Let's be honest. As a freelancer/small business owner/designer you have a lot of things going on. You're not only working on client projects, but juggling social media, marketing, creating content and more. So without a few crucial streamlined processes in our business, you're bound to miss things.
One of the easiest places to slip up is within your design process.
I know, how could that happen? It's YOUR process, of course you won't forget anything!
But with a lot on your mind, it's easy to skip a step, forget an element or give one-too-many revisions to that picky client.
This is where a Design Process Checklist comes in.
A design checklist maps out every single thing you need to accomplish or account for within your design process. Not only will this allow you to work faster, but it will keep your clients happy. Clients will leave your experience with a bad taste in their mouth if you're unorganized or forgetful. And for good reason! If you're charging a premium price for your services, then you need to give a premium experience. Which does not include forgetting to design something important.
So, where do you even start?
If you're a new designer who's unsure of what to offer in your design packages, or an established freelancer who just needs a little more organization, this post is for you.
MAP OUT YOUR DESIGN PROCESS
You can download my exact process above. Use that to create your own or follow along with mine if you're also a brand identity / graphic designer!
Here's an idea of what you should include.
This is everything that needs to get done before you can put pencil to paper and start designing. I like to include EVERYTHING, from sending the contract + invoice to giving the client their homework.
Here, you can gather anything else you may need from the client, such as photos, website copy or backend login information. Getting everything prepared, organized and in one spot will allow you to seamlessly transition into the design process.
BRANDING DESIGN WORK
Now, the fun part. Designing everything!
A lot can go into a brand though, so you need to map out every single little thing you do through the process. Will your moodboard include a color palette? How many logos are you going to design? Will you offer 2 revisions or 3?
Writing down everything in your process will allow you to go back through and see if you're missing anything that could be valuable for your clients. It's this attention to detail that will make a client LOVE your process and feel compelled to work with you again or refer you to friends.
This is also an important place to refer when designing collateral material for clients. If your packages include an email signature, business cards, a favicon, stationary AND a thank you card, you don't want to leave something out when you send design mock-ups to the client.
WEB DESIGN WORK
Lastly, there's the website. If you offer this service, plan it out in just as much detail as the branding design section. Will you mockup the homepage in Photoshop? Or work on the live site? Do you need to upload all of their photos + copy or will they do that? Should you offer a Skype call and walk them through the site? Getting everything down on paper here will help this last design stage run as smooth as the others.
WRAP IT UP
Finally, you're done! But you can't just throw all of the files as your client and disappear. This final stage is SO important to leaving a good impression on the client. First, make sure to collect the remaining balance from their invoice (I suggest having them pay the second 50% before you send files.) And then go out of your way to make sure the client understands exactly how to use all of their new branding materials.
How are you sending their final files (I like to use a Dropbox folder). Do you need to transfer their site over to them? Have you created a launch day packet so they can announce their new brand in an impactful way? Spend some extra time defining your final steps. You want the client to leave feeling happy and satisfied with your work.
SO. That's exactly how i plan out my entire design process. Once you get into the swing of using a checklist like this, you'll notice how much easier your work is. No more digging through emails to see how many revisions you have left. No searching through old proposals to remember if you do indeed need to design business cards. When it's all in one place you'll be more organized which inevitably leads to happier, higher paying customers!