Planning to Design
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the design process, like any process, GAS believe preparation is key.
Not this subject again, (we hear you sigh), everyone talks about planning. We just wanted to share how and why we plan, so you can understand what our priorities are, to make a project successful and improve our clients’ business.
It’s all too late, it could’ve been great.
Clients will come to us with an assumption of how long a project will take, usually leaving it way too close to when they need the project completed, to give it the required attention. This makes us sad when we can see the potential in the project, and the difference it could make to a company. Ask a builder ‘How long a house takes to build?’a simple question, complicated answer – the answer is another set of harder questions with varying parameters, do you have enough experience to guess a project timescale, without checking with a specialist?
If designers are involved at the earliest point of a project they can add value to business decisions and raise awareness of obstacles. Do you need all those materials? What aspects are required at what point? The time to get it right and create the wow factor from the beginning without design, printer or photography rush charges. If we put the right foundations in place, from the outset, the house will stand the test of time and continue to be developed.
We understand that a project still needs realistic deadlines, early planning allows us to plot those desired completion points and work back through all the smaller steps to get there. It allows clients to free up their schedule in advance, so there is not an unexpected demand of time, when their feedback or content input is needed.
With clear objectives and project scope, we work with clients to create a smooth step-by-step process with vital break out points. These reflection break out points allow for a project to be the best it can be, with contributions from all parties. We believe strong design is a team effort, that includes a vital client perspective and is not just an isolated designer buried behind a computer. Allowing time for collaboration increases the enjoyment of a project and not the frantic rush with everyone screaming where is ‘it’? What is ‘it’? How do I use ‘it’? When do I use ‘it’? Planning can define ‘it’, the project and how to make the most of the outcomes.
We prefer to be honest and are happy to walk way if a project deadline is unrealistic.
We don’t schedule creation and production time as a single block. A project never follows this pattern, it’s a two way process that needs to allow for time for a client to reflect and feedback. The client is a valuable part of our team with the full knowledge of their business and industry. Our job is to extract that precious insight to create understanding and translate it in a visual form.
By being realistic on both time and costs we can achieve great work and have a happy client relationship.
When a company is not realistic about timings (true GAS story):
We had a potential client approach us with an intriguing website project. We had a few discussions on the telephone and exchanged ideas, the potential client said ‘great we like the way you think’. They asked for costs, and also mentioned that another agency would be quoting for the work. We created the costs along with a plan of expected project timings. (This is always a reality check point, will an agency deliver what is needed, for the money to the time proposed). The client responded that our costs were similar, but they preferred our clearer approach over the other company. Great! But the crunch was they needed the site up and running quickly, the other company had proposed they could complete in 3 weeks.
Did we try to match this, no, we responded:
‘Wow, it can’t be done in 3 weeks we have worked on projects like this before and we know it takes longer’. We were realistic with our timings. We unfortunately didn’t win the project.
The punch line:
The other company took a month longer than our original timeline and the relationship between the two companies broke down. So no one won.
We start planning with the hard questions.
We do make you think (it does make the process better later, promise)
(BTW) The questions are always harder if asked with no time to create a solution.
The sorts of questions we ask are:
Have you allowed funds? We offer structure payments to help you spread the costs.
Have you considered your content, do you know what you are trying to communicate, have you written bullet points, do you have images, photographs, illustrations? If you come to us early enough we can help create, source and advise.
Do you know your target audience? This is vital in setting tone for communication, as they are the end user.
Where will you use your project? Exhibitions, services, products, a retail unit may all require different methods and materials to communicate what you do or are selling.
A plan that is set in stone – that’s a bit scary (how can we plan the whole process?)
We plan small stages, the GAS planning process allows you to be involved at the early stages. We can discuss if a project is going how it was initially envisioned by both the client and us. This gives piece of mind, not too much has been committed in terms of time and costs at each point of review.
A plan to keep planning
As we all know, things happen, business and life related and no matter how good your plan is, it might need to change.
Flexibility at every stage
We adapt to allow for change in circumstances or any other issues that might happen. As long as communication is honest and all appropriate risks are raised, as early as possible between us and the client we can find a solution that works. If we don’t know what’s underlying problems that might influence the outcome we can’t help.
GAS planning helps keep the project moving. From our previous experience of projects, once we all know the steps needed, we can combine our strengths to complete the project. We compare the process to a relay race – at the starting gun, we provide pace with combination of questions and ideas. We then pass the baton to the client for feedback and content to continue the pace. We are then poised (planned) to receive the baton again and push forward, this keeps the momentum and the project on track, (excuse all the puns, seemed like a nice way to explain the team effort).
We Love Client Involvement
We believe strong design is a team effort, that includes a vital client perspective and is not just an isolated designer buried behind a computer. Allowing time for collaboration increases the enjoyment of a project.
We plan to keep the project stress free and enjoyable
We ask challenging questions to ensure GAS and our clients are committed to achieving the best possible outcome, creating a realistic scope of the extent of the project, which allows for a cost that is less likely to escalate. We plan each stage, so that all involved have time to pause and add positive input and know the steps required to achieve successful results.
Work with us to become a design led business.