Our Process: What It Takes to Process a Request
Part of the reason our graphic design firm is able to keep taking on more work successfully is that we have a pretty systematic approach to processing our work. This system keeps our team working within timelines and budgets. All without stopping the creative juices from flowing freely.
When a project request comes into our graphic design firm, we follow a certain process. This allows us to incorporate new tasks into our schedule so we keep everything moving and no balls drop.
This is a complex system, though, and we thought it might be helpful if we break it all down. Here is what happens when a request comes in from a client.
Graphic Design Firm: First Touch
For new clients, it’s likely that your first touch will be with someone on our business development team. She will talk with you about your needs and vision, and will have you complete a few forms. Once we’ve completed the on-boarding process, the #nicegirl you have been communicating with will brief our team on the project. From there, you can expect to receive a welcome email with an intro to our project manager.
Graphic Design Firm: Project Manager
When the project gets into the hands of our project manager, the wheels really start turning. Our project manager will assess our production schedule, the project scope and timeline, and available resources. She will assign the project accordingly, and will ensure that you remain informed at every step as our team works to strategize, problem solve, create, revise, and create some more.
Simple design projects, like business card revisions or ad resizes, may go directly to the design team. However, many of our projects require several steps or the collaboration of our entire team. For those projects, we start off by creating a timeline which usually kicks off with a session outlining what actually needs to be done to deliver a solution specifically for you.
Graphic Design Firm: Timeline Creation
We create a timeline that addresses the various phases of the projects. Then the project manager assigns steps of the project to team members. Assignments are based on the project timeline and the order in which we need to accomplish the steps. We utilize a project management system to input all actions, milestones, and meetings so that we don’t miss a beat.
Bigger projects, like website design and development, for example, require extensive planning to create a viable timeline. We walked through this process specifically in our AP2 website project showcase if you want to see how it all breaks down.
Keep in mind that you have a part to play in the timeline as well. Our tentative project schedule is dependent upon you being able to provide content in a timely manner and proof approvals or feedback quickly as well.
Additionally, the timeline can be seriously impacted the moment a project goes outside the scope of the original proposal. This can happen when a client’s business operations take a sudden turn and require that we create a new direction or make changes to previously approved pieces. When a major shift in direction happens, or changes to previously approved elements are required, the initial timeline will often be invalid. However, our team is flexible, and if deadlines are firm, we can usually figure out a way to make sure that it all works out.
No matter what happens, you can always expect to be informed of changes in timeline from our team.
Graphic Design Firm: Project Brief
When the PM (that’s agency talk for project manager) has all of the details sorted out, she and the client liaison will brief the team on the project. Often, this includes an agency-wide meeting where everyone who will be working on the project can hear details about the overall scope, any initial client concerns or desires, and notes about the timeline and budget for the project. At this point, the client can bring questions to the table. The PM can get the answers we need through additional conversations with the client.
Graphic Design Firm: Creative Brief
Seems like a lot of briefs, right? Well, there’s nothing brief about launching a branding or graphic design project and making sure that it stays on track. Following the project brief, our creative team meets to discuss thoughts and ideas for the project. The creative team is led by our creative director and includes a group of incredibly innovative graphic designers. Here, directional concepts are tossed about, sketches are created, and tasks are assigned.
Graphic Design Firm: Project Process
Once underway, our projects go through various stages, including brainstorming, strategy, graphic design, content development, production, and closeout.
At each step, we go through internal approvals and client approvals. Often, there are a certain number of revisions included in your project, and the PM will make sure that we are keeping to the timeline and budget throughout the process.
If only we had a dollar for every email or thought it takes to move all that around…
Graphic Design Firm: Deliverables
Finally, after all is clicked into completion, we get to deliver up the final product. Your project scope determines what we deliver. For a logo project, we will deliver logo files and guidelines. For a website design and development project, your completed website live on your domain will be the deliverable. If we’re creating marketing collateral or stationery, we will deliver the final print-ready files appropriate to the format needed. Some clients need their native files. Those can be purchased for an additional fee. More on that in our blog, Am I Entitled to My Graphic Design Native Files?