Have you ever looked at a poster, a mobile app or a book, and asked yourself: how was it made? What was the rationale behind it? Or how did the designer or developer arrive at the final solution? It's in human nature to wonder about things and question everything. I'm a big believer that if we share what we know we all grow. Either by learning from teaching or learning from consuming the knowledge. So I'll be sharing today how does my design process look like in a step by step guide.
Every project is different. When I'm working on a commissioned project for a client, for example, a restaurant identity design I'll have a more set design process than if I'd be working on a side project purely for myself just to get better at certain skills. So this article is more of a general perspective of my design process. I promise to write more on this topic and tailor the article to different types of designs in the next posts.
1. The Brief
Whether it's a paid gig or a side hustle that matters to me I try to put together a brief. I found it helps me, clients and other people involved in the projects to get a good summary of the project.
What is the design brief? It's like the bible for the project. The document will be used as a point of reference throughout the whole project. It should include information such as the company profile, the target audience, the goals, the competitor info, the problem, the budget, time scale, deliverables, and contact info.
2. Brief meeting
Once the brief is in place it's a good moment to sit down with the client and discuss it in detail. It's a perfect time to ask more questions about the project. Discuss the expectations and negotiate on the budget or scale of delivery. This is the time when things aren't 100% set yet so any doubts and questions related to this project should be removed and answered. That will pay off later.
3. Kick-off the project
Enough of talking now is time to start doing. In this phase, all it counts is the idea! How to get the most ideas out of your head and visualize them? Image boards can be useful and brainstorming helps. Research might be the breaking point - you never know what you will discover while learning about the audience/users. Early concepts are more than welcome after all of this.
4. Design Proposal
Moving on to the next stage - presenting a proposal. Another meeting with the client and decision-makers, a quite important one. Design proposal should outline briefly how the problem will be solved - it can have a few options to choose from. Who will be working on it? That includes any other parties which have to be involved: other design freelancers or suppliers such as printers etc. If everything goes well and the client is excited about what's about to happen - what's next?
This is the most exciting part of the whole design process. We've got the personas, scenarios, storyboard and other vast information from interviews so it's time to play the visual game and move to the development of the concept/concepts while making sure that everything that is created aligns with the brief. Every design project is so different that I can't give one formula to describe what exactly happens here. I'll write more about this when I'll be describing specific design processes for logo, visual identity, packaging, etc.
To be clear - this is not a one time off. It looks more like this: magic - client's feedback - magic - client's feedback - magic - client's feedback - magic - client's feedback and so on till everyone's happy.
VII. Back of the house job While maintaining clients' feedback and keep the magic going the design team is testing, prototyping and making sure there is no error. Very important tasks that need the time they deserve.
Now that we're sure everything is perfect and just the way we wanted it's time to get real - launch the website / send the book to the printer etc. It's a great feeling seeing how weeks or months of work paid off. Take a moment to celebrate before moving to the next final part of the process
8. Back of the house job
While maintaining clients' feedback and keep the magic going the design team is testing, prototyping and making sure there is no error. Very important tasks that need the time they deserve.
That's a wrap! Breathe in, breathe out and reflect on the journey. What went well and what didn't, how could this be improved for the future? Hopefully, the project will serve well and make some noise in the public space. A good way of celebrating it is to try to get some publishing around it: design magazines, talks or interviews can spread the good work and in return bring more clients.
Now that's my design process guide. While this process might not answer the question of how was the logo designed? it will give you a better understanding of how designers work with clients and how the designer-client relationship will look like while working on a new brief. Watch this space for future content about a specific design process for logo, illustration, design identity and so on.