or more traditional. I’ll play around with basic shapes or images and write down descriptive words to help define the theme of the design. Once I have a solid creative direction, I’m able to take a couple of concepts and run with it… to the computer!
4) Develop the Design
This is the best part of the design process because it’s where the ideas come to life. I’ll take my sketch concepts and transfer them to the computer by drawing or tracing. I like to play with different shapes, gradients and images to find what works best. Then, I select various fonts that match with the design and the theme. I usually start the design in black and white and play with colors at the end. If the logo doesn’t work in black and white, it won’t work in color!
When I have a couple of designs completed, I walk away and come back the next day. Taking time to reflect on your work is important in perfecting the smaller details. When I come back to the design, I have a fresh set of eyes and I’m able to refine or enhance the details I’ve already started.
5) Present the Work
It’s nail-biting time! I save the designs I created, number them for easy reference, and send them to the client with a summary of my objective for each concept. The good news: when the client comes back saying they like one piece of option A and one piece of option B. At this point, I make edits, combine, alter, adjust, and resend a final design.
The bad news: every designer’s dismay is if the client doesn’t like any of the designs and it’s back to step 1. It’s a challenging position, but sometimes it happens, especially if the client is unsure of what they want or there was a lack of communication. You must analyze what went wrong, take a different approach and have patience.
6) Prepare and LAUNCH!
The design is approved! This is the time to implement the final brand on all marketing materials. Most often, I will work with the client to create business cards, stationery, social media artwork, web artwork, signage, and even a refreshed website to reflect the new brand.
It’s a beautiful feeling when you complete a project and deliver it to a happy client. This step-by-step design process is the best way to establish great relationships with your clients and help guide them to a brand they are proud to display.
Looking for a new brand or want to refresh an existing one? Contact me at 203-426-9193 or firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start step 1 together.
> Stay tuned for my next post in April on Trade Show 101: Prepare, Shine & Follow Up.
About the Author
Alyssa’s ability to translate concepts into visually appealing and impactful presentations creates a competitive edge for our clients. She uses her creative eye to bring life to still images and print designs.