Design process represented by an abstract image of circles in pink and purple intersecting on an orange background

The Design Process Should be Client Led

The design process is so much more than just making some pretty art.

Graphic design is applied art. It’s meant to do something, move people, and frankly, make money. One of the things I love best about graphic design is that it combines art and psychology into something synergistic and awesome! The key difference between art and design is the process. This process is built on two main components.

The First Part of the Graphic Design Process is Skills and Tools

You have the tools and knowledge to make the logo. I think of that as the plumber part. What I mean by that is: if something goes wrong with your plumbing or you want a new sink installed, you call the plumber. That’s because they’re a craftsperson who has that big huge pipe wrench and knows how to solder copper pipe.

As a graphic designer I’m well versed in the ways that images move humans, I have the technical expertise to make that vision a reality, and I have the software and computer horsepower to render those graphics in the forms my clients will need. I am a plumber of pictures.

Sure, you can learn how to do plumbing or graphic design. The question is, do you have the time and money to buy the tools and learn how? It’s okay if you don’t. I can help.

The Most Important Part of the Design Process is Communication

The second part of my job is to be a communicator. That’s the part that needs to be client-led. Unlike a plumber, I am creating something that is meant to work for people, not houses. A house structure is stable, and you can learn about it by just looking at it. Even though I’m making something, I can’t learn about it by just looking. I have to discover what it is I’m supposed to make.

Some clients know exactly who their target audience is, what look they need, the fonts and colors they want, and have a great idea of where they’re going. They’re just hiring me for my tools and that’s great. If they don’t want to pay for Adobe I get it. Most clients need more help than that.

The Discovery Process

I work through a discovery process with my clients, where we talk about their target market demographics, brand archtype, goals, and needs. I focus on discovering their communication and learning styles. People who are visual learners will express themselves differently than those who are kinesthetic learners. I might ask them to send me pictures that inspire them or tell me about what their business means to them. I’ve even had people dance their business to me over Zoom.

After I’ve gathered as much as I can from them, depending on their needs and the design package they purchase I may do industry research, demographic research, or trademark research to make sure we know why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Good Design is Process Based

Then I take all that information and holistically create visual imagery that represents it in a way that many people will be able to understand. It has to be simple, clear, and work with commonly understood symbolism. Simplicity is one of the most difficult parts of design. We are all tempted to cram in as much information as possible in order to communicate. Graphic design is about peeling away everything that is extra or not absolutely needed and leaving a core message that will resonate deeply with the people who need to see it most, the target demographic for a business.

While I make a design, whether it’s a logo, social media templates, flyers, websites, e-books, or swag, I check back in with the client to make sure I’m going in a direction that makes sense to them. Partially it’s to get their feedback and make sure I’m staying true to their vision. The other part of that communication is to make sure they understand the choices I’m making and the work I’m doing.

To use the plumber metaphor one more time. I want to make sure that my clients know why I ran the pipes they way I did so that they know where the shut-off valves are, and how to add on more if they need.

If you need some help getting your business message out there, reach out and lets talk.

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