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Don’t design without a plan

Don’t design without a plan

Know what you’re building before you start

Seeing your good work go unused is one of the most draining things about working as a designer. It’s hard to pour your heart, creativity and time into a piece and then watch it languish in your sketchbook or on your hard drive. There are a number of reasons your work may end up in the graveyard of good ideas, and often it’s an unavoidable part of the process. But many times good design work can’t be used because the designer didn’t work to get a clear enough idea of what the project’s goal was.

What’s the real goal?

The client may be asking for a brochure, but “having a brochure” is not their real goal. (If that is their real goal they have a boring life, and they need better goals.) Are they asking for a brochure because they need a way to explain their offerings to potential customers? Or are they trying to get customers to take a specific action? Ask yourself, or ask your client, “If I do my job well, how will we know? What will be different?” It’s also helpful to ask, “What need are they hoping this piece will fill?”

You can’t design a solution until you know what the problem is.

Don’t start creating your “design solution” until you know what the problem is. You’ll spin your wheels, and you may create some awesome and beautiful things. When you finally show your client the beautiful thing you’ve poured your heart into, they may like it, but they won’t be able to use it. A good design brief will define the project clearly and help you avoid a lot of heartache.

Give your designer good direction

The same thing holds true if you’re hiring a designer. You wouldn’t ask a carpenter to start building you a house without a plan–don’t ask your designer to get started until you have a really clear sense of what you want them to accomplish for you.

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