My process for a typical design project can be organized into 12 steps. As you can see, there’s a lot more to this than handing me the reins and letting me make “art.” My goal is always to work with my clients, not for them (and definitely not the other way around!). For that reason, you’ll see that a lot of these steps involve participation on your – the client’s – part. Although I’ll be taking some time to reasearch and learn about your company, you know your business better than anyone. The more you’re involved, the better I can help you reach your goals!
Here’s how this process usually goes, step-by-step:
- 1. Project Questionnaire
- 2. Contract signature and approval of Project Agreement
- 3. Initial deposit due
- 4. Research
- 5. Pinterest mood board
- 6. Brainstorming ideas
- 7. Rough sketches
- 8. Concepts
- 9. Revisions
- 10. Project approval
- 11. File handover
- 12. Final invoice due
- (Optional) Follow-up client satisfaction survey
1. Project Questionnaire
We’ll start our process with a Project Questionnaire that I will supply. It’s a series of questions for you to answer that dig into the heart of your brand, as well as your desires and goals for this project. Although you’re not required to answer every question, the more information you give me, the better of an understanding I will have of your business. This questionnaire is so important because it really helps get us on the same page and thinking like a team right from the start! I like to have you fill this out before any paperwork is signed so that we can make sure we’re a good fit before we’re locked into anything.
2. Contract signature and approval of Project Agreement
After the Project Questionnaire has been filled out and we’ve discussed any questions or concerns, I’ll write up a contract and Project Agreement and send them your way. The Project Agreement is a simple statement of the terms of the project ahead (i.e., the project cost, how many revisions are included, etc.). The contract is a typical freelance designer contract and will need to be signed by you before we proceed to the next steps. When you sign the contract, you are also signifying agreement to the project terms. All of this is done simply to ease both of our minds and give you an understanding of how the rest of the design process will play out.
3. Initial deposit due
The initial deposit is the final step before the fun stuff starts. This deposit is due upfront, before any design work begins. For fixed-price projects, the deposit is 50% of the total project cost. For hourly projects, it is 50% of the estimated cost to complete the project. This deposit is non-refundable but will be discounted from the final invoice.
Before I start designing, I like to spend some time researching your business and what you do. I take another look at your Project Questionnaire and make notes from your answers. This helps me really get a feel for where you’re coming from and where we’re headed design-wise.
5. Pinterest idea board & mood board
I like to include a Pinterest board with my upper-level logo package and my branding packages to help define the visual direction of the project and give you a sense of what I’m going for design-wise. I will send you an invite to the board so you can also pin any images you find, although how much you are involved is up to you. The board will be private so that we’re free to collaborate without any potentially sensitive information being compromised. (In some instances, such as rush delivery projects, we might decide to skip this stage to save some time. However, I strongly suggest allowing enough time for this stage, as it really helps us be on the same page visually before any design work starts.) For branding projects, I’ll also create a mood board and get your approval of it before we move onto the next step.
6. Brainstorming ideas
During this stage, I’ll take your answers from the Project Questionnaire along with the idea board directions and brainstorm ideas before putting pencil to paper. This is usually a pretty quick step, but it’s the ideal way for me to come up with concepts that will best portray the message of your brand. For branding projects, I’ll create a mood board and get your approval of it before we move onto the next step.
7. Rough sketches
Next I’ll start drawing out some rough concept sketches to get an idea of the best way to portray the message we’re attempting to get across. This step looks very different depending on what type of project we’re working on. For example, an illustrative project will produce much more in-depth sketches, while most layout projects will simply include boxes and scribbles to let me know where I’ll place graphics or sections of text.
After sketching out ideas, I’ll choose a couple of the best sketches and further enhance them into concepts that I will send to you. Depending on the project and our timeline, these may be simple computer mockups or fully-developed ideas. Either way, you will have enough of an idea of the direction I’m taking to decide which concept you would like to move forward with.
The revision stage is the usually the longest of all of the steps in my process. It starts after I send you an updated, further produced draft of the concept you chose in step 8. I will ask you to review the draft and let me know what you’d like to change. I will make the desired changes and send the next draft to you. Those changes count as 1 round of revisions. (If we agreed to a package/fixed-price project, I will let you know when we are nearing the maximum amount of revisions included. After that, revisions will be billed according to the Project Agreement.) We will continue this stage until you are satisfied with the final product.
10. Project approval
Once you’re satisfied with the work I’ve created, you’ll let me know that no more revisions are necessary and you’re ready to receive your files. This ends the revisions stage.
11. File handover
After you’ve approved the project, I will send over all of the final, workable files. I always supply all of the necessary file types so you have everything you need.
12. Final invoice due
After I’ve handed over your shiny new files, I’ll send a final invoice for the remaining cost of the project, plus any additional costs (i.e., additional revisions, additional concepts, etc.). Your initial deposit (see step 3) will be subtracted from the amount due. This invoice is due within 30 days.
(Optional) Follow-up client satisfaction survey
Lastly, I will follow up with an optional client satisfaction survey. This is a short, simple form with questions regarding your experience working with me. I like to hear my clients’ feedback and I may even use it on the testimonials page on my website.
Got any questions about my process? Interested in working with me? Shoot me an email! I’d love to get started.