1. Start with a creative brief
The creative design process starts with a creative brief which sets the tone for the entire project. It’s the first and arguably one of the most important steps in the visual design process as it will lead the ideation phase in creating a design which meets the requirements.
A creative brief is a document that’s aimed to help the designer understand the scope of the project and what’s needed from them. You’ll want to include as much relevant information as possible to reduce any confusion, and as a result, back and forth.
Be sure to include the following in your brief:
- Company details
- Brand guidelines
- Target audience
- If there is one; define the problem the brand is facing
- What the final product should be (I.e. brochure, eBook, etc)
- Timeline expectations and milestones
- What you intend viewers to do when they see the final product
- Examples of similar work you like (and don’t)
We also recommend going over creative briefs in person or over video if the project is more complex. This allows both parties to iron out any uncertainties to ensure everyone is on the same page and improves problem solving.
2. Conduct graphic design research
Depending on the scope of the project, you’ll want to include as much valuable information in your creative brief to minimize the time spent in this step. However, it’s still extremely valuable for designers to go through the researching phase themselves to build a better understanding of the audience they’re designing for (and how to make it work for you).
The research phase of the design process often involves things like:
- Looking at competitor designs
- Look at what the intended audience is engaging with on channels like social media
- Taking all of the knowledge they’ve learned and applying it to the project at hand
Designers may also want to create a mood board or collection of comparable designs at this stage in order to get their ideas flowing. More on that below!
3. Brainstorm your design ideas
Before a designer goes full-throttle into a project, have them brainstorm some ideas and present them to you. This will minimize any frustration throughout the creative process. Don’t forget to outline this step in your creative brief!
If the project owner (who created the brief) has really strong ideas on how the final designs should look, it’s best for them to add in any relevant links or inspiration into the brief for optimal clarity.
Once the designer presents 3-5 ideas from their brainstorming and ideation phase, decide on which one you want to move forward with. This will make for a smooth graphic design workflow process that gets you the best results, fast.
4. Review at the 10/50/99 stage
When determining your milestones in your creative brief, be sure to check in with designers throughout the design process. The 10/50/99 feedback process ensures that you’re checking in at the most crucial parts of a project, allowing you to give the right feedback at the right time:
- 10% done — A skeleton, outline or wireframe of the final design. At this stage, you can give feedback on the vision and direction that the work is headed in.
- 50% done — The core components are coming together. The direction is no longer at debate so leave that feedback at the door. Instead, focus on whether or not the vision you determined is being visualized in the design.
- 99% done — The nitty-gritty design tweaks. Finally! You can start tweaking things like spacing, colors, you name it.
Often, people will break these review rules and start giving feedback on things like color choice or fonts at a stage where the designer has only outlined a skeleton. This is not only frustrating for the designer, it’s unproductive! Make sure to follow the above design review stages to keep your projects moving along smoothly.
5. Present the final product
Yay! The design is complete. It’s time to get the final files (and invoice if working with an external design resource) and put the designs into action. If you want to go the extra mile, ask your designer for feedback on how they found the process, what they feel could be improved or tweaked and then iterate your process.