How to Plan a Design Project

Photo by UFV Graphic and Digital Design

At eCoreXperience we've found that the easiest way to ensure great results and communication is to have a clear plan of action that both the client and our team can get excited about. If you are pulling together an RFP or need to reach out to your internal design department, keep these essentials in mind and you will reap the rewards of great planning.

What are the key objectives?
It is crucial to identify the main objective of your project. Without a clear goal in mind, KPIs are impossible to define. Is your team building brand awareness or focusing on event registration? Are you kicking off a social media campaign or generating foot traffic? Narrowing down your focus ahead of interacting with the design team will give you a head start to success.

Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach?
At this point in your planning, you should know the segment in the market you'd like to reach. If you are targeting 30-something moms, the look and feel of your design should reflect that demographic. This is an important step that can make or break your design's effectiveness. Knowing whom to target gives the design team a very clear mandate. Without knowing the audience, it is nearly impossible to design effectively. Remember, designers are problem solvers - the more clearly you can explain the task, the more effective the team can be at generating viable solutions.

What do we want the audience to think, feel, or do?
This is closely tied to the last step. For example, if we now know that we're targeting CEOs of small businesses, it is important to understand what the call to action is for that group. Are you providing a white paper on a landing page for them to download? Or are you driving them to a networking event? Those two goals have very different performance indicators, so it is important to know WHO and WHAT actions you are targeting.

What's the single most important thing to say?
If your project were an elevator pitch, what would you emphasize? If you can clearly communicate your main goal in 15-30 seconds, then chances are you have a very good grasp of what needs to be accomplished by the design team. Try to refine your objective to simple, measurable bullet points to make it clear and direct.

What do we need from the creative team? When do we need it?
A list of deliverables and a timeline for their sign-off are crucial to both sides of the design equation. If you have a presentation due next Thursday, be sure to give the design team a milestone to complete earlier in the week to avoid any last minute melt-downs. When in doubt, over-communicate. If your project is suffering from scope creep, make sure to touch base with the project manager and see if any trade offs can be made for mission-critical deliverables. The more proactive you can be, the better.

Who will have final approval on this content from the client side?
This one seems straightforward, but it is surprising how often "design by committee" can delay and cripple projects. Be sure to know how much authority you have to sign off on drafts and deliverables, when you'll be checking in with key stakeholders, and who ultimately has the final yea or nay. The biggest mistake you could make would be to work on something in the dark for months only to be told to scrap all work by senior management as the deadline looms!

We hope this helps walk you through the stages of design planning. If you have any further questions feel free to contact us.