Monday, July 21, 2008

Briefing your designer

by Michelle Roberts

At the beginning of every design project, it is vital that the designer have a solid understanding of the graphic design projects requirements and to have a good perceptive of what you are looking for. The more information you can provide to the designer, the more likely the success of the design solution.

Who is the design aimed at?

This part of the design brief can have a big influence on the overall style. As a result, it is important that the business owner or the person liaising with the designer has a good understanding of who the design is aimed for. The content and overall message communicated through the design can be lost if this is mistaken. For example a young, grungy effect postcard would not necessarily have the impact required for an older conservative audience.

Here are few key factors in distinguishing your target audience and understanding your customer or clients.

Geographic location
Economic status

What are you trying to communicate?

What message are you trying to convey to your customers? This may be something as simple as thanking your customers for their loyalty or letting them know an imminent change of address. Once established it will help the designer develop a concept which is suitable to the message being conveyed and add moods and styles that will enhance and enforce your key message. You can also help your designer by offering some keywords to aid with the design, for example if you have developed a new product, some keywords may be "excitement", "innovative", "forward thinking", "development" or "growth".

Artwork specifications

There may also be some artwork specifications, which will be important to mention or discuss with your designer. These specifications determine in what form the artwork is designed and are often in relation to final printed materials and can effect the time and cost involved in a project. It is therefore important that you are quite clear at the start of the project what will be required as it may lead to extra charges and going over budget if you later change the brief. The artwork specification could be as simple as letting your designer know whether they are designing in full color or black and white.

A few specifications to consider are:

Dimensions or size of the design (i.e. A5)
Number of pages
Black and white, spot or 4-color printing
Folds (i.e. folded business cards)
Is there a set budget for the project?

In some cases, depending on the level of involvement from the designer, it may be necessary to give the designer some budget details. Often if a design agency or designer are involved in a project from concept to final print, they will require this information to determine the scope of the project. Adding any necessary constraints to the project, (such as altering timeframes or design options) to stay within a specified budget.

Often, designers will not need you to disclose a budget as a quote can be provided based on the other information detailed in your brief. A quote will then enable you to decide whether it will fit within the your set budget. Acquiring design and print quotes will also help you establish a budget for a design project, if you have not already done so.

What is the time limit or deadline?

Notify your designer if a design project needs to be complete within a specific timeframe. If the project is for a launch or conference, it will be necessary that the completion of the design and/or final print coincide with this date. It is vital that you provide the designer with all the necessary dates, so that time can be managed effectively to ensure that the final project is completed on time. If there is no set deadline, the designer will usually have their own time frame, however it will be beneficial to both you and the designer if timescales are agreed before the start of a project.

You ideas

Don't be afraid to offer your ideas. As a designer, it is, whenever possible very helpful to get a little creative direction from the client. You know more about your business and industry than the designer. As a result there may be ideas that you have, which the designer may not have considered. Also the designer may create a beautiful piece of artwork, but if it is not to your taste, you won't feel confident using the piece and will therefore inevitably be a waste of money. However, if you can provide the designer with some designs, design elements and examples of your preferred style, this is more unlikely to happen.

Here are a few examples of design cues to provide to the designer.

Artwork or other Designs
Certain elements of websites
Design restraints

It is also important to inform your designer of any existing brand, identity information or elements that need to be used. If you have a specific a color scheme, use of typeface, existing logo or other elements, you need to ensure that the designer is able to incorporate these attributes into your design. If you have a corporate identity booklet or previous designs these will aid your designer.

The success or failure of a design solution is largely dependent on the design brief. Providing this information along with ideas to your designer will help the communication and enable the design process to run smoothly with few unexpected surprises.

About the Author

Michelle Roberts, Design2Go - Affordable Graphic Design
Design2Go work in partnership with new businesses and SMEs to magnify their potential through effective design.

See our Outstanding Value for Money Design and fixed price design packages.