3 simple steps to get the most out of working with a design agency

October 31, 2018 | Written by

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The relationship between a design agency and client always works best when it is collaborative. If you want to get the best possible results, two-way communication is essential at every stage. So what does an effective collaboration between a design agency and client look like?

Most creative projects can be loosely broken down into three stages:

1. Briefing stage

2. Creative stage

3. Delivery stage

Let’s take a look at each stage in turn, and outline some practical steps you can take to ensure you get the best out of your design agency.

Briefing stage

Most successful creative projects begin with a focused brief. While you don’t need to worry about writing down anything too formal, there are a few things you can do to make the process of communicating your requirements smoother.

Before you start talking to your design agency, it’s a good idea to draw up a list of things that you want to achieve with the project. Organise these into a list, starting with the most important.

If you have any ideas of how you want things to look, now is a good time to discuss them. It can be a good idea to collect some visual examples of designs that you like and don’t like. This can save time and give your design agency a clearer idea of what you’re looking for.

The briefing stage is also a good time to establish who the main point of contact between your design agency and your business will be. If there are several people involved in the project, restrict points of contact to one or two people. This ensures that your design agency targets any relevant communication to the right person, increasing efficiency on both sides.

Creative Stage

The creative stage should be an exciting time for you as a client. It’s when your design agency will present you with various ideas for the look and feel of your project. Expect some inevitable to-ing and fro-ing as different concepts are presented to you.

If things don’t click into place immediately, or if the first few concepts you see don’t float your boat, don’t panic. The back and forth during this stage is an essential part of the creative process, and will ensure that you end up with designs that you’re happy with.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like something. Good designers are used to being challenged, and have thick skins when it comes to having their work questioned. That said, it’s important to keep criticism constructive whenever possible. Keep in mind the original brief you set, and the importance of moving the project forward.

When faced with a choice of several different creative directions, try to be selective about whose opinions and advice you seek. It’s fine to get a second opinion, but showing all and sundry can be a bad idea as you will inevitably receive a myriad of varying opinions back. Design by committee rarely, if ever, gets good results.

Try to resist the temptation to micro-manage the design process by requesting very small layout changes (“Can you make x element bigger and move y element to the left?”). If you’ve taken the choice to hire a design agency, trust them to make the right decisions when it comes to the finer details.

Delivery stage

The final stage of the project will involve taking the ideas you’ve been presented from concept to delivery, creating design assets that are ready for real-world use. This may involve creating print-ready artwork files, liaising with printers, or building and launching websites and apps.

Good planning and organisation will be key to the success of your project. Speak to everyone involved in plenty of time, taking into account any decisions that need to be made before deadlines start looming. For example, a packaging job might involve discussing print substrates and their limitations with your design agency and printers several weeks before the final project deadline.

Every project is different, but by following the advice above, you can help to ensure that you get the most from your investment when working with a design agency.

If you have any questions about working with a design agency, drop the Tidy team a line for some project-specific tips. We’re always happy to have a chat and provide practical advice on design for your business.

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