How To Work With Your Design Team by Sherry Holub
As the Creative Director at JV Media Design, I oversee and manage all creative projects and staff. In order to undertake this task, I have developed an outline for our team to follow that facilitates the process which takes each project from concept to completion. Part of this process involves educating each of our clients on what we need from them in order for the project to move forward.
Although some design studios may not be as organized, it would still benefit each client to know in advance what might be expected of them before proceeding with a design job. Successful projects come from not just a talented design team, but also close interaction with the client throughout the process.
Below is a general outline of how you or your company can work with your chosen design team.
Consultation, Planning, and Choosing a Representative
The most important step in many things is the first and that rings true in the design field. Your designer should set up a phone or in-person consultation with you prior to the beginning of your project. Here, you should discuss every detail of your project so that the designer can plan the workflow and milestones. Some designers will also offer you a questionnaire to fill out to help determine this information. It is very important, especially when working on interactive/multimedia and custom programmed (database/ecommerce) websites to have more information than not enough. If you discover that you forgot to mention a key function in your initial consultation it could not only set your project back, but also cost you more money to add it in after you have already signed a design agreement or contract.
After the initial consulting and planning for your project is complete and you have signed a design agreement, the next task is to choose a single representative from your company to interface with the design team throughout the project. This prevents many problems such as conflicting information before they even have a chance to happen. The chosen representative's responsibility is to:
1) Get the design team any content (text, chosen images, etc.) necessary for the project 2) Respond to any questions or requests from the design team 3) Notify the design team of any changes or modifications necessary on the project 4) Sign off on any milestones
Content is possibly the most important aspect of your website. It is equally important to make sure that your content represents your company the best possible way. Before giving text content to your designer, you need to check and recheck it for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. You may also consider hiring a professional copywriter to produce content for your site. Either way, most design companies do not reread your content checking for and/or correcting errors and will charge an extra fee for this service. Just make sure your content is the best that it can be when you hand it off.
Most design companies will offer a number of "mock up" or concept designs for your project with a certain amount of revisions. It is important for you to review each design with your associates and make any changes necessary to achieve the final look for your site. Once a final design is approved, if you make additional modifications you may be liable to pay additional charges. Your design team should help you avoid this by working closely with you and making suggestions during the concept phase.
When Problems Arise
It is important to remember that although your design team relies on computers to create your site, they are only human. There are occasions when an instruction may be misinterpreted or not as clear as it should be. It is up to your design team to ask questions when things are not perfectly clear to avoid problems and it is up to you to give as much description and detail in order to complete the project. Phrases such as, "We are looking for something edgy", or "We'll know it when we see it" really do nothing to help the progress of your project.
Additional problems such as delays can usually be avoided by keeping a clear line of communication open at all times. If you have questions during the process, do not hesitate to bring them up. Your design team should be available normal business hours via phone, email, and/or an instant messenger service and be able to solve any problems that arise quickly and professionally. If they cannot, make sure you receive adequate explanation (there may be extenuating circumstance in any case) or refer back to the agreement you signed with the company.
Completing the Project
Your design team should thoroughly check your finished website to make sure that it works on the top internet browsers (Internet Explorer and Firefox) and has no errors in functionality. They should also be available to make any final edits and/or changes before the site is taken live on the web.
When the project is completed to your satisfaction, many design companies will present you with options for maintaining your site such as; "on call" maintenance or a monthly, quarterly, or yearly contract.
For a successful project it is important for both the client and the design
team to work together. It is up to the client to explain the project thoroughly
and give the design team a good idea of what is expected and it is up to the
design team to keep lines of communication open, ask questions when things may
be unclear, and use experience and expertise to do the job.
About the Author
Sherry is the Creative Director and Senior Designer at California studio, JV Media Design (http://www.jvmediadesign.com).