So how does graphic design work? Graphic design can be compared to problem-solving. A designer will typically work through a set process in order to ensure that the solution presented to the client not only looks good, but is the most appropriate solution for their aims and brand image, as well as being delivered on-time and under-budget. As this is the case, it is important for the designer to listen to the clients’ requirements. A good designer will guide a client in a certain direction whereas a bad designer will head off in that direction regardless.
Here at Dreamscape, we usually split a project into 4 phases: Briefing, Research and Development, Design stage, and Production.
Can take the form of an informal discussion or a formal meeting between designer and client. Discussion can include details in regards the requirements of the project, timescale, budget considerations etc. This can be a good time for the designer to find out as much information about the client and their business as possible. For example, who are the companies main competitors? Does the company have a set of brand guidelines that should be followed? What message should this piece of work send out? Exclusive? Cool? The more information the designer can gather at this stage, the more time can be saved later.
Research and Development
Next the designer will spend some time reviewing the brief and background information before even beginning to think about designing anything. Research can include aims, competitors, target markets etc.
This is a very important part of the design process – if research is neglected this can create huge problems later on. The designer might produce a logo that looks remarkably similar to a direct competitors logo without even realising it – not a clever look! However if the designer has taken part in the briefing, then he should already have somewhat of a headstart here.
Research for designers can also include gathering ideas and inspiration, as well as gaining knowledge, both relating to the company, and also to design practice and theory.
Once all the research has been completed, draft concepts and preliminary designs are produced (usually sketched on paper at this stage).
The most effective design solutions will then be selected from the preliminary sketches. These designs will then be developed further. They may be brought into a computer-aided design programme (such as Adobe illustrator) and rendered in more detail.
The designer will then present the chosen design concepts to the client, talking them through the design process and explaining key design decisions. The client will be invited to give their opinion on the design. The design will then be compared to the requirements as set out in the brief.
The design will be amended in relation to feedback from the client and final proofs of the artwork will then be sent to the client for approval.
All that is left for the designer to do now is to send the artwork to a commercial printer, or in the case of web design to pass the project on to the developers/coders who will turn the design into a fully-functional website.
In general these are the phases that a design project will go through, however depending on the type of project (and budget) may involve more, or less, stages. This brings us to the topic of cheap set-price design. You will probably have seen companies/designers offering “Logos for £50!” Well I’m sure you can guess the sort of quality of work that will be on offer here. For a start there will almost certainly be no research involved, and in a worst-case scenario there may not even be any actual design work involved – besides ripping off an already existing design. The old saying “You get what you pay for” is particularly applicable to graphic design. The invisible elements such as research can take up a lot of time, but for a successful solution to your design problems they are an essential stage of the design process.