Defining your design process

Sometimes you just need to put your process into writing – especially if you’ve been operating without one. Defining the design process is not only helpful for us as designers, but it’s also helpful for our clients so they know what to expect along the way.

Working with another designer for a wide range of clients with no formal process documentation, we found that time was being wasted with late content edits that could probably have been caught up front. Jobs were taking a lot longer than they should because not all stakeholders were included in the project until there was a design proof, which meant lots of edits and redesigning – sometimes scrapping the proof and starting over from scratch because the content would change so much. We could probably save a lot of time and effort if all stakeholders weighed in and signed off on the content before we even began the design.

We laid out a pretty straightforward design process:

This new process isn’t a radical change from the way we had been working, but the goal was to reduce the number of edits we were seeing around stages 5-6. With that in mind, the biggest adjustment was in step #1 – asking clients to have their content reviewed and approved by all stakeholders in advance. This gave our clients a visual overview of how things work, what they should expect, and what it is expected of them.

Utilizing Google Docs, multiple stakeholders could review, comment and edit simultaneously, working through those major mistakes amongst themselves in one place. The goal: have all the kinks worked out ahead of time and start designing with clean and happy content.

The process above is intentionally simplified and is pretty standard in my experience (design plus 2 rounds of revisions). It may not be the best fit for everyone. You may need something more detailed that is specific to the type of work you do or your preferred style. But this is a good base for anyone who needs to put their process into writing.