How important is the client in determining effective design results?
More important than a client may realize. And it’s our job as designers to help
a client to understand how valuable they are when we begin our work. Without good
communication from both sides and an open dialogue, our job becomes infinitely
more difficult and much less likely to produce the desired outcome.
We must ask the right questions before we get started. An established design
process works to quickly get to the root of the need and desired outcome, but this
cannot be done effectively without client collaboration. I know this is
elementary to most designers, but not necessarily to potential clients.
A Quick Rundown of the Process for the Non-Designer:
1. Contact – There should be a designated contact within your clients organization
to field any questions designers may have or to give feedback during the design process.
2. Discuss – A discussion, preferably by phone, should happen between designer(s)
and the client contact(s) to ask all initial questions we may have and to find out what
they feel are the goals/parameters of the project. At this stage, the client may have
little information or they may have a sketch of their own, inspiration imagery,
information on what they don’t want. Everything is useful.
3. Preliminary Research – We may present the client with visual cues to get an idea
of what aesthetic they might be looking for and ask them for feedback, research their
brand guidelines and current aesthetic as well as the current goals of their business itself.
4. Project Brief – Writing a polished project brief based upon our discussion with
the client allows us make certain we are on the right path and function as a
guide throughout the process. The client can amend it or tell us we are
right on. Either way, we will be better informed.
5. Concept – The concept stage is also a collaborative process with the client.
We sketch concepts based off of our research and project brief then get initial
feedback. From there, we may move to 3D models and renderings to explore color,
material selection and better understand the concept with dimension.
And again, we would present for client feedback and revisit if necessary.
The main point that is recurring throughout this process is the integration of
the client, client feedback and an open dialogue. The simple fact is that sticking
to the design process at the start of each project will help the client and designers
to create a more effective solution, minimize confusion and reduce time wasted
on revisions, getting to market on schedule and within budget.