The design process we employ is explained (ad nauseam?) below – a preview of the steps we will work through during your project. And an introduction to the terminology we use to describe our work. This terminology is used in our estimates, during the projects we do for you and in our invoices. Understanding these terms we use to manage our projects will help you to understand our estimating, the design process itself, our project management and our invoicing. Take a look if you dare!
This step is used to collect the information needed to set the framework for our design effort. This might involve gathering information on competitors or competing products; investigating techniques or technology that might speed the design process; or gathering design samples in your industry to establish the playing field for your identity or brand. The objective: Be thoroughly prepared to deliver an efficient and successful design effort.
Here we generate sketches and ideas for you to review. Mockups, material samples, color samples, drawings, computer-generated renderings (all kinds of things!) are used to communicate possible design solutions. Two or three concepts are typically presented. This may vary, however, depending on the nature and scope of the project.
Concepts are presented in-person to your key decision-making personnel. During our presentation we can explain our ideas, answer your questions and experience your initial reactions.
Next we use your feedback and discussion to focus our thinking into a single direction. A second presentation is prepared and delivered.
The final stage in the design process details and finalizes our design as deliverable artwork. This phase includes proofing cycles culminating in the delivery of final art to production vendors. Tasks in this phase might include final detailing of a logo; page-by-page layout of a brochure, newsletter or instruction manual; creating final graphics for a web site and building it out; or resizing an advertisement for various publication or web site placements.
Deliverables could be final logo artwork for subsequent applications, stationery proofs, print collateral proofs, going live with a Website, product production drawings, or final graphics for a software interface. Design Completion concludes with release of final artwork files to production or fabrication vendors.
Prepress and Production/Fabrication Coordination
This is the last step in many of our design projects and it is critical to the success of our efforts. A lack of follow through here can compromise any successes that precede it.
If your project's final deliverable is a printed piece Prepress Coordination involves working on the preparation and proofing of your job with a prepress bureau or a printer's prepress department. Issues include scanning, proofing, scheduling, delivery details, etc.
Production/Fabrication Coordination involves working with our vendors to ensure the quality of your final product - your stationery, signage, brochure, trade show exhibit, newsletter, Website, instruction manual, software product, or vehicle fleet. We go 'on location' to personally inspect and approve the work of our vendors. We are happy to have you there with us.
Art Direction combines collaboration, critique, advise and supervision. The 'directed' could be the designers at our studio, a photographer in their studio or on location, or an illustrator as their ideas are sketched, refined and finished.
Our projects cannot happen without involvement on your part. We encourage an active, extensive role. Keep in mind that you may find your role to be quite time consuming. It will also be fun, interesting and rewarding. Be prepared to give time, energy, critical thinking and decision making. It is important, in fact it is critical to the success of our efforts, that we are working directly with the key decision-makers in your organization. We do ask that you are prepared to have these decision-makers closely involved from the very beginning of our work together.
All that said ...
We hope this discussion will help you to better understand the design process as you experience it. Beginning with our estimate, through design, production and invoicing we plan to make your experience a damn good one.